Friday, May 24, 2024

Building Blocks: Crochet’s Resilience Offers Hope In White Sox Tough Season

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As Kevin Pillar trotted back to the White Sox dugout in the ninth inning, chants of “sell the team” broke out at Guaranteed Rate Field. Pillar had just been picked off at first base to help put the finishing touches on a 5-0 Reds victory over the White Sox. 

It marked the fifth time the White Sox offense has been shut out this season, a season that is only 14 games young. Reds starter Nick Lodolo, who hadn’t pitched in a big league game for 343 days, took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out ten in the process. By the end of the game, the White Sox had recorded just two hits. The team’s social media account featured more photos of the campfire milkshake than actual highlights from the game. To be fair to them there weren’t many to choose from. 

It feels like rock bottom. But this franchise has continued to prove they can sink much lower. Nobody expected much for the White Sox this season. The core that was supposed to bring the South Side multiple championships has been dismantled. The keys to the front office have been turned over to Chris Getz and the team owner has been making veiled threats of moving if the team does not get a new stadium downtown. 

It begs the question what is the point of watching this team the rest of the season? It is a fair question. The offense is on pace for one of the worst offensive seasons in modern history and it feels like with each passing day more and more fans are beginning to lose interest. 

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You can’t fault someone for not wanting to waste valuable time with an inferior product. But this season is an important one nonetheless. It will be a test to see who the White Sox can go to battle with moving forward. While this season is setting up to be a brutal one for fans it will be very taxing on the players as well. The true test will see which ones are still competing in the dog days of August. 

Garrett Crochet is shaping up to be one of those guys. He had his worst start in a White Sox uniform, allowing 5 runs in the second inning. He lacked command as he tried to hit spots instead of attacking the zone as did in his first three starts of the season. But yet the hard-throwing left-hander still managed to record ten strikeouts in just 4 ⅔ innings of work. The ten strikeouts not only set a career-high, but they also gave him 31 on the season against only four walks (two of which came in that second inning). He became just the third pitcher since 1901 to record 30 or more strikeouts and four or fewer walks in his first four career starts. 

Crochet doesn’t care about the accolades. Fans probably don’t care much either. But what was impressive about his outing was how he responded after allowing a five-spot in the second inning. He recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the third. He faced the minimum again in the fourth after inducing a 5-4-3 double play and then striking out Reds center fielder Bubba Thompson with three consecutive fastballs. Crochet tacked on two more strikeouts in the fifth inning before being lifted from the game.  Things didn’t go well for him but he still battled. That is exactly the type of player the White Sox should want to build around going forward. Especially after a season when many of the key players the White Sox were counting on looked like they quit after a brutal 8-21 start to the season. 

There has been some speculation that the White Sox will try to trade away Crochet. He only has two years remaining on his contract after this season and is putting up impressive numbers to start the season. His value has never been higher. But White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said one of the reasons he picked Chris Getz as his general manager is because he wanted to turn things around quickly. 

Trading away Crochet signals that Getz doesn’t believe that the White Sox will be able to compete by 2026. What type of message does that signal to the fans? The rest of the 2024 season is going to be a tough watch. But in the process are going to find out which pieces the White Sox should be trying to build around moving forward. Crochet is showing he is one of those guys.

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