As the season rolls along, my choices for starters to profile should be wearing thin. Luckily for all of you, myself, and my relationship with anyone not in the Crab Army, spot starts and rookie callups give me the perfect intersect of my two worlds. Now as any good Seinfield fan knows, worlds colliding can be catastrophic. Just ask George Costanza. That however is not the case for your loyal and eccentric Prospector/Pitchspector. It’s all good on this end. Why? Because I’m more than happy to dig into the ratio roulette that is rookie starting pitchers. In the grand tradition of my messiah like activity on the prospect side, I’m here to observe these wild cards, provide my take, and lead you on the path to true fantasy salvation. This is a really long winded, and pompous, way to say I’m profiling Reynaldo Lopez’s White Sox debut today. I’ve been lower on Lopez than many other prospectors in the industry. For what feels like two years now, I’ve been constantly banging my shoe on the table of the United Prospect Nations, sternly proclaiming that “Lopez is a pen arm!” I’d make a joke of my followers storming the town square with Pier 1 style tiki torches, but the rest of the Lifshitz clan prolly wouldn’t appreciate that. Anywho, here’s what I saw.
Scouting Report: THE HEAT! Lopez talk must start with the uber-sexy triple digit heater. It’s an elite pitch, consistently garnering 70 grades throughout his time in the minors. The fastball sits 96-98, pops 100 with regularity, and has some decent movement, with slight armside run. High velocity, and movement does not a great fastball make however. It’s the combination of a 50% GB% with a 11.7% SwStr% on the pitch that sets it apart.
Lopez rounds out his arsenal with a a mid-80’s changeup, low-80’s curveball, and a rarely used high-80’s cutter. The change has become a bigger part of Lopez’s repertoire, after leaning on the curveball during his time in the Nationals organization. The change gets more swings and misses than his curveball, and is far more groundball happy than the hook. He’s worked in the obligatory Cooper cutter associated with all Pale Hose starters under long time pitching coach Don Cooper. All in all, the results have been good in AAA Charlotte this year. With Lopez going 6-7 over 22 starts, with a 3.79 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 131 strikeouts to 49 walks over 121 innings.
Whit Merrifield – 97 MPH pitch high in the zone, ball 1, fastball at 97 to the outer half, strike 1, another 97 MPH fastball middle-in is fouled to left, strike 2, changeup at 86 to the outer-half for strike 3.
Lorenzo Cain – 98 MPH high and inside, ball 1, 97 MPH to the lower outside corner, and it’s fouled to right, strike 1, 98 MPH fastball to the outside, ball 2, 97 on the black outside swinging strike 2, a changeup high in the zone is fouled off, 2-2 count, 98 MPH once again on the black outside swinging strike 3.
Eric Hosmer – 98 MPH fastball high and inside, fouled off, strike 1, 98 MPH to the top of the zone fouled off again, strike 2, 99 MPH heat way high, ball 1, 86 MPH changeup way outside, ball 2, a change at 87 low in the zone, ball 3, full count, a 100 MPH heater low walks Hosmer.
Melky Cabrera – 78 MPH curveball high and inside but in the zone for strike 1, 99 MPH belt high is hit to center for the third out.
Wow Lopez looked strong, really regretting not ranking him in my top 200. That was a nice big league inning. Lots of swinging strikes, and he used the change effectively. The movement didn’t look great, it’s pretty straight, but the velocity variation kept hitters off balance.
Mike Moustakas – fastball at 98 down Main Street, strike 1, curveball at 78 outside, ball 1, another fastball at 97 is fouled off, strike 2, fastball at 97, fouled off again, fastball at 97 in on the hands, is fouled off as he breaks Moustakas’ bat, and Lopez gets a lucky bounce foul, a 98 MPH fastball in the dirt, ball 2, a curveball that bottoms out on Moustakas gets a swinging strike 3.
Cheslor Cuthbert – 76 MPH curveball low and inside, ball 1, 97 MPH fastball on the outer-half strike 1, curveball at the corner of the zone is struck well to left but goes foul, strike 2, fastball at 99 misses badly, ball 2, misses again with a fastball, ball 3, fastball tipped, full count, and he throws a change and misses badly walking Cuthbert.
Alcides Escobar – 78 MPH curveball land s at the bottom of the zone, strike 1, 97 MPH fastball on the outside strike 2, 99 MPH on the black, Escobar reaches out and pokes it foul, 97 MPH bullet up high gets a swinging strike 3.
Alex Gordon – 84 MPH changeup gets a swinging strike 1, 85 MPH change to the same spot, swinging strike 2, 98 MPH fastball to the top of the zone is fouled back into Kevan Smith’s mask, 99 MPH high and outside, ball 1, 85 MPH changeup low and inside, ball 2, 85 MPH changeup belt high on the inside gets a swinging strike 3.
Another solid frame from Lopez, only one of 8 batters has made contact so far. He’s also induced swinging strikes on all three pitches so far.
Whit Merrifield – Curveball to the outside part of the plate, strike one, 97 MPH low outside the zone, ball 1, 79 MPH curve on the outside, ball 2, 96 MPH in the dirt on the outside, ball 3, 95 MPH on the outside, ball 4.
Lorenzo Cain – Fastball on the outside fouled off, strike 1, 84 MPH change low and inside for a strike, 96 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate is missed for a swinging strike 3.
Eric Hosmer – 82 MPH chaneup over the plate is struck in the air for an easy popup down the third baseline to end the inning.
Another very nice frame for Lopez. Getting Lorenzo Cain to strike out swinging for the second time, and inducing weak contact on the first pitch in bookend at bats.
Melky Cabrera – 95 MPH fastball down the middle taken for strike 1, 80 MPH curveball hit to right field for the first out.
Mike Moustakas – 84 MPH changeup on the outside, ball 1, 84 MPH changeup down the bottom of the zone, strike 1, fastball at 97 on the inside, fouled off strike 2, fastball at 97 too high, ball 2, 85 MPH changeup on the outside, fouled off, 97 MPH high and outside hit foul, 2-2 count, curveball hung belt high on the outside is hit for a homer to right. Lopez loses the no-hitter and the shutout.
Cheslor Cuthbert – fastball at 97 is hit back up the middle. Back to back hits.
Alex Gordon – 94 MPH outside, ball 1, 83 MPH changeup, fouled off, strike 1, 97 MPH way high for ball 2, 82 MPH changeup is hit to center for the second out.
Drew Butera – 77 MPH curveball on the outside for strike 1, 79 MPH breaking ball on the outside black, and just misses for ball 1, fastball fouled off to right field, 81 MPH curveball pops up Butera and Yolmer Sanchez makes the catch along the fencing off the visiting dugout.
Tough inning for Lopez as he yelled three straight hits. Lucky for him the bottom of the Royals order is garbage and couldn’t capitalize with two runners on. Fastball velo dropped a tick, and he hung a few curveballs even outside the Moustakas homer.
Whit Merrifield – 94 MPH on the outer-half slapped foul, strike 1, 77 MPH curveball on the upper outside corner, strike 2, a fastball outside ball 1, changeup to the outside fouled off, curveball hung on the inside is pulled foul, 80 MPH curveball drops in on Whitfield and he takes for ball 2, another changeup this time on the bottom of the zone is hit to center, and Adam Engel makes a great diving stab for the first out.
Lorenzo Cain – 94 MPH on the outside, ball 1, 94 MPH in the dirt, ball 2, 84 MPH changeup on the bottom of the zone swinging strike 1, fastball on the outside popped up foul to the first base side, and Abreu makes the catch for the second out.
Eric Hosmer – 96 MPH lower outside part of the plate, strike 1, 81 MPH curveball low and inside, fouled off, strike 2, 86 MPH changeup way outside, ball 1, 98 MPH to the outer-half fouled off, 1-2 count, 96 MPH fastball hit into the shift, Anderson bobbles, but throws to first in enough time for the out.
A nice rebound inning after the 4th as he works 1-2-3 to the middle of the order. Lorenzo Cain looks completely lost vs Lopez.
Melky Cabrera – 81 MPH curveball to outside ball 1, fastball low in the zone just misses for ball 2, 92 MPH screamer down the line is snagged by Abreu. He just saved a double.
Mike Moustakas – 81 MPH curve high and outside, ball 1, 83 MPH changeup on the bottom of the zone, ball 2, 94 MPH on the outer-half, strike 1, a changeup is hit a long way foul, strike 2, fastball in on the hands hit foul, and Lopez breaks a third bat today, 83 MPH changeup is left high, and it is hit a long way to left center for another homer. His second of the game vs Lopez.
Cheslor Cuthbert – 78 MPH curve ball way high, ball 1, 93 MPH fastball at the top of the zone fouled off, strike 1, 95 MPH fastball high in the zone, swinging strike 2, 80 MPH changeup hit for a dribbler to second for the second out.
Alcides Escobar – 94 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 1, 95 MPH fastball is hit to right.
That’s it for Lopez. If only he could fool Mike Moustakas!
Pitching Line: 6 IP, 4 Hits, 3 Walks, 2 Runs, 2 Home Runs, 6 K’s, 10 Swinging Strikes
Summary: I have to say, I’ve come away impressed, particularly as someone who’s watched a few of his AAA starts (Being teammates with Yoan Moncada will do that). He looked like he and Kevan Smith really did their homework. They attacked each batter with a unique approach doing a good job of not being reliant on the change or the curve. Had a tendency to hang the breaking pitch here, and there. Both of his secondaries are hittable, the fastball on the other hand is as good as they come. His fastball command and control for a pitch with that sort of velocity was very good. I’d expect Lopez to not be all that dissimilar from 2017 Charlie Morton in 2018. Down the stretch here, we’ll have to see, but a strong run of starts to end the season is possible.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto)
Disabled List (Ranking When Active): Clayton Kershaw, LAD (3), James Paxton, SEA (5), Noah Syndergaard, NYM (8), Stephen Strasburg, WAS (9), Robbie Ray, ARI (12), Lance McCullers, HOU (16), David Price, BOS (24), Johnny Cueto, SF (28), Chase Anderson, MIL (29), Michael Fulmer, DET (34), Masahiro Tanaka, NYY (35), Brandon McCarthy, LAD (42), Felix Hernandez, SEA (54), Aaron Sanchez, TOR (66) Matt Andriese, TB (68), Jake Odorizzi, TB (69), Kyle Freeland, COL (76), Scott Feldman, CIN (84), Matt Harvey, NYM (99) Brandon Finnegan, CIN (100)