The White Sox, who bring a wave and a pounding into the playoff race in the second half, seem … unlikely.
This season has always been about rebuilding and development at all levels of the organization record at dawn of the second half can certainly be considered disappointing, it should not be counted as completely surprising.
But with the unique opportunity to see the franchise's future evolve right before their eyes, South Side baseball fans still have reasons to pay attention to what has happened in the team's last 67 games. Here are five of these reasons.
1. Will the real Yoan Moncada please get up?
The all-time star of this rebuild has done a lot of things in its first full season of baseball in the big league. He started catching a cold, got hot, hit the disabled list, got very cold and finished the first half of a two-week tear, losing in the last 1
So, which Moncada is the Moncada the White Sox will get in the second half?
This guy has great expectations after being named # 1 in baseball last season, and he will not be the last White Sox candidate to rise to the majors and then disassemble each of his actions on the field leaves. Fair or unfair, that's life for Moncada until it can consistently produce. But he could do just that.
What he has to clean up is the plethora of strikeouts – his 130 are just two of the big league leaders – and his mistakes on the field where he ranks third baseball with 15 field errors, most among the second basemen. Are these developmental growing pains or will Moncada be the kind of player who hits really well, beats a lot and makes many mistakes? It's worth watching the rest of the season to answer that question.
2. When Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez turn up, you'll want to be there
Perhaps the biggest question that came in the 2018 season was when the White Sox had their two best-rated prospects for the season Would promote Major League Roster. The answer to this question is much more complicated than spring training, but there is still a good chance of seeing these two guys on the south side before the time is up for the regular season.
Kopech had a tough season with Triple-A Charlotte, nothing that reflects the ease with which he dominated the double-A level in 2017, when he released 155 battles in 22 starts. The strikeouts are still there this year – he has 131 of them in 19 starts – but he runs a lot of guys and has made some bad trips when it comes to running. All in all, at the moment in Charlotte's season, it left him 58 walks and a 4.29 ERA.
From the point of view of the results, the situation has improved lately. He has an ERA of 2.53 in his last six starts, an ERA of 2.33 in his last five, and recovered from a four-walk, four runs, three two-gem innings and only two earned runs In both last starts he has hit 20 batsmen.
Of course, Rick Hahn has been suggesting all along that the results do not necessarily fit into the big league readiness, and that the White Sox is waiting for Kopech to show them certain things deserve his ticket to the majors. Has that happened already? One would think that if it had happened, Kopech would be here now. However, a full season in Triple-A, which deals with problems and faces a different kind of striker than he saw in Double-A last season, would at least result in a September promotion for one of the game's best pitching prospects ,  Jimenez seems to be coming through Triple A for a good clip, but injuries have limited his at-bats this season, and he has only 269 of them in the season between Double-A and Triple-A. He played in just 17 games in Charlotte, recently returned from a stay on the disabled list.
But he has undoubtedly swung an impressive bat on both levels. He was promoted after stealing .317 / .368 / .556 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 70 games in Birmingham. He has a .297 / .357 / .484 line in Charlotte with three homers and seven RBIs in those 17 games.
Again, boxing scores are not the only thing the White Sox are looking for, and Hahn talked about the importance of attacking Jiménez on the Triple A level. But if he continues to rake, Jiménez would have a big league before the end of the season.
3. Deadline (and Beyond) Deals
Hahn has already said he expects a quieter trade deadline for the White Sox this summer following what happened a season ago when he was one It's not hard to understand why he thinks that, considering the team – a year later in its reconstruction efforts – does not have as many tradable or desirable assets on the board Major League Roster has.
That's not to say that there's nothing to sell, be it before the end of this month or a waiver before the end of next month, it's worth seeing what the White Sox can get for James Shields, Joakim Soria and Midwives like Luis Avilan and Xavier Cedeno. None of these people seems to beat the kind of returns Hahn got a year ago in the seven-player exchange with the New York Yankees or the Crosstown deal with the Cubs.
You may see the shops that sent Anthony Swarzak, Melky Cabrera and Dan Jennings from the city as a better prediction. These types of returns – Ryan Cordell, A.J. Puckett and Casey Gillaspie – may not inspire the imagination of fans and observers. But the rebuilding is full of surprises and everything that Hahn can get has the potential to affect the future of the White Sox.
Need proofs? Look at the August trade that sent Miguel Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers. The return leg in this deal, the not very well-announced Ti & Quan Forbes, has a nice season in class A Winston-Salem this season.
4. The next steps for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez
After Moncada, Major League players whose development is most important to the future of this team are Giolito and Lopez, two potential members of the Rotation of the future. The competition for places in this rotation is very steep, with all the evolving perspectives still developing among minors. But Giolito and Lopez can give a better hand this season with strong performances.
Giolito had problems throughout the election campaign. He is still the American League leader in walks, with 60 of them in his 19 starts. He still has an ugly 6.18 ERA, mainly thanks to three exits with at least seven earned runs. But there were also flashes of brilliance, some recently. Giolito's last two starts to close, the first half were good. He combined to allow two earned runs on only five strokes over 13.2 innings. Without a doubt, his best consecutive performances of the season.
Giolito had good starts before, just to track them down with not so good. And he has run at least three times in his last four starts. But Giolito's confidence has apparently never settled in this difficult campaign. If he can break down, as he finished the first half at the beginning of the second half, he will look more like the guy who has impressed so much in the last month of last season and in spring training this year.
Lopez In the meantime, perhaps this was the highlight of the first half for the White Sox, though he even has an ERA near 4.00. This number has been steadily rising since his notable start to the campaign: after earning his first seven starts, he had a 4.87 ERA over his last 12 starts after having a 2.44 number.
Lopez seemed to be more capable of raising the ship than Giolito this season. But it's not crazy to say that both boys could be in big second halves after undergoing their respective growing pains in the first three and a half months. However, the prospects are coming and they will need to step up their games if they want to claim a place in this rotation of the future.
5. Who will be this year's Nicky Delmonico?
Delmonico joined the White Sox on August 1 of last season, and last winter he had some keen White Sox fans putting his name in their lineup for 2020. This is thanks to the impressive performance he showed in the last two months of 2017, when he scored 0.373 on-base percentages in just 43 games with nine home runs and 23 RBIs.
Delmonico's luck was not so good this season. In addition to not replicating those numbers in the early stages of the season, a broken hand has ruled him out for all but 37 games. But the idea that someone unexpectedly comes and surprises, is still alive. Who could be this season?
Daniel Palka tried his best to be this guy. Although he has a good season until October, he has done some things that could be considered in the future with 24 extra-base hits in 65 games. His averages are not nearly as high as those of Delmonico in his limited time last season, but he obviously has pop.
How about Delmonico again? The fans may have relied on his future prospects in the outfield of White Sox after his slow start – and with Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo on the way – but Delmonico has returned from his stay on the list of disabled and Avisail Garcia at the beginning of the Year (19659002) The previously mentioned Cordell seemed to be a candidate for the title earlier this season, although he deals with his own injuries.
Surely there will be surprises. This is how baseball seasons work and reconstruction efforts. And if you're careful, you'll almost certainly have an unexpected name to talk about this off-season.