MLB Power Rankings: Week 9

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MLB Power Rankings: Week 9

Every Monday throughout the regular season, we'll be ranking all 30 MLB teams.

Take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comments or to us on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Previous rankings: Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8

Tony
JJ Comments 1
Tony: Can't deny them the top spot still.
JJ: Continue to re-load by adding Oswalt.
2
Tony: Kemp's injury will "hamstring" this team as some point.
JJ: Harper deserves love, but so does Gio Gonzalez.
3
Tony: Bryce Harper is the man, you guys.
JJ: Until they cool off, they deserve to be this high.
4
Tony: Longoria's coming back, but will Zobrist turn things around?
JJ: Slipping, and don't look now, but the Giants are right there.
5
Tony: Man are they hot. This is a legit playoff team.
JJ: This year, they have the pitching to win the division. 6
Tony: 20 years ago, they drafted Derek Jeter. He's still got it.
JJ: They'll move up when Longoria gets back.
7
Tony: Still may favorite to win the NL Central.
JJ: Hoo boy, do they need a starter. Matt Garza, anyone?
8
Tony: Are they starting to come back to earth?
JJ: Quietly, pitching has been outstanding.
9
Tony: Giancarlo, Big Z leading the charge.
JJ: Speaking of outstanding pitching...
10
Tony: Great week includes Johan no-no, Dickey CG SHO.
JJ: If Lincecum gets going, they could really challenge LA.
11
Tony: They're really starting to show their true colors.
JJ: Like his team, Pujols not all the way back, but getting there.
12
Tony: Don't look now, but they're withing spitting distance of first.
JJ: They're finally looking like the Orioles. Can they rebound?
13
Tony: Lost three straight series to AL Central opponents.
JJ: They're better than this, and will eventually show it.
14

White Sox change their minds, Chris Sale to start Sunday

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White Sox change their minds, Chris Sale to start Sunday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Robin Ventura changed his mind and Chris Sale will now face the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.

The White Sox manager announced his decision Friday afternoon, a little less than 24 hours after the club said it would keep its rotation in order following Thursday’s rainout. Rather than face Kansas City, the choice meant that Sale would have been pushed back and faced the New York Mets on Monday instead.

But as Ventura and his coaching staff discussed their options (he had five pages full of potential rotation options on Thursday), ultimately it made the most sense for Sale to face a divisional opponent. Sale is set to face Edinson Volquez in the series finale at 1:15 p.m.

“This is the better play,” Ventura said. “(Sale) didn’t throw very much the other day. We have a division team. A lot of things going into it. Just keep him on schedule and keep him pitching. It’s that simple.

“You play these guys a lot. They’re in your division. You have a chance for (Sale) to still go out there. You look at it with what he did the other day. It made a little more sense to have him go Sunday.”

Sale lost for the first time in 10 starts all season on Tuesday. He threw only 89 pitches against the Cleveland Indians, which has the White Sox comfortable with keeping him on schedule and working on a normal four days of rest instead of needing another.

“He was out of the game quicker than usual last time so we can do it,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “We feel good about Sale against anybody. Division team, that might have had something to do with it.”

The White Sox said Jose Quintana would start Monday against the Mets with Mat Latos on Tuesday and Friday’s starter, Miguel Gonzalez, throwing on Wednesday.

No matter what happens in Friday’s game, Ventura said he likely plans to stick with Carlos Rodon against the Royals on Saturday and Sale on Sunday.

White Sox need to simplify to rediscover winning ways

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White Sox need to simplify to rediscover winning ways

They’ve done it before this season, and White Sox players are confident they can find it once again.

Once off to a 23-10 start, the White Sox have been brought back to Earth by a stretch during which they’ve lost 11 of 15. Still, they don’t feel like they’re far off the mark, and eight losses since May 10 by two or fewer runs would suggest they aren’t. But the White Sox know they have to get back to what worked before, and that hasn’t occurred in a stretch where they’ve lost five consecutive series.

“It just hasn’t been as tight as it was when we were winning, making the plays, coming up with clutch hits, throwing the ball where you want to throw it and getting the result,” veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “The results have been opposite of what we were like."

