Game 2: RAINED OUT
This shit continues to happen. The Sox bring the heat in the first half of a series against an opponent and are completely unable to close it out in the finale. The bullpen is responsible yet again, as Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks combined to cost the Sox after Adam fucking Eaton was able to bring the team ahead 3-2 with a pinch hit dinger in the bottom of the 8th.
It’s extra frustrating because the team looked so damn good in the home opener on Thursday, with Lance Lynn giving the bullpen the rest it so desperately needed by going the full 9. Yet all the good feelings from that game were washed away with a 4-seamer that caught way too much of the zone to Carlos Santana from the Sox lone big off-season acquisition. He didn’t miss, and the Sox end with a 1-1 split in the rain-shortened series.
I’m pretty sure that Bummer, Marshall and Hendriks aren’t going to be this bad the whole year. I’m pretty sure the Sox aren’t going to be dead last in the league in defense the whole year. I’m absolutely certain the team isn’t going to hit .255 for the rest of the season, and Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada are going to stay below the Mendoza line. All that said, those three things are costing the team games right now, and I’m just hoping those aren’t wins that they’ll desperately need come September.
TO THE BULLETS:
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
-Right off the bat, just gotta say that Lance Lynn is one beefy, badass motherfucker. There was not a single point in that game on Thursday night where he didn’t seem completely in control. It certainly helped that the D behind him wasn’t actively trying to sabotage his start, but he was still nails. Scattering 5 hits and no walks over 9 innings with 11 strikeouts is pretty majestic, especially against a team that was averaging over 6 runs per game coming into Thursday night. More please.
-The flip side of that coin is that Dylan Cease still throws too many fucking pitches, and watching his starts feels like waiting for continental drift to take effect. He rarely has any trouble getting ahead in the counts, but once he gets to 2 strikes the nibbling begins. Throw in a few fouled off pitches, and suddenly he’s at 82 in the 4th fucking inning. Cease better tighten it up soon, because…
-Michael Kopech seems nigh unhittable right now. Through 6.1 innings he’s struck out 11, walked 2 and allowed 1 measly hit. Out of the 21 batters he’s faced, only 8 of them have been able to put the bat on the ball. If Cease still can’t give the team quality innings by the time the calendar flips to May, LaRussa could have the decision made for him to move Kopech into the rotation. Bare minimum he may have to think outside the box and go with 6 starters.
-Sure was fun watching Brad Keller and his stupid face get rocked again. Love to see it.
-While Yoan Moncada got his first dinger of the year with a beautiful opposite field jack in the first game, that was the extent of his offensive output for the series. His slash line is now at a very ugly .161/.297/.587. I’m not personally worried about him yet, as he was smoking the ball in spring training but this bears watching.
-Yermin Mercedes has an OPS of 1.451. Send Tweet.
-Once again, TLR’s Sunday lineup leaves a ton to be desired. There was no reason that Grandal’s bat could not have been in the lineup today. Giving playing time to Zack Collins is admirable, but not at the expense of getting one of your best weapons going offensively. On the plus side, despite the shitty outcome, his bullpen usage was much better. Let’s hope that continues into the next series with…
SERIES PREVIEW: Cleveland @ Sox – Divisional Damage
Records: Cleveland 5-3 / White Sox 4-5
First Pitch: Mon/Tues/Wed 7:10 Thurs 1:10
We’re Not Detroit: Covering The Corner
With the arrival of Cleveland into town tonight, the Sox head into their second divisional opponent of the season sitting on a 4-5 record. The Cleveland Baseball Team currently sits atop the division with a 5-3 record, fresh off a three game sweep of the Tigers at home. Things started out for the ex-tribe about as poorly as they did for the Sox, with Cleveland dropping 3 of their first 4 games, one of which happened with a Miguel Cabrera walk-off dinger in the middle of a blizzard. Since that first series, however, they’ve put it together offensively, scoring 24 runs in their last 4 games.
The Cleveland offense, while not looking like much on paper with the departure of All Universe shortstop Francisco Lindor, still has one of the best hitters in baseball in Jose Ramirez. After a weird down year in 2019 that saw his HR total cut almost in half, his slugging percentage crater to .800, Ramirez got back to his old ways in 2020. He rocked 17 dingers last season, which was only 6 less than he hit in the entirety of 2019, and his OPS came roaring back to .906 which is more the norm for him. Oddly enough, his K% rate was actually the highest of his career, just under 17% (he had averaged 11% up till that point, even in his down year), though some of that could be due to the sample size of the shortened season. He’s picked up where he left off last year, hitting .300 thus far with a pair of HR.
Replacing Lindor is one of the more unenviable tasks out there, and unfortunately for Amed Rosario that duty has fallen squarely in his lap. As part of the return the Mets sent westward for Lindor, Rosario was a former top prospect of the Mets, signed as an international free agent in 2012 out of the DR. He worked his way up through the system, finally making his debut in a September callup in 2016. He was full time with the team in 2017, but didn’t really hit his stride until 2019 where he slashed .287/.323/.755 with 15 HR and 19 SB. He’s a below average fielder, with his best DRS score of -3 coming in 2019. He’s obviously not going to be able to fill the cleats left behind by Lindor, but he’s more than serviceable at SS.
The main story for Cleveland (as it’s always been) is it’s pitching staff, and this year is really no different despite some new names in the rotation. The Sox got a taste of Monday night’s starter Triston McKenzie late last season after they had moved him into the bullpen to save his arm. His fastball is his primary weapon, and his lanky delivery is reminiscent of Garrett Crochet and Chris Sale. He also throws 3 off speed pitches (SL/CB/CH), with the slider being his preferred punch out pitch, but he likes to live upstairs with his fastball.
Night two features the Battle of the Aces, with Shane Bieber facing off against Lucas Giolito. Neither guy has gotten off to the kind of start we’d all come to expect out of them, but the underlying metrics all say that the stuff is fine. The Sox actually have fared fairly well against Bieber the past 2 seasons, going 2-1 against him in 5 starts, scoring 19 runs in that span. Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu both apparently enjoy facing off against him, as they’ve hit a combined 5 HR off him and are both hitting over .310.
As for the Sox, we get to see if Rodon’s first start really was the beginning of a turnaround or just a blip against a sub-par Mariners lineup. Dallas Keuchel also gets his 3rd chance to get out of the 5th inning, and show us all that last year was not just him feasting on a crappy central division.
More importantly, the Sox need to stop stranding runners on base. Especially facing a Cleveland bullpen that typically just doesn’t give much away. The ex-Tribe had the Sox number completely last year, including that disastrous sweep in September that almost ended the Sox playoff hopes. If there was ever a time for the team to put it all together, this is the series for it. Cleveland, while depleted on offense, is still a dangerous team, if only for their ridiculous ability to pull pitchers out of their farm system and turn them into plus plus contributors pretty much at will. There’s enough pop in that lineup to give them the lead, and that’s something their bullpen doesn’t give away. Score early, and score often.
Let’s Go Sox