Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Chicago White Sox
news

White Sox News

Covey's fine start not enough to lift White Sox

Righty goes 6 strong, but Indians rally on grand slam in 9th
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Hardly any good comes from letting the leadoff batter reach in the ninth inning of a one-run game.

Such was the case on Wednesday night, when the White Sox bullpen had no answer for the surging Indians, as Jason Kipnis' walk-off grand slam off Ian Hamilton handed Chicago a 4-1 loss and spoiled a fine start by right-hander Dylan Covey at Progressive Field.

View Full Game Coverage

CLEVELAND -- Hardly any good comes from letting the leadoff batter reach in the ninth inning of a one-run game.

Such was the case on Wednesday night, when the White Sox bullpen had no answer for the surging Indians, as Jason Kipnis' walk-off grand slam off Ian Hamilton handed Chicago a 4-1 loss and spoiled a fine start by right-hander Dylan Covey at Progressive Field.

View Full Game Coverage

"We battled," manager Rick Renteria said. "These guys battled. It's a situation where you got a lot of guys on that side that can swing the bat and you're trying to do everything you can to keep them at bay. It didn't work out.

Juan Minaya closed out the eighth inning with a strikeout, but he surrendered an infield single to Josh Donaldson to lead off the ninth. Renteria opted to bring on lefty Caleb Frare, who faced two batters, as he allowed a pinch-hit single to Yandy Diaz and retired Melky Cabrera on a popup bunt attempt. Renteria went back to the 'pen to get Hamilton, who hit Yan Gomes to load the bases before serving up the slam to Kipnis, who turned on a full-count changeup for his 1,000th career hit and 17th homer of the season.

Video: CWS@CLE: Kipnis belts emphatic walk-off grand slam

"He probably saw it right out of my hands," Hamilton said.

The White Sox have now lost the first two in this three-game series and eight consecutive at Progressive Field, the most since losing 11 in a row on the road from May 25, 1931-May 30, 1932.

"It wasn't for lack of effort," said Daniel Palka, who went 1-for-4, including a home run in the sixth off Indians starter Carlos Carrasco that gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead. "For it to kind of just slip away in the ninth was tough. But it wasn't ugly, per se. Just stuff fell in."

Covey, who was in line for his first win since Aug. 31, held the Tribe to two hits across six shutout innings The right-hander struck out five and walked three in a no-decision.

"Today, I wasn't really focusing on the score," Covey said. "It was kind of just like, all right, one inning at a time, one batter at a time. Put myself in a couple holes, but kind of kept that same mentality."

Video: CWS@CLE: Covey gets Ramirez looking to end the 5th

Covey escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third inning by striking out Yonder Alonso on an 88-mph changeup. After Alonso's strikeout, Covey retired the final 10 batters he faced and finished his outing with 95 pitches, the most he's thrown since Aug. 18, when he went 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Royals.

Renteria said it was an encouraging sign for Covey, who recorded 14 groundouts.

"He did a great job," Renteria said. "He looked very, very good. His ball had a lot of good action. I would venture to say if you asked the guys over there, the ball he was using today was moving pretty strong."

The 27-year-old Covey felt he successfully mixed his pitches, and was especially effective with his cutter. It was the deepest Covey has pitched into a game since going 8 1/3 innings in a win over the Mariners on July 21.

"I think today is the best my stuff has been all year," Covey said. "Even better than some of those games where I went a little bit deeper ... these guys have beaten me before when I tried to climb the ladder a little bit with them."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Palka one-out go-ahead homer in the sixth inning off Carrasco, who racked up 11 strikeouts over his six strong innings, was his third homer in three games and his 26th of the season, which tied Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. for the lead among rookies.

Video: CWS@CLE: Palka breaks scoreless tie with HR to center

"I'm not sure what pitch it was, but I was just looking low in the zone," Palka said. "It was just up enough for me to get under it."

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Donaldson's leadoff single in the ninth was ruled to stand after a review. The Tribe's new third baseman took a half-swing at a 2-2 changeup from Minaya, who scooped it up in front of the mound and fired to first. But Donaldson was ruled safe by first-base umpire Ryan Blakney.

Video: CWS@CLE: Donaldson's infield single stands in 9th

UP NEXT
White Sox right-hander James Shields (7-16, 4.53 ERA) will start the series finale against the Indians at 6:10 p.m. CT on Thursday at Progressive Field. Shields is 2-2 with a 5.34 ERA over his last five starts, and he is 5-8 in 22 career starts against the Tribe. Righty Josh Tomlin (1-5, 6.59 ERA) will start for Cleveland.

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Chicago White Sox, Dylan Covey

Kopech undergoes successful TJ surgery

White Sox prospect should be ready for Spring Training in 2020
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- The White Sox announced on Wednesday that rookie right-hander Michael Kopech underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, and he is back home recovering from a successful procedure.

The operation was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Kopech is expected to make a full recovery in time to participate at Spring Training in 2020.

View Full Game Coverage

CLEVELAND -- The White Sox announced on Wednesday that rookie right-hander Michael Kopech underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, and he is back home recovering from a successful procedure.

The operation was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Kopech is expected to make a full recovery in time to participate at Spring Training in 2020.

View Full Game Coverage

"Hopefully it will be the last time he ever has to live through something like this," manager Rick Renteria said before the middle game of the series against the Indians on Wednesday at Progressive Field.

Renteria offered advice to Kopech, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 13 overall by MLB Pipeline, on what to expect over the next year and a half. Renteria told him the recovery process may at times be more of a mental grind than physical.

"Obviously it went well, and I think he understands intellectually what it's going to require of him," Renteria said. "And I'm sure that as driven as he is, he'll understand the heart it's going to take to continue to work through this.

"It's a patient process to make sure he comes through this as well as possible [and] to give himself a chance to be that guy we all believe he's gonna be once he's recovered."

Video: CWS@DET: Kopech tosses 6 strong vs. Tigers

Kopech, 22, was part of the blockbuster deal that sent left-hander Chris Sale to the Red Sox. The White Sox acquired Yoan Moncada and outfield prospect Luis Basabe in that trade in December 2016. Kopech, who was called up from Triple-A Charlotte on Aug. 21, started four games in the Majors before sustaining the season-ending UCL injury on Sept. 8.

With the Sox, Kopech went 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 14 1/3 innings.

"He is a guy who is very disciplined, he's a hard worker but I think we're probably gonna stay on top of him to make sure he doesn't do more than what he's supposed to," Renteria said. "Sometimes I think more is better, and that's not necessarily the case. It's guarded, it's measured, it's following a protocol of routine and work and, obviously, healing."

Worth noting
• All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu was released from a Cleveland hospital on Wednesday after he was admitted the previous day to treat an infection in his right thigh. According to Renteria, Abreu is on a "heavy dose" of antibiotics and is recuperating at the team hotel. However, Renteria also didn't rule out Abreu missing the remainder of the season.

"I'm not gonna put him in any position to feel pressured to return for the weekend [series at home against the Cubs]," Renteria said. "We're not gonna be in any rush to get him back on the field. I think the most important thing is for that thing is to maintain sterility, it's clean, and it's not putting him in any position where we could aggravate it."

• Catcher Welington Castillo is day to day with a hyperextended left elbow sustained during a swing on Sunday against the Orioles. Renteria said Castillo aggravated the elbow swinging during batting practice.

• Outfielder Nicky Delmonico was again out of the starting lineup on Wednesday, as he recovers from neck stiffness sustained on Sunday. Castillo and Delmonico both sat out Tuesday night's 5-3 loss to the Tribe.

"It's a long season," Renteria said. "We're not the only club who goes through a lot of aches and pains, things of that nature. We have to make sure they are able to participate in a safe fashion."

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Chicago White Sox, Michael Kopech

Rodon looks to build off outing against Tribe

White Sox lefty's string of quality road starts snapped at 6
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Despite the final result, White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon is certain he made a step in the right direction on Tuesday night.

Rodon struggled with consistency against a troublesome Indians lineup in a 5-3 loss at Progressive Field. Chicago has now lost seven of its last 10.

View Full Game Coverage

CLEVELAND -- Despite the final result, White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon is certain he made a step in the right direction on Tuesday night.

Rodon struggled with consistency against a troublesome Indians lineup in a 5-3 loss at Progressive Field. Chicago has now lost seven of its last 10.

View Full Game Coverage

"I felt better than I did the last outing," said Rodon, who walked five through six innings against the Royals on Wednesday. "Just didn't go my way tonight. Couple pitches I wish I had back. But mechanically and stuff, week to week, I feel better this start than I did the start before as far as consistency and command."

Rodon (6-6) was charged with five runs and scattered seven hits, while logging seven innings against the Tribe. He walked three, hit two batters and recorded one strikeout as his string of six straight quality starts on the road was snapped in the series opener.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said the box score did no justice for Rodon, who made just his 18th start after missing the first two-plus months of the season recovering from a left shoulder injury. Given that Rodon is still trying to find his delivery, the skipper said there were plenty of positives to take away.

"Didn't look like he was throwing bad, actually," Renteria said. "Looked like he had good stuff, they just had some things open up on him."

Aside from a two-run second inning, Rodon was able to keep pace with Indians ace Corey Kluber, who efficiently held the White Sox hitless until the third. Kluber needed only 12 pitches to navigate the first two innings and 40 pitches to get through the first four. After a six-pitch first, Rodon needed 31 pitches to get through the second and he allowed four straight batters to reach, including run-scoring hits from Melky Cabrera and Yan Gomes to open scoring.

Kluber allowed all three runs on eight hits through eight innings. He struck out 11 for his career-high 19th win as he surpassed the 200-strikeout and innings plateaus for the fifth straight year.

"Vintage Kluber," Renteria said. "He stays below the zone and it's one of those things you have to make an adjustment with, otherwise he's gonna just continue to stay in there. And he goes to both sides of the plate very, very well."

Rodon was tagged for three more runs in the fifth, in which he needed 22 pitches to escape the frame. Jason Kipnis belted a 3-1 fastball over the right-field wall for his 16th home run of the season. Rodon then surrendered a single to Francisco Lindor and hit Jose Ramirez to set the table for a two-run single by Yandy Diaz that gave the Indians a 5-0 lead.

Video: CWS@CLE: Diaz rips a 2-run single into right-center

"I've faced this team quite a few times and I think this is one of the best lineups they've put up there since I've been playing against them," said Rodon, now 0-2 in four starts against the Tribe in '18. "That's a playoff team. That's why they're there."

Despite the minor setback, Rodon is 5-3 over his last 13 starts, logging 10 quality starts with a 2.87 ERA. But it was also his eighth start of at least seven innings, something that admittedly gives the 25-year-old something to take away.

"I didn't feel I was laboring too much," Rodon said. "Stuff was coming out easy, even though I didn't throw too many fastballs super hard. I just felt like I was a little more consistent than I had been. I'm just looking forward to making this next start."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The White Sox got on the board when Daniel Palka and Omar Narvaez connected for solo homers off Kluber in the sixth. Palka's 25th of the season traveled a projected 418 feet with an exit velocity of 105.8 mph, according to Statcast™.

Video: CWS@CLE: Palka drills his 25th homer of the season

Palka, who is one shy of tying Matt Davidson for the fourth-most homers by a rookie in franchise history, tied the Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. for the most by a rookie this season. Palka, who finished 1-for-4, is batting .350 (7-for-20) through the first seven games of this road trip, with four homers, six RBIs and five runs scored.

"I'm not trying to chase teenage phenoms," Palka joked. "I'm not too worried about it. I'm just going out there and doing what I can."

Video: CWS@CLE: Narvaez lifts a solo home run to right field

UP NEXT
White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.64 ERA) will start the middle game of this series against the Indians at 6:10 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Progressive Field. Covey is 0-6 with an 8.68 ERA over his past six starts and is 1-2 in six career appearances against the Tribe. Righty Carlos Carrasco (16-8, 3.41 ERA) starts for Cleveland.

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Chicago White Sox, Omar Narvaez, Daniel Palka, Carlos Rodon

Abreu hospitalized with infection in thigh

White Sox slugger considered day to day, will miss series vs. Cleveland
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- It's unclear when White Sox slugger Jose Abreu will play baseball again, but it definitely won't be against the Indians this week.

The All-Star first baseman was sent to a nearby hospital in Cleveland due to a right thigh infection that's unrelated to his recent stint on the disabled list, the club announced before Tuesday's series opener at Progressive Field.

View Full Game Coverage

CLEVELAND -- It's unclear when White Sox slugger Jose Abreu will play baseball again, but it definitely won't be against the Indians this week.

The All-Star first baseman was sent to a nearby hospital in Cleveland due to a right thigh infection that's unrelated to his recent stint on the disabled list, the club announced before Tuesday's series opener at Progressive Field.

View Full Game Coverage

"They cleaned him up and he's recovering real well," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He's out for the series. We'll see how he's doing once we get him home and know what to do."

Abreu is considered day to day, but he recently missed time recovering from surgery to relieve pain caused by testicular torsion, which put him on the DL from Aug. 22-Sept. 10. Abreu, 31, is hitting .265/.325/.473 with 22 homers and 78 RBIs through 128 games this season, his fifth in the big leagues with Chicago.

Renteria said it's another tough break for the team, but the priority is to make sure Abreu will return completely healthy.

"It's been a tough year," Renteria said. "Obviously, a few different things, but you know, he's dealing with it the best he possibly can. It's not one of these things you expect, but it happens. They're dealing with it, he's dealing with it and we're looking for a full recovery."

Worth noting
• Outfielder Nicky Delmonico was a late scratch in Tuesday's lineup due to neck stiffness, but Renteria said the ailment isn't expected to be serious, Delmonico will be evaluated by trainers prior to Wednesday's game.

Delmonico tweaked his neck on a sliding play in the club's 8-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday, but he stayed in the game. Ryan LaMarre started in his place on Tuesday.

"Nicky was originally in the lineup, but when we came in, he was stiff," Renteria said. "He experienced some stiffness in his neck. It doesn't make sense -- maybe he can't turn his head to hit -- to keep him in there."

Video: Palka carries the freight for the White Sox

Daniel Palka was in the lineup Tuesday as the team's designated hitter after the outfielder jammed his right shoulder diving for a fly ball in the ninth inning on Sunday. He was listed after the game as day to day. Renteria said Palka may be back in the field on Wednesday.

"Palka seems fine," Renteria said. "Didn't have any complaints that I'm aware of right now. We'll see how he's hitting."

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Chicago White Sox, Jose Abreu

Vizquel a natural in first year as Class A skipper

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The first year of managing for Omar Vizquel finished as a true success.

Vizquel's Class A Winston-Salem squad, which is the White Sox representative in the Carolina League, reached the playoffs by winning both the first and second half in the Southern Division, and producing an overall record of 84-54. Vizquel, who previously managed Team Venezuela during the 2017 World Baseball Classic and served as the Detroit Tigers' first-base coach from 2014-17, was named the 2018 Carolina League Manager of the Year.

CHICAGO -- The first year of managing for Omar Vizquel finished as a true success.

Vizquel's Class A Winston-Salem squad, which is the White Sox representative in the Carolina League, reached the playoffs by winning both the first and second half in the Southern Division, and producing an overall record of 84-54. Vizquel, who previously managed Team Venezuela during the 2017 World Baseball Classic and served as the Detroit Tigers' first-base coach from 2014-17, was named the 2018 Carolina League Manager of the Year.

Winning games at the Minor League level is important, especially for a White Sox rebuild trying to build a certain culture as players move toward the Majors. But in working with top White Sox prospects -- including right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease (No. 5), outfielder/designated hitter Micker Adolfo (No. 11), outfielders Luis Robert (No. 3), Luis Alexander Basabe (No. 9) and Blake Rutherford (No. 7) and infielder Nick Madrigal (No. 4), who also happened to be the team's top pick in the 2018 Draft -- development defines success as much as victories.

And Vizquel -- 51, with 24 years of big league experience, 11 Gold Glove Awards earned at shortstop and 2,877 hits -- was the right man to combine both goals.

"Well, it was a very exciting year," said Vizquel during a Monday morning conference call. "It was interesting, because sometimes you don't know what to expect from these guys. But as soon as you see them go on the field, you see the kind of talent they have. We played the game the right way. And in the long run, got to know some of the guys that I never worked with before."

"It's been awesome," said Madrigal during a recent interview of playing for Vizquel. "Even just talking the game. You can tell he has a great baseball mind and knows the game really well. It's been awesome getting close to him."

Madrigal spoke about Vizquel taking ground balls before some games and looking as if he never lost a step. So Vizquel led by example as well.

Vizquel gave high marks to his staff made up of coach Guillermo Quiroz, pitching coach Matt Zaleski and hitting coach Charlie Poe for contributing to the Dash's success. Vizquel compared managing at this level to being a teacher in second grade in that sometimes you have to send the message two or three times until it processes.

Once the young players trust the information and see it work on the field, they begin to understand the right things that need to be done to get to the next level. Communication, according to Vizquel, is the key, which is a mantra he preached upon first taking the job.

"Yeah, no doubt about it. I think that's the No. 1 thing you have to do with your players," Vizquel said. "If you know what the plan is and give it to them, and they know what their role is for the team, it makes things easier for everybody. They are not expecting anything weird. Every time you make a change or something different with them, you have to let them know.

"You can't catch them by surprise, because that's when things start getting mixed up. But if you have a plan and you give it to them and you kind of work at that, and you try to improve on that, they know where you are coming from and what are the things you are trying to accomplish."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox

Palka's 2-HR day sets Sox rookie record in loss

Giolito hurt by mistakes in Orioles' five-run first inning
MLB.com @scottmerkin

Even with six runs (four earned) allowed over six innings, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito deserved a better result during the Orioles' 8-4 victory Sunday afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Giolito allowed five runs in the first inning against Baltimore, but he should have escaped giving up one run and maybe completely unscathed.

View Full Game Coverage

Even with six runs (four earned) allowed over six innings, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito deserved a better result during the Orioles' 8-4 victory Sunday afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Giolito allowed five runs in the first inning against Baltimore, but he should have escaped giving up one run and maybe completely unscathed.

View Full Game Coverage

"It happens," Giolito told reporters after falling to 10-11. "We just didn't come out, ready to play defense, myself included."

Cedric Mullins opened with a solid double to left-center, but the White Sox had a chance to nail Mullins as he got stuck between second and third on Joey Rickard's bunt in front of the plate. Catcher Welington Castillo fielded the bunt but waited too long on the throw to second and Mullins slid back in safely.

Jonathan Villar followed with a run-scoring single, and Adam Jones dropped a single into right for a 2-0 lead. After a Trey Mancini strikeout, Villar scored when Yoan Moncada tried to come home on DJ Stewart's hard-hit grounder to second with the infield in. Moncada made a nice pickup, but his throw to Castillo was a little up the first-base line, allowing Villar to race home from third and slide in safely. 

First baseman Matt Davidson's fielding error on a Renato Nunez grounder brought home the fourth run, and Breyvic Valera's sacrifice fly completed the five-run first. After that tough opener, Giolito yielded one run over the next five innings, striking out one and walking two.

Video: CWS@BAL: Valera drives in O's 5th run of the 1st

"Quite a few pitches that inning that I left up over the plate and the next thing you know, five runs on the board," said Giolito, referring to the first. "But after that, tried to grind through the rest and tried to get through six."

"It wasn't actually one of those things where you go, 'Gosh, they're really getting to him.' For the first inning being what it was, he really did actually do a very nice job," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told reporters. "Ate up some innings, gave us some ups, and we were able to get back into the latter half of our ballgame with some of our relievers."

Video: CWS@BAL: Giolito escapes bases-loaded jam

The long ball provided the White Sox offense. Daniel Palka homered twice, giving him a team-high 24, and breaking a previous tie at 22 with Pete Ward (1963) for the most homers by a left-handed hitting rookie in White Sox history. Yolmer Sanchez also went deep, a two-run shot as part of a three-run fifth.

"We chipped away," Renteria said. "We tried to come back, we scored some runs."

Video: CWS@BAL: Sanchez crushes 2-run HR

"I'm happy with how I pitched after the first inning," Giolito said. "Hung a changeup that was a home run. My changeup overall today, didn't have a good feel for it. Kind of like last week, but I tried to make pitches and grind through."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Palka banged up: Palka exited in the ninth after trying to make a sliding catch on Nunez's leadoff double to right, sustaining a jammed right knee and tweaking his left side.

Video: CWS@BAL: Palka leaves game after diving for ball

"I just kind of jammed into the ground. It was more just, I don't get what happened, kind of bad ground. It just kind of stuck when I slid," said Palka, who is day to day. "Yeah, yeah. I'll be fine."

"They checked him out. He seems fine," Renteria said. "I'm sure he'll be a little sore tomorrow, and we'll know a little more. Day to day. He should be fine."

SOUND SMART
Moncada struck out three times in Sunday's setback, giving him a Major League high 201 overall.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Palka's first home run had a 111.8 mph exit velocity and 40 degree launch angle, per Statcast™. It was his 10th home run hit with 110+ mph exit velocity this season, tying him for third-most with Nelson Cruz, behind Joey Gallo (16) and Giancarlo Stanton (15). Palka also hit his second homer with both 110+ mph and 40+ degrees, making him the only player since Statcast™ began recording data with more than one 110+/40+ home run.

HE SAID IT
"It's not really something I thought about -- leading or not leading. I kind of thought I knew what I could do, and I'm sitting right around there. Kind of gave away the other two at-bats with guys on base, but yeah, it was a good day." -- Palka, on taking the team lead with two homers, while also leaving four on base with a groundout and a strikeout

UP NEXT
Following a Monday off-day, Carlos Rodon (6-5, 3.10) is scheduled to make his 18th start of the season, 10th on the road and fourth of the season against Cleveland with a 6:10 p.m. CT first pitch scheduled at Progressive Field Tuesday. Rodon and Dylan Covey had their starts flip-flopped, with Rodon going closer to regular rest after pitching last Wednesday in Kansas City, while now also being able to face the Cubs on Sunday. He is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA lifetime at Progressive Field.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Lucas Giolito

30 breakout performers -- 1 for each team

Whether rookies or players who finally turned the corner, a look at the season's breakthrough performances
MLB.com @williamfleitch

Of the hundreds of great Albert Pujols factoids, here's my favorite one: He only made the Cardinals' roster in 2001, his rookie season, because Bobby Bonilla had a Spring Training injury, opening up a roster spot. All Pujols did that year was hit .329/.403/.610, win the National League Rookie of the Year Award and, of course, begin a career that'll finish in Cooperstown. It was his breakthrough year, and it was undeniable.

You can't expect everyone -- or anyone -- to have a breakthrough like Pujols did. But when a breakthrough happens, you can't miss it. Today we take a look at players on each team who, in 2018, had the breakthrough year that augurs great things for the future. Some of them are rookies, some of them just finally turned the corner, but all of them are players we'll be talking about for years to come. And this was the year they got it all started.

Of the hundreds of great Albert Pujols factoids, here's my favorite one: He only made the Cardinals' roster in 2001, his rookie season, because Bobby Bonilla had a Spring Training injury, opening up a roster spot. All Pujols did that year was hit .329/.403/.610, win the National League Rookie of the Year Award and, of course, begin a career that'll finish in Cooperstown. It was his breakthrough year, and it was undeniable.

You can't expect everyone -- or anyone -- to have a breakthrough like Pujols did. But when a breakthrough happens, you can't miss it. Today we take a look at players on each team who, in 2018, had the breakthrough year that augurs great things for the future. Some of them are rookies, some of them just finally turned the corner, but all of them are players we'll be talking about for years to come. And this was the year they got it all started.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez, OF
Key stat: 20 homers

The strikeouts are a little higher than you'd like, but for a guy who didn't make the Opening Day roster, the power has been a revelation for the Blue Jays.

Video: CLE@TOR: Hernandez crushes a 3-run home run to center

Orioles: Tanner Scott
Key stat: 12.9 K/9

It has been the sort of year in Baltimore that a middle reliever with a high strikeout rate is your breakthrough player … but a 23-year-old with that strikeout rate shouldn't be ignored.

Video: BAL@TEX: Scott K's Guzman with the bases loaded

Rays: Blake Snell
Key stat: 2.03 ERA, 19 wins

This was the year the Rays were waiting for from Snell. Maybe he's the only starter they need!

Video: CLE@TB: Snell gets Diaz, takes no-hitter to 7th

Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts
Key stat: .288/.359/.519

Remember, Bogaerts was a below-average hitter last year. With all the homers at Fenway this year, it's easy to miss that he has more than doubled his total from 2017.

Video: HOU@BOS: Bogaerts clubs a solo homer over the Monster

Yankees: Aaron Hicks
Key stat: 4.1 WAR (Baseball Reference)

With all the injury problems the Yankees have, Hicks is proving that he can be a near-star-level player. 

Video: TOR@NYY: Hicks opens the scoring with RBI single

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Jose Ramirez
Key stat: .282/.396/.578

Sure, Ramirez was terrific last year too, but by converting those doubles into homers, he has turned into the AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate no one saw coming.

Video: Ramirez makes history, joins the exclusive 30-30 club

Royals: Brad Keller
Key stat: 3.04 ERA

Keller had a 4.68 ERA in Double-A Jackson last year, but he has been the Royals' best pitcher this year. He just turned 23 years old as well.

Video: CWS@KC: Keller twirls 7 strong innings in win

Tigers: Niko Goodrum
Key stat: 16 homers

Goodrum was 1-for-17 in 2017 with Minnesota and never hit more than 13 homers in eight years in the Minors. He may end up leading the Tigers in homers this year.

Video: DET@CWS: Goodrum clubs a game-tying solo HR in 7th

Twins: Jose Berrios
Key stat: 3.81 ERA, tied for league lead in complete games and shutouts

Berrios will end up adding about 50 innings to his 2017 total, which gets him closer to being the ace the Twins have been waiting on. He's still 24.

Video: MIN@KC: Berrios strikes out 9 over 6 strong innings

White Sox: Carlos Rodon
Key stat: 3.10 ERA

Rodon's strikeout rate has dropped, but everything else has been golden for him this year, and he looks like a rotation mainstay moving forward.

Video: CWS@KC: Rodon lets up 2 runs, K's 5 over 6 innings

AL WEST

Angels: Shohei Ohtani
Key stat: .370 OBP, 3.31 ERA

The injury is (obviously) a bummer, but seriously, once it heals, it looks like Ohtani really might be able to both pitch and hit in this league, and at high levels.

Video: Must C Combo: Trout, Ohtani smash back-to-back homers

Astros: Alex Bregman
Key stats: .294/.401/.551

Bregman has unquestionably been the best position player on a team full of great ones.

Video: Bregman has 30 homer, 50 double, 100 RBI season

Athletics: Matt Chapman
Key stat: 8.1 WAR (Baseball Reference)

We all knew Chapman could play defense like no one else on earth. But he has raised both his OBP and SLG 50 points from his rookie year. Look out.

Video: OAK@TB: Chapman clubs solo homer off Romo 434 feet

Mariners: Edwin Diaz
Key stat: 55 saves

The Mariners have relied on Diaz more than any team has relied on any reliever, and he has responded nearly every time.

Video: SEA@LAA: Diaz induces flyout, notches his 55th save

Rangers: Jose Leclerc
Key stat: 13.8 K/9

Leclerc has always been able to strike guys out, but he dropped his walk rate in half this year.

Video: TEX@SD: Leclerc whiffs Reyes to earn his 11th save

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Key stat: .292/.368/.574

Remember when Acuna was struggling? He looks like he'll be ready to compete for the NL MVP Award as soon as next year. Acuna won't be able to buy his first drink until December.

Video: WSH@ATL: Acuna records 1st career 4-hit game in win

Marlins: Brian Anderson
Key stat: .270/.353/.395

If Anderson's competition consisted of mere mortals instead of some absolute studs this year, he'd be a legitimate NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate.

Video: MIA@NYM: Anderson lines an RBI triple to right field

Mets: Jacob deGrom
Key stat: 1.78 ERA

It's possible that deGrom may be what we remember most from this season.

Video: NYM@BOS: deGrom fans Betts for his 10th K through 5

Nationals: Juan Soto
Key stat: .305/.421/.532

It's easy not to fret about your former superstar teenager possibly leaving when you have another one that just shows up on your roster.

Video: WSH@ATL: Soto knocks in Harper on 9th inning single

Phillies: Aaron Nola
Key stat: 16-5, 2.42 ERA

The Phillies have been excited about Nola for a while. But even they didn't see this coming.

Video: WSH@PHI: Nola K's Rendon to end the frame

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Christian Yelich
Key stat: .313/.381/.556

Yelich is not only having a better year than Marcell Ozuna, he's having a better year than Giancarlo Stanton.

Video: PIT@MIL: Yelich crushes his 30th homer of the season

Cardinals: Jack Flaherty
2.86 ERA

The Cards have had a few of these guys -- from Miles Mikolas to Harrison Bader to Yairo Munoz -- but we'll go with the guy who would start the NL Wild Card Game.

Video: LAD@STL: Flaherty whiffs 8 Dodgers, allows just 1 run

Cubs: Javier Baez
Key stat: .294/.328/.563

The batting average and on-base percentage are about what you'd expect from Baez, but that slugging leads the NL.

Video: Must C Combo: Baez homers, executes key bunt in win

Pirates: Trevor Williams
Key stat: 1.19 second-half ERA

If the real Williams is anything close to this, with Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer, the Pirates have quite a threesome in the rotation moving forward.

Video: PIT@MIL: Williams tosses 6 scoreless vs. Brewers

Reds: Eugenio Suarez
Key stat: 101 RBIs

No Red has led the NL in RBIs since Dave Parker in 1985, and Suarez is right there with Trevor Story and Baez for the top spot.

Video: LAD@CIN: Suarez belts a solo home run to right

NL WEST

D-backs: Patrick Corbin
Key stat: 11-5, 3.05 ERA

The pending free agent has picked an excellent year to have his career season.

Video: ARI@COL: Corbin gets Blackmon swinging

Dodgers: Max Muncy
Key stat: .258/.389/.577

Muncy has cooled down a little bit in the second half, but of all the players to lead the Dodgers in homers this year, this guy would have been pretty far down everybody's list in the preseason.

Video: NYM@LAD: Muncy hits towering 2-run homer to center

Giants: Dereck Rodriguez
Key stat: 2.30 ERA

The Giants are almost too old to have too many breakthrough players, but Rodriguez has actually been the team's leader in WAR (Baseball Reference) this year.

Video: COL@SF: Rodriguez K's 5 over 6 strong frames vs. Rox

Padres: Franmil Reyes
Key stat: .848 OPS

The numbers are better than many realize, but the real joy of Reyes is bringing something unique and exciting to a franchise that could use it.

Video: SD@ARI: Reyes smashes a 3-run homer to right-center

Rockies: Kyle Freeland
Key stat: 15-7, 2.96 ERA

According to Baseball Reference WAR, Freeland is having the second-best season by a Rockies pitcher in franchise history … and he's got a real chance to chase down 2010 Ubaldo Jimenez by season's end.

Video: ARI@COL: Freeland K's Jay, the side in the 3rd

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Lopez spins gem, helps White Sox blank O's

Righty logs 4th straight quality start with 7 scoreless frames
MLB.com @scottmerkin

The at-bat between White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez and Tim Beckham lasted 10 pitches during the seventh inning of a 2-0 White Sox victory over the Orioles Saturday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

It took place with Trey Mancini on second, Chris Davis on first and Lopez trying to protect a slim advantage in search of the team's third straight victory on this road trip. Beckham fouled off six pitches in working the count full, before swinging and missing at a Lopez slider for the second out of the frame.

View Full Game Coverage

The at-bat between White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez and Tim Beckham lasted 10 pitches during the seventh inning of a 2-0 White Sox victory over the Orioles Saturday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

It took place with Trey Mancini on second, Chris Davis on first and Lopez trying to protect a slim advantage in search of the team's third straight victory on this road trip. Beckham fouled off six pitches in working the count full, before swinging and missing at a Lopez slider for the second out of the frame.

View Full Game Coverage

Video: CWS@BAL: Lopez strikes out Beckham in key 10-pitch AB

Lopez pounded his glove after the big strikeout, and then composed himself to retire Renato Nunez on a weak popup to first baseman Jose Abreu. It was the end of the evening for Lopez, but it was once again a job well done.

"I'm very satisfied that I was able to manage the jam, the situation in that inning," said Lopez through interpreter Billy Russo. "I was just trying to keep the control of the game. Sometimes, the game is a little fast and you have to control it. You have to slow down. I was able to slow down the game and perform."

"He was just able to continue to command to the best of his ability. He needed to eat those outs up for us to allow us to do what we did on the back side," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He's showing you he's got endurance, he's got strength, he's gaining understanding of the situation, how to work through and manage those situations, which is really big."

Over his seven innings and 104 pitches, Lopez struck out six and walked one while yielding four hits. Saturday's effort marked Lopez's third time in four starts where he worked at least seven innings, and in his last 27 innings covering four starts, Lopez has given up two earned runs while striking out 28 and walking six.

Davidson returns to lineup after resting calf

Baltimore had 11 swinging strikes against Lopez, per Statcast™, with six coming against the slider, and none bigger than Beckham's in the seventh. Lopez also produced 21 called strikes, with 13 coming off a fastball topping out at 98.2 mph.

"Good job by Lopey. Just really threw the ball well," Renteria said. "Change was working. Fastball was hitting spots. Very successful getting out of that seventh inning."

Yolmer Sanchez drove in the game's first run with a two-out double off Yefry Ramirez in the sixth. His double easily scored Yoan Moncada, who also had doubled with two outs. That run stood up until Avisail Garcia connected for his 18th home run of the season, and his 75th career homer, with two outs in the ninth. Garcia also matched his single-season career-high for homers, set in 2017.

Video: CWS@BAL: Garcia hammers a solo homer to deep left

"I was looking for a breaking pitch. They had been throwing it to me all night. I was around the ball a little bit. … But the last at-bat, I made the adjustment, and I got it," Garcia said. "We came here to play 100 percent … and try to do our best and try to win every single game. Just trying to do our job."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Minaya closes it out: Despite giving up a single and a walk in the ninth inning, Juan Minaya picked up his first save of the season with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Minaya was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after an outing on May 3 with a 10.80 ERA in five games at that time. Since his return on June 14, Minaya has posted a 2.75 ERA in 39 1/3 innings over 41 games, with 49 strikeouts and 19 walks.

Video: CWS@BAL: Minaya retires Nunez, earns the save

SOUND SMART
The White Sox are 14-5 on the road since Aug. 3, the second-best record in the Major Leagues behind Houston (15-5). They have outscored their opponents, 93-71, during that span.

HE SAID IT
"I am feeling good. We know that in a long season, the last month is probably the hardest one, and that is the way it was working. Now, I'm feeling good. My body is good. My arm is very strong."-- Lopez

UP NEXT
Right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito (10-10, 5.76 ERA) is scheduled to make his 30th start of 2018, 16th on the road and second career against the Orioles with a 12:05 p.m. CT first pitch Sunday afternoon. Giolito is 3-1 with a 4.01 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings over his last five starts. He still leads the American League with 81 walks. David Hess will take the hill for Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Reynaldo Lopez

Davidson back in lineup after resting calf

Special to MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Matt Davidson returned to the lineup for Saturday night's 2-0 win against the Orioles after missing four straight games with a strained left calf, and he will play again on Sunday, according to White Sox manager Rick Renteria

Davidson went 0-for-3 with a strikeout while batting in the No. 7 spot as the designated hitter, and despite not getting a hit, Renteria liked what he saw.

View Full Game Coverage

BALTIMORE -- Matt Davidson returned to the lineup for Saturday night's 2-0 win against the Orioles after missing four straight games with a strained left calf, and he will play again on Sunday, according to White Sox manager Rick Renteria

Davidson went 0-for-3 with a strikeout while batting in the No. 7 spot as the designated hitter, and despite not getting a hit, Renteria liked what he saw.

View Full Game Coverage

"He took some good swings," Renteria said. "He missed one in the second at-bat, I thought."

Overall, everything went well for Davidson, and that eased some of Renteria's concerns about putting him in on back-to-back days.

"He'll be back in there at first base tomorrow," Renteria said.

Davidson had yet to play on this road trip, missing the entire three-game series in Kansas City, and he also sat out of Friday night's 8-6 victory over the Orioles.

Davidson has 20 homers and 58 RBIs this season, and Renteria said before the game that he was glad to get him into the lineup once more.

"Just [want to] get him back in there, get his bat in there," Renteria said before the game."It's been five days now since he's played. I want to make sure he gets in there and gets some at-bats."

Notes

Ryan Cordell made a nice trade after Friday's win. The rookie got his first Major League homer (and hit) in the eighth inning, and the fan who caught it in left field gave Cordell the ball in exchange for a ball and a bat along with a picture outside of the White Sox locker room.

• The American League East has a number of tough teams -- start with the Red Sox and Yankees -- but the White Sox have done well in the division's home ballparks. After last night's game, Chicago is 9-4 in AL East road contests.

• After Friday's game, the White Sox have struck out 1,421 times this season, tops in the Major Leagues and a franchise record.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Chicago White Sox, Matt Davidson

Bullpen hangs on after Shields baffles O's

Right-hander dominates for first road win since Opening Day
MLB.com @scottmerkin

Back on March 29, James Shields picked up the victory for the White Sox in their season opener against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

All was right with the world for the South Siders at that time. That contest also happened to mark the veteran hurler's last road win until Friday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where the White Sox held on for an 8-6 victory over the Orioles.

View Full Game Coverage

Back on March 29, James Shields picked up the victory for the White Sox in their season opener against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

All was right with the world for the South Siders at that time. That contest also happened to mark the veteran hurler's last road win until Friday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where the White Sox held on for an 8-6 victory over the Orioles.

View Full Game Coverage

Shields was steady as usual, allowing two Trey Mancini solo homers over six innings, while striking out five and walking one. He pitched at least six innings for the 24th time in 2018 and ended a stretch of 12 straight appearances (11 starts) on the road without a victory.

With calf improving, Davidson available vs. O's

"This year's been kind of a struggle getting the [wins]," Shields told reporters after improving to 7-16. "I've thrown a lot of quality starts this year, and unfortunately, it just hasn't gone my way. The guys are grinding for me. There's no doubt about that. Tonight was a great night, and I'm glad I could do my part."

"James gave us another quality start," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told reporters. "I still think he wanted to go back out, especially with a five-run lead. I know he didn't want to come out, but I thought it was the right time. It was a good victory for him."

The White Sox built up a five-run lead behind home runs from Avisail Garcia and Omar Narvaez and three hits from Yoan Moncada. But the Orioles scored four in the seventh to creep within one.

Video: CWS@BAL: Garcia slugs a 2-run homer to left field

Jace Fry and Nate Jones finished off the White Sox second straight victory, and their second victory in four games on this nine-game road trip. Jones picked up his single-season career-best fifth save, and his first since May 22, also against Baltimore. Jones was out from June 13 to Sept. 10 with a pronator strain.

"They kept chipping away," Renteria said. "I guess it wasn't the cleanest game, but it was nonetheless a good effort by everybody, just to keep playing and try to get it done."

Video: CWS@BAL: Jones shuts the door to collect the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cordell gets No. 1: After the Orioles cut the White Sox lead to one in the seventh, Ryan Cordell gave Fry a little more room for error in the eighth with his first career home run in the top half of the frame, which also was his first career hit. Cordell connected on a 3-1 fastball from Tanner Scott to raise the margin to 8-6. The drive had a 107-mph exit velocity and traveled 419 feet per Statcast™.

Video: CWS@BAL: Cordell crushes 1st career hit, homer

"It was pretty cool, definitely after that tough bottom half of the seventh inning, to come out and get a little momentum back in our favor was pretty big," said Cordell, who got the ball back from the fan who retrieved it and told reporters he will give the ball to his parents. The fan received a bat and a ball in return.

"I was probably pressing a little bit to get that first one," Cordell added. "Took quite a few ABs, but glad it's out of the way, but we just go from here."

Video: CWS@BAL: Cordell on hitting homer for 1st career hit

Near miss: Adam Jones almost changed the outcome of this game with one swing of the bat in the Orioles' big seventh. But his drive to the short porch in right with the bases loaded and one out was caught by Garcia with a half-leap against the wall. It scored one on a sacrifice fly instead of four on a grand slam.

Video: CWS@BAL: Jones plates Joseph on sac fly to right

HE SAID IT
"It was tough conditions out there today. It was really misty, so the mound was really wet. Overall, pretty good game." -- Shields

UP NEXT
Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez is scheduled to make his 30th start of the season, 16th on the road and first vs. Baltimore, with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT Saturday night. Yefry Ramirez gets the start for the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Lopez has received a no-decision in seven of his last eight starts, with the lone win coming against the Yankees in a seven-inning, one-run outing.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, James Shields

Kopech's injury won't delay White Sox plans

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- There have been times this season when Lucas Giolito and his White Sox teammates looked out on the field at the players around them and thought about the organization's bright future ahead.

The same held true for catcher Zack Collins during his time at Double-A Birmingham.

CHICAGO -- There have been times this season when Lucas Giolito and his White Sox teammates looked out on the field at the players around them and thought about the organization's bright future ahead.

The same held true for catcher Zack Collins during his time at Double-A Birmingham.

"Sometimes, you are sitting in the dugout or whatever," Giolito said, "and we are looking around and we are like, 'We are going to be really nasty soon.'"

"There's definitely a lot of talk about it in Minor League locker rooms," Collins said. "We kind of put our team together, what we think it's going to be. You never know from year to year."

Actually, the team never knows from week to week or day to day.

It was Aug. 21, when Michael Kopech -- the team's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline and No. 13 in all of baseball -- made his exciting Major League debut at Guaranteed Rate Field. An extra boost of energy came with the arrival of this electric talent.

Video: MIN@CWS: Kopech K's 4 in MLB debut

On Sept. 7, two days after Kopech yielded seven earned runs over 3 1/3 innings with a slight drop in velocity against Detroit, general manager Rick Hahn announced a significant tear in Kopech's right ulnar collateral ligament had been found and Tommy John surgery was recommended. That procedure will sideline Kopech until Spring Training 2020.

Hahn looked shocked, understandably, with the news so fresh on that Friday. The same clearly could be said for Kopech, who was disappointed but certainly not defeated when he spoke to the media.

Some fans asserted the rebuild's growth was delayed because of Kopech's injury, as the White Sox temporarily lost their No. 2 starter and a valuable development year for the 22-year-old right-hander. But while the setback certainly changes the landscape, the rebuild plan does not waver.

Video: CWS@DET: Kopech tosses 6 strong vs. Tigers

"Part of this entire program from the start was making sure we had enough depth to withstand the inevitable setbacks that occur over the course of any Major League season," said Hahn on the day of Kopech's injury announcement. "It's disappointing because of the momentum he had built and the excitement he had created about the immediate future. But again, he's still going to be very much a part of our long-term future, and we're still very much excited about that."

Carlos Rodon presently is locked down as the staff ace, followed by Reynaldo Lopez and Giolito. It's not a huge stretch to project Dylan Cease, MLB Pipeline's 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, as part of that same rotation at some point in '19.

That configuration leaves two spots to fill early for Hahn, executive vice president Ken Williams and the White Sox front office. Internal options such as Dylan Covey, Spencer Adams (No. 26-ranked prospect) and/or Jordan Stephens (No. 20) will be in play, but at this stage of the rebuild, the White Sox also would benefit from going outside the organization for a pitcher to strengthen that front five.

Video: Top Prospects: Dylan Cease, White Sox, RHP

According to Cot's Contracts, the White Sox have only $10.9 million committed contractually in 2019, $4.5 million in '20 and $7.25 million in '21. Free agency is an option, targeting a veteran in the 27-31 age range who not only could help in Kopech's absence but be primed for the planned contending years.

Names such as Patrick Corbin (29 years old) or Dallas Keuchel (30) jump off that list going into 2019. The White Sox also could search for a veteran fill for a year or two, package some of their young talent in a trade for another controllable arm or stick from within.

Even with this extremely tough news, the team should survive and advance in Kopech's absence. It has players such as Giolito in place who excitedly glance into the future while gaining valuable experience in the present.

"Yes, this is going to be a challenge," Hahn said. "But in the coming weeks and months, we will respond to it and put ourselves in the best position for the long term."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Michael Kopech