Chicago White Sox

Series preview: White Sox vs. Angels

Series preview: White Sox vs. Angels

Friday, April 15, 2011Posted: 2 PM

White Sox (7-5) vs. Angels (7-5)

Series schedule

Friday, 7:10 p.m. on CSN
Saturday, 3:10 p.m. on FOX
Sunday, 1:10 p.m. on CSN
Starting pitchers

Friday: Philip Humber (1-0, 3.37) vs. Jered Weaver (3-0, 0.87)
Saturday: Gavin Floyd (1-0, 2.40) vs. Tyler Chatwood (0-1, 7.20)
Sunday: Mark Buehrle (1-0, 4.26) vs. Dan Haren (3-0, 0.73)

Previous games

The White Sox lost the rubber game of their series with the A's on Wednesday. Chicago's bullpen allowed three runs in the ninth and three more in the 10th in the 7-4 defeat. John Danks' eight-inning, one-run effort was wasted, as were Juan Pierre's three hits.

The Angels took two of three vs. Cleveland this week, including a 4-3 victory on Wednesday in the series finale. Torii Hunter drove in a pair of runs for Anaheim, while Jeff Mathis had the winning sacrifice fly in the 12th.

Head-to-head

The White Sox went 7-2 against the Angels last season, winning the final seven games of the season series. This is the teams' first meeting in 2011.

Who's hot?
Pierre has had three separate three-hit games in the last week. Alex Rios has scored at least one run in seven of the last eight games. Paul Konerko has hit safely in 11 of 12 games this season.

Storylines
Ozzie Guillen has made his displeasure with the White Sox's bullpen very clear. The team desperately needs a reliever to step up - more than one guy, actually. The White Sox have led in all 12 games this season but have won just seven of those games. Coming off a strong outing vs. Tampa Bay, Humber will try to cement his place in the rotation with another good performance.

Sound off
On a scale of 1-10, how panicked are you about the White Sox bullpen?

Nicky Delmonico is the White Sox hero we don't deserve

delmonico.jpg
USA TODAY

Nicky Delmonico is the White Sox hero we don't deserve

The legend of Nicky Delmonico grows every night. 

On Friday, the White Sox rookie produced his second career multi-homer game in extraordinary fashion.

The first of his two bombs was just a good, old-school mash to right field: 

The second, however, conflated muscle and hustle: 

What can't this guy do? 

The pair of homers boosted his total to five in just 15 games. May want to save voters the time and just induct him into baseball's Hall of Fame now. 

How Michael Kopech's rigorous offseason strength and conditioning program played a role in Friday's promotion

kopech.jpg
USA TODAY

How Michael Kopech's rigorous offseason strength and conditioning program played a role in Friday's promotion

He’s never pitched more innings and yet Michael Kopech feels great from a physical standpoint. The White Sox prospect -- who was promoted to Triple-A Charlotte in a surprising move on Friday -- is also throwing as well as he has at any point in his young career.

Kopech and those around him attribute how he feels on the mound in spite of a large innings total to a rigorous offseason strength and conditioning program. Kopech, who spends up to an hour a day in the gym in between starts during the season, works out 15-18 hours a week during the offseason in order to be prepared to withstand the rigors of a full season. With an 0.66 ERA over his last 41 innings, Kopech feels that work has been validated.

“There’s a lot of natural fatigue throughout the season,” Kopech said. “I feel like I do a pretty good job in the offseason of preparing myself for a full-innings load and that’s what I’ve done every offseason.

“Unfortunately, until this year I haven’t had that opportunity. Now that I’ve finally got the opportunity, I’m starting to see the work that I did, it’s paid off. I do feel like that has had a lot to do with (the success).”

Kopech has done many things to impress his now former Birmingham Barons manager Julio Vinas. But one event that recently stood out was when Kopech hit 99 mph on the radar gun with his 95th pitch of the game without any extra effort. The right-hander naturally produced the same velocity fastball he had earlier in the game.

Vinas has little doubt about the origin of the pitch.

“He’s a workhorse,” Vinas said. “I get here early. He’s here and always doing something to better himself, whether you see him in the outfield getting some extra running in, you see him in the weight room, he gets after it. It just shows how hard he works. To maintain that 99-mph fastball when 95 pitches into a game, you’ve got to be in great shape. He is because you never see him laboring.”

But Kopech was struggling in June when he posted a 6.95 ERA in five starts and walked 18 batters in 22 innings. The stretch had the White Sox wondering if MLB Pipeline’s No. 12-ranked prospect had hit a wall. The pitcher had completed 75 innings by the end of June, which was 3 2/3 shy of what he totaled in all of 2016, including 22 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

[MORE: Pair of White Sox top pitching prospects promoted] 

The White Sox made no certain plans, but determined they’d be vigilant in seeing how Kopech handled the workload. The team gave him a nine-day break in between starts around the All-Star Futures Game and made a mechanical adjustment with Kopech, too.

Just like that, Kopech has soared, which led to his promotion on Friday.

“Since then he’s on the best run he’s been on,” player development director Chris Getz said. “He’s in a really good place. But we’re constantly having conversations on his work, physically where he’s at, his weight and then obviously the on-field performance. Are there any indications of fatigue or anything like that? We’re near the stretch run and then the finish line and well aware of the innings and what he has done in the past.

“If he were to hit a wall and we feel like physically he needed to be shut down we certainly were open to it. We weren’t going to force any issues, but he’s shown no signs. He’s a physically gifted guy who works very hard, has a goal in mind to finish a full season. He’s on track to that do that.”

Kopech thinks it’s due to the offseason work he has always put In but never had a chance to test out. This is the first time he’s had the chance to pitch a full season as 2015 ended with his 50-game suspension and the first half of 2016 was wiped out by injury.

Kopech said he works out two to three hours a day for five or six days in the offseason. He’s also “getting after it” in the gym for an hour on three of the four days in between his starts.

On road trips, Kopech also eats pre-packaged meals prepared by a nutritionist rather than normal clubhouse fare to eat healthy.

Kopech was expected to start on Friday at Birmingham before he was promoted. Now the plan calls for him to start on Monday at Charlotte. If he stays on a regular schedule, Kopech would be in line for three starts at Charlotte, a plan for which he feels physically prepared.

“I haven’t really felt very fatigued,” Kopech said. “I’ve felt comfortable. I feel like I’m within myself. I don’t feel like I’m overthrowing when I need to rear back. I don’t feel like I’m losing any velo. I’ve felt pretty comfortable in probably close to double the amount of innings I threw last year.”