Baseball

BOX SCORES

White Sox 3 – Angels 4

White Sox 12 – Angels 8

White Sox 3 – Angels 5

White Sox 4 – Angels 7

 

Well that was not the start we all envisioned, was it?

For a team that touts bullpen strength as one of it’s weapons, the White Sox didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory in that department. The Sox very easily could have (and probably should have) walked out of Anaheim with 3 wins, but instead now have 3 losses to start the season. Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall are the two prime suspects here, both blowing leads in the 8th inning in games 1 and 3 respectively. They were aided and abetted by some atrocious defense by the Sox and an inability to capitalize on runners in scoring position. To add insult to (more) injury, Tim Anderson came up lame in the 1st inning, attempting to run out a ground ball in his first at bat Sunday night. He shouldn’t miss too much time, but for a team that’s depth is already paper thin this is asking quite a lot.

TO THE BULLETS:

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-As mentioned above, Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall had a rough weekend. It was pretty clear from the jump that neither guy had their premium stuff. While Bummer was the victim of a boneheaded throw by Nick Madrigal in the 8th inning in game 1, he still had a chance to get out of the jam and ended up walking Justin Upton to set up the dagger by Pujols. Marshall didn’t fare any better in game 3, He managed to strike out Mike Trout, but then gave up a single to Rendon and a triple to Jared Walsh, then hung a cookie to Justin Upton who deposited it into the left field seats. *Fart Noise*

-All was not terrible with the bullpen, however. Both Michael Kopech and Garret Crochet were fucking nails in their appearances. They each went 2 innings in their respective games, striking out 3 per and keeping the Angels off the board when Keuchel and Lynn couldn’t make it out of the 5th inning. Kopech and Crochet are awesome weapons to have out of the pen, but if Cease and Rodon can’t cut it they may be needed in the rotation before too long.

-Speaking of Dallas Keuchel, I realize that he didn’t have a full spring training to get into game shape, but him constantly missing upstairs with his stuff is concerning to say the least. It begs the question as to whether his numbers last year were the true him or just the benefit of feasting on shitty central division lineups. It certainly bears watching.

-The defense has been absolutely atrocious to start the season. Through the first 4 games the Sox have allowed 7 unearned runs out of the 24 that were scored against them, the ones in the outfield being the most egregious. In game two, Matt Foster came in to get Keuchel out of the jam he created. He got Ohtani and Trout to both strike out, and managed to get Rendon to hit a catchable fly ball out to right. Eaton came running over and just flat out missed the ball. Game 3 featured Luis Robert running in to call off Tim Anderson on a high pop behind 2nd. The fly ball glanced off his mitt, then off his forehead, allowing two runs to score. Eaton then proceeded to use his pool noodle arm to throw the ball off the pitchers mound. All around Benny Hill-level shit.

-For the most part, LaRussa’s first series back in a Sox uniform went pretty well until the 9th inning of game 4. With everything tied up after the Sox clawed their way back to knot the game up at 4, instead of turning to a rested Liam Hendriks in a high leverage situation he opted for Jose Ruiz who allowed the winning run to get on base. He then turned to Matt Foster who served up a 3 run bomb to Jared Walsh. Foster was great in game 2, but situations like this is why the Sox supposedly went out and paid the money they did for Hendriks.

-Dylan Cease picked up where he left off last season, throwing waaaaay too many pitches, very few of which were in the strike zone. He worked out of a few jams, but what the Sox really needed from him was innings. Throwing 52 pitches through the first two isn’t going to give the bullpen any relief, especially since Lynn and Keuchel couldn’t make it out of the 5th inning. I really wanted to believe that him and Ethan Katz had fixed his control issues, but the results thus far are not encouraging.

-Congrats to Yermin Mercedes for living his dream and making history by going 8-8 to start his major league career and being the first of what is hopefully many feel good stories of this MLB season. Love to see the happiness on that guy’s face.

– 1 and 3 is not how any of us pictured the Sox to start the season, and I totally get the frustration but big picture: even with everything that went wrong in this series the Sox still had chances to win every game. They weren’t getting their doors blown off, and the issues (with the exception of Tim Anderson’s hammy) are all correctable. Which leads us to:

 

Series Preview: White Sox at Mariners – Yarrr, I Don’t Know What I’m Doin

 

VS

 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Carlos Rodon (0-2, 8.22 ERA) vs. Justus Sheffield (4-3, 3.58 ERA)

Game 2: Lucas Giolito (0-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. James Paxton (1-1, 6.64 ERA)

Game 3: Dallas Keuchel (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. Justin Dunn (4-1, 4.34 ERA)

 

After the shenanigans in Anaheim concluded, the Sox travel up the coast to the birthplace of Grunge and Starbucks to take on the Mariners. The M’s, fresh off a series win against the Giants, are smack in the middle of what may turn out to be a sped up rebuilding phase. Having completely turned over their roster over the past 3 years, sending everything that wasn’t nailed down to either the Mets or the Yankees, the Mariners are chock full of young talent that can only be described as “fun.”

Taking the bump in game one for the M’s is the son of Gary Sheffield, and once prized prospect of the Yankees, Justus Sheffield. The Mariners acquired Sheff from New York in a deal (much like the Sox with the Nationals and Lucas Giolito) where they sent James Paxton out East in return for him and a few other prospects that haven’t made it to the major league level yet. Sheffield toiled in the M’s system for a season before making the rotation in 2020 after a brief callup in September of 2019. He quickly made his impact, going 4-3 with a 3.5 ERA, and was 4th among all qualified rookie starters with 1.6 WAR in the shortened season.

Game two features Gio’s second start, and Paxton’s first as he was skipped in the rotation to give him extra rest. The Yankees didn’t really get the value out of Paxton that they were hoping to when they made that trade in 2018. He had a solid 2019, going 15-6 with a 3.86 ERA for the Yanks, but cratered in 2020 only starting 5 games and ending with a 6.68 ERA before he went under the knife for a flexor injury in his elbow. The M’s brought him back this season on a one year “prove it” deal for $8.5 million that could be worth up to $10 if he hits certain bonuses.

Justin Dunn, the former 1st round pick of the Mets in 2018 was acquired in the deal that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to NYC. Dunn, a former closer in college, was converted to a starter by the Mariners in 2019. He’s got a decend 4 seam fastball, and two quality breaking pitches in his curve and slider. For a kid who had only been a starter for less than a year, he performed pretty admirably in 2020. He doesn’t strike many people out, with a 7.4 K/9 average to go with a high 6.1 BB/9, so he can be gotten to if the Sox offense can wait him out.

Offensively for the M’s, last year’s ROY Kyle Lewis is still out with a knee injury, so that’s a bonus. The rest of the squad outside of the returning Mitch Haniger is still fairly unproven, though there is a lot of upside there. Dylan Moore is a Leury Garcia-type who plays all the diamond but hits for more power. Evan White is the M’s version of Andrew Vaughn, a 1B/DH type with very good power but not the eye of AV. Kyle Seager is still here, toiling away in the shadow of his more talented sibling down in LA.

Realistically if the Sox starters can