Chicago White Sox

White Sox reliever Anthony Swarzak looks to start new scoreless streak

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AP

White Sox reliever Anthony Swarzak looks to start new scoreless streak

SEATTLE — Anthony Swarzak likes the role he has worked himself into in the White Sox bullpen.

He’s not at all concerned with his workload.

And the veteran reliever said Thursday afternoon that he’s ready to rebound after surrendering his first runs of the season a night earlier. Swarzak isn’t worried about that either, seeing as the home run was yielded to one Michael Nelson Trout. Swarzak enters Thursday’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners with a 1.37 ERA and 22 strikeouts and only two walks. Prior to Wednesday’s loss, Swarzak had made 15 straight scoreless appearances.

“It was just one game,” Swarzak said. “It was three hitters and it all kind of snowballed on you and that’s kind of what I’ve been avoiding this whole year. I didn’t dodge it (Wednesday) and had the wrong guy up at the wrong time and he’s on fire right now. I was up for the challenge, that’s for sure. I was ready to get in there and face him because I wanted that and he got me. So maybe be careful what you wish for.”

Manager Rick Renteria has said over the past few days he’s aware of the heavy workload heaped upon Swarzak so far. With Nate Jones and Zach Putnam down, Swarzak and Tommy Kahnle have picked up a large amount of high leverage work because the White Sox have been competitive despite a losing mark.

Swarzak’s 19 2/3 innings leads all White Sox relievers.

“It’s a long season,” Renteria said. “You have to make sure you allow the other guys who have done well also to slot into situations he might take to give him a break. It’s the wise thing to do. “There’s a lot of season left.”

Even so, Swarzak is only on pace for 84 innings, a total he has already surpassed each season from 2011-14. Beyond that, Swarzak has only pitched one-plus innings three times since he unofficially moved up the bullpen food chain on April 29. So while his manager may keep an eye on him, Swarzak likes how often his number has been called. This is a role he has always desired and he’d like to keep going.

“I’ve thrown close to 100 innings out of the bullpen multiple years in my career,” Swarzak said. “I’m ready for this. I feel great.”

“I’ve put myself in a position to help the team when it matters and that’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole career, pitch out of the bullpen in bigger situations. Unfortunately, we lost some key players in the bullpen early on in the year and that’s where my opportunity came about and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”

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Swarzak may be one of the White Sox players most tuned into the Seattle Mariners’ Thursday remembrance of Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell, who was found dead in his Detroit hotel room earlier in the morning of an apparent suicide.

The right-hander’s walkup music at home games is Audioslave’s ‘Cochise,’ a band for whom Cornell also performed lead vocals. Swarzak, 34, grew up during the era of grunge rock and has some personal connections to the scene.

The Mariners plan to remember Cornell, 52, with a moment of silence before the game. They also plan to play a heavy rotation of Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog songs throughout the contest.

“I love the whole grunge style of music and the whole Seattle scene here,” Swarzak said. “Their music is just timeless, it seems to go on for decades now and I don’t ever see that stopping. You’ve got Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, the whole thing. Definitely took a hit with Cornell and it’s pretty sad. It’s a pretty sad day for the music industry and for Seattle and hopefully we can just remember the good voice he had because it was something special.”

White Sox Road Ahead: Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer set for first White Sox starts

White Sox Road Ahead: Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer set for first White Sox starts

On this week's Honda Road Ahead, sponsored by Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Honda dealers, Bill Melton and Chuck Garfien talk about the upcoming starts for young pitchers Carson Fulmer and Lucas Giolito.

With the White Sox rebuild sucking up all the attention from fans of the team this year, Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer have been names in any conversation about the future of the team.

Fulmer, the first-round pick of the White Sox in 2015, made his big league debut with the White Sox last year, but it was as a reliever. This time Fulmer will get the start in the second game of Monday's doubleheader against the Twins.

In eight relief appearances with the White Sox last season, he walked seven in 11 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and an 8.49 ERA. This season Fulmer has returned to starting with Triple-A Charlotte and has a 5.61 ERA with 95 strikeouts and 63 walks in 122 innings.

"I'd like to see Carson Fulmer throw more strikes," Melton said. "Maybe that's all I want to see because I remember when he was here last year he had a tough time coming out of the pen because he was a starter and he wasn't throwing a lot of strikes. So I think the key for me to watch him is, just forget about guys getting hits or hitting balls out of the park, I want to see if he's getting it over the plate, how many times he's ahead of the hitters."

Giolito will make his White Sox debut on Tuesday. Like Fulmer, the 23-year-old has some major league experience. Giolito pitched 21 1/3 innings in four starts and two relief appearances last year with the Nationals. He posted a 6.75 ERA with 11 strikeouts and 12 walks.

The White Sox acquired Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade in the offseason and he hasn't had the smoothest of seasons as a teammate of Fulmer's in Charlotte. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has a 4.48 ERA with 134 strikeouts and 59 walks in 128 2/3 innings for the Knights.

Those numbers aren't going to excite fans, but he has been pitching better lately. In his last five starts, Giolito has a 1.71 ERA (six earned runs in 31 2/3 innings) with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks.

"This is a tall guy, he's a velocity guy, he's a strikeout guy so I'm going to be watching that," Melton said. "And again, nerves. There's nothing wrong with that. First time in front of a Chicago fan base and stuff like that. But a guy that big, I'm more interested in seeing how his breaking ball is. If he starts bouncing it in the dirt, a little nervous. He's got such a good one. I want to see him get ahead of the hitters and see how he puts them away."

Watch the video above to see Garfien and Melton talk about the two White Sox pitching prospects.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jeff Passan explains why White Sox have the best farm system in baseball

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jeff Passan explains why White Sox have the best farm system in baseball

After speaking with 24 people in baseball (GMs, farm directors and scouts), Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports made a conclusion: the White Sox have the best farm system in baseball. On the podcast, Chuck Garfien speaks with Passan about his specific findings and how the next few years might play out for the franchise.

How many of the White Sox prospects have to be a success for the rebuild to work? Will Michael Kopech or Alec Hansen have the better major league career? Will the Cubs one day regret trading Eloy Jimenez? Will the White Sox be willing to spend big money to land a player like Manny Machado? Who will be the White Sox closer in 2019? Who might the White Sox draft in 2018?

The answers to these questions and many others on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: