Facing sweep, Sox seeking consistency

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Facing sweep, Sox seeking consistency

A month ago, the White Sox finished off a sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Their 6-0 victory over their reeling crosstown rival was their fourth win in a row and part of a stretch in which the Sox won 14 of 16 games.

But those two weeks of good feelings have since come to a halt, as the White Sox have dropped five consecutive series to Toronto, Houston, St. Louis, Los Angeles and now the Cubs. And on Wednesday, they send a struggling Gavin Floyd to the mound looking to avoid being swept for the first time this season.

"I think I said it when we were in the midst of our nine-game winning streak, teams are going to win five, six, seven in a row and lose five, six, seven in a row," Adam Dunn explained. "And that's just kinda part of it. Hopefully we can go out today and kinda salvage something and get ready for this weekend."

The Sox won nine straight games in late May and early June in large part thanks to their offense, which tallied 72 runs during that winning streak. In recent games, the Sox have struggled to support stingy outings from Jake Peavy and Jose Quintana.

"When we were putting up 10 runs a game, that's just not going to happen all the time," Gordon Beckham said. "We've just hit a little lull where we just aren't getting the big hit or the runs we need in. We just gotta pick it up. It'll change, it'll definitely change, we just need to make it sooner rather than later."

There's still plenty of time left for the White Sox. Wednesday's game is No. 69 on the season, meaning there are 93 more left. There will be ups and downs, and consistency is often difficult to achieve.

"I don't think there's a lot of teams out there that can say they've played consistently month in and month out," Dunn said. "If we have more wins than losses, we'll be pretty good."

Heading into Wednesday's game, the White Sox have two more wins than they have losses. They haven't been swept all season, as Beckham pointed out. But if Floyd can't find a way to get better results, that may change tonight. Manager Robin Ventura hinted before the game that most of Floyd's issues are in his own head.

"Frustrating is just one of those words that's thrown around but he's the one that has to go through it," Ventura said of Floyd. "As a team, I think that's part of him pitching is the pressures of not letting people down and things like that. Those are probably bigger than just the frustrations, is he's trying to do a lot and he just needs to be himself."

As Floyd's ERA has ballooned to 5.63, it's been easy for some to forget how good he was to begin the season. In Floyd's first seven starts, he struck out 42, walked 13 and allowed four home runs with a 2.53 ERA. In his last six outings, Floyd has struck out 30, walked 10 and allowed 11 home runs with a 10.38 ERA. The Sox are 1-5 in those starts.

Dunn says, though, that Floyd's recent issues don't put any added pressure on the offense and him.

"As position players and hitters, we don't worry about out pitching because there's nothing we can do -- if we score 10 runs, we're probably going to win," Dunn said. "Our goal is to score 10 runs a game. That's probably not going to happen on a consistent basis, but I can promise you if we score 10 we'll win."

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts with five players on Friday, including a $12-million deal for Todd Frazier.

Frazier established a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman in 2016 when he blasted 40 in his first season with the White Sox. A free agent after the 2017 season, Frazier hit .225/.302/.464 in 666 plate appearances, drove in a career high 98 runs and produced 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. 

Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is set to earn $5.9 million this season. The team also agreed to deals with relievers Dan Jennings ($1.4 million), Zach Putnam ($1.1175 million) and Jake Petricka ($825,000).

The White Sox acquired Frazier in a three-player trade from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2015. It's expected they would try to trade Frazier, who has hit 104 homers since 2014 and participated in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby three consecutive years, before the Aug 1 non-waiver trade deadline as part of the club's rebuilding efforts. 

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Gonzalez went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) after he was signed to a minor-league deal in early April. 

Jennings posted a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. 

Putnam had a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts before he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. 

Petricka was limited to nine appearances before his season was ended by hip surgery.

Both Petricka and Putnam are expected to be ready for spring training.

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

It was a limited look, but Yoan Moncada made a strong first impression on the White Sox this week.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox last month in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada arrived in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this week with the franchise hopeful he'd offer a glimpse of the skills that earned him the designation as baseball's top prospect.

Moncada didn't disappoint, either, as he had White Sox evaluators excited throughout a three-day hitters camp. Whether it's his physicality, how he carried himself or his baseball IQ, White Sox staffers couldn't have been happier about their first experience with their new prized possession.

"(Moncada) looks like a linebacker, but he moves like a wide receiver," player development director Chris Getz said. "He's got good actions. He's obviously a switch hitter. He's got power. He can hit. He's got a good smile. He seems to be enjoying himself out here, he interacts well with his teammates.

"So far it has been very impressive, and we look forward to seeing more."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Moncada, 21, looked every bit the part when he first observed him from across the hall at the team's facility. Steverson spoke to friends in the scouting community and wasn't the least bit surprised when he encountered the 6-foot-2, 205-pound second baseman. Moncada was just as impressive on the field with his skills and effort, Steverson said.

"This is a large specimen right here," Steverson said. "He's put together pretty well.

"On defense it looks like he has some really good hands.

"He got in the box and he hadn't swung for a while. But still, you could tell he had good hands going through the zone, has a nice approach and wants to work real hard."

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Moncada's fancy tools have been well publicized since he received a $31.5-million signing bonus from the Red Sox in March 2015.

MLB.com graded Moncada's hit tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale while his base running is 65 and arm is 60. Moncada's power received a 55 grade, and his fielding is 50. Moncada received an overall grade of 65, which suggests he has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and worth 4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

But the White Sox weren't just impressed with Moncada's physical ability.

One of manager Rick Renteria's top objectives for the camp was to emphasize fundamentals and what's important to the team. Renteria wanted to identify specific game situations and how players are expected to handle them so they're well prepared for the future. Moncada handled that area well, too.

"Yoan is a very knowledgeable baseball player who has experience on a multitude of levels," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "In the brief time we had with him this week, he showed a tremendous ability to drive the ball the opposite way as well as drive balls to the gap and out of the ball park from both sides of the plate. That ability will help him handle and any all situations that Ricky asks him to do at the plate. Defensively his hands and feet are very good and will have no problem there. He's a bright hard-working kid that is part of a bright future for the organization."