The pitching hasn’t been as good in this stretch as it was early. The team has a 4.53 ERA in its past 15 games.

But the offense has been much worse.

A group that averaged 5.6 runs per contest from April 25 to May 9 has averaged 3.8 in its last 15 and only 2.8 over the last dozen. Included in that stretch are nine contests with three or fewer runs, of which the White Sox have won two. In their last 12 games, the White Sox have a .289 team on-base percentage.

“We need to get guys on with less than two outs more, and we need to come through,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “Right now we’re putting a little too much pressure on that instead of just playing our game, maybe a little too much. You’ve got to come back a little bit and understand, take our singles and make the pitcher work. Or, you get on him early, if you get a pitch to hit, we’ve got to do something with it.”

Both Frazier and Rollins said the White Sox merely need to simplify and get back to the basics. Rollins said they need to hit the ball, catch it, execute pitches and score more runs than the other team.

But he knows it isn’t that easy. While it should be, it isn’t.

It’s just that when a team is in a good stretch, there isn’t much to dwell on.

The White Sox have previously shown they’re capable of that state. Now it’s up to them to get back to it.

“When we were doing those things, everything’s going well,” Rollins said. “It’s always like when everything’s going well, everything seems easy. And when they’re not going well, you realize how difficult this game really is.

“We have to find a way to put an end to that. Great series to start that with."

“This game will always give you reminders — ‘Hey, you guys are good, but we’re going to slow you down a little bit.’ You keep at it, it’ll reward.”

Jimmy Rollins remains confident despite slow start for White Sox

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Jimmy Rollins remains confident despite slow start for White Sox

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jimmy Rollins isn’t happy with his offensive production so far this season. But a slow start hasn’t made the veteran White Sox shortstop any less confident.

Through 142 plate appearances this season, Rollins is hitting .231/.289/.346 with 10 extra-base hits and eight RBIs. But Rollins -- who has played in 33 games -- said prior to Thursday’s rainout he feels fresh. He also doesn’t see a huge difference between how he has been pitched in his first tour of the American League after 15-plus seasons in the National League.  

“I don’t think I’ve done enough,” Rollins said. “I could be hitting .400 and I’d still be wanting to hit .500. But I’m only .200 and some change. I haven’t done enough to help the team and I’ve had plenty of opportunities. The good thing is, that will change also as the season goes along and I start catching that rhythm again.”

Rollins has a career .825 OPS in 2,232 plate appearances with runners in scoring position.

This season he’s hitting at a .417 clip in 30 plate appearances with seven RBIs. Rollins also struggled with RISP in 2015, hitting .464. But he spent part of that season dealing with injuries.

Nearly 30 percent through the campaign, Rollins feels healthy.

He has appeared in 33 games as White Sox manager Robin Ventura has given him routine days off to stay sharp. Rollins likes how Ventura has employed those days off, sometimes two at a time to allow Tyler Saladino to develop a rhythm and get at-bats. So far, Rollins said his playing time is what he expected when he opted to sign with the White Sox instead of the San Francisco Giants and others.

As far as switching leagues, Rollins doesn’t know a lot of the pitchers he’s facing but he does know the hitters, which has helped him line up in good position. He thinks the defensive side is a more important component.

“I don’t think it really makes a tremendous difference (hitting),” Rollins said. “If you’re putting good swings on the ball, no matter what league you’re in, you’re going to get hits.”

He expects those hits will come shortly.

Before Thursday’s game was wiped out, Ventura dropped Rollins from second to sixth in the lineup for the second time in a week. Melky Cabrera was scheduled to start in the No. 2 hole and Jose Abreu hit there several times on the team’s last homestand.

“I’ll be able to contribute more and that’ll make the job easier on everybody,” Rollins said. “It goes down the line. One guy is doing good, hitting becomes contagious. The next guy wants to hit, the next guy wants to hit and that turns into nobody wants to make an out and then you grind out those at-bats and you find a way to execute. You might catch the ball, but I’m not making an out. And that’s the difference. Sometimes when you’re trying to get hits, it’s like pitching --- you’re trying to make the pitch. You’ll do whatever it takes, even if that means going outside your box, and when you do that you’re not going to be successful.”