Cannon silences Astros: 'He knows he belongs here'

No. 11 prospect comes one out shy of shutout in first Major League victory

June 19th, 2024

CHICAGO -- fell one out short of finishing the shutout in a 2-0 White Sox victory over the Astros on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, improving the White Sox to 3-21 this season in series openers.

But it was telling that the White Sox (20-54) had enough confidence in the rookie right-hander to give him a chance.

Cannon held the Astros (33-40) scoreless for 8 2/3 innings, before giving way to John Brebbia to close out the contest with runners on first and second. Cannon became the first White Sox rookie to throw at least 8 2/3 scoreless innings since Zach Stewart tossed a shutout on Sept. 5, 2011, in Minnesota, with Stewart carrying a perfect game into the eighth during that particular contest before settling for a one-hitter.

Cannon, who yielded seven hits and one walk to go with four strikeouts, was beaming over career victory No. 1 and his contribution to the pitching staff’s fourth shutout overall.

"I’ll definitely never forget this night,” Cannon said. “Hopefully the first of many more."

"That was a fun one, pitching and defense today,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. "Cannon was spectacular. [Catcher] Korey Lee and Cannon were really spectacular."

Chicago's No. 11 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Cannon made three April starts for the White Sox and returned to Triple-A Charlotte with a 7.24 ERA over 13 2/3 innings. Since rejoining the White Sox in early June, covering one relief appearance (his first career save) and two starts, Cannon has allowed one earned run on 14 hits and two walks over 18 2/3 innings, with 15 strikeouts.

White Sox senior advisor to pitching, Brian Bannister, raved about Cannon upon talking to the media on Saturday in Arizona. Cannon has backed up those plaudits.

"I think the biggest thing is the lefty attack. And then I feel like everything is a little bit sharper than it was last time," Cannon said. "Just kind of looking at some of the videos from some of my earlier outings, I like my stuff a lot better where it is right now."

"He knows he belongs here," Lee said. "It’s one of the humps you have to get over when you are in this league. You are meant to be here for a reason. He’s 100% meant to be here. I have full confidence in him. He has full confidence in me."

The White Sox scored both their runs on Andrew Vaughn fielder’s choice grounders, and that sparse output against Framber Valdez was enough for the rookie right-hander. Cannon threw his sweeper (37 pitches), sinker (31), cutter (19), and changeup (16), along with three four-seam fastballs, to effectively keep the Astros off balance and record 12 ground-ball outs.

Alex Bregman and Yainer Diaz grounded out to start the ninth, putting Cannon one out away from the first White Sox shutout since Dylan Cease came one out away from a no-hitter against the Twins on Sept. 3, 2022. But Jon Singleton’s check-swing grounder down the third-base line and Mauricio Dubón's single to center brought an end to Cannon’s night.

"We couldn’t get much going offensively,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “I thought the game plan going into the game was pretty good. He just mixes his pitches really well."

"Obviously the competitor in me wanted to get that last guy myself, but I understood the move,” Cannon said. “For Pedro to show that faith in me meant a lot to me. To be able to go out there and try to finish off the win, that was a huge confidence booster for me. That was definitely a big thing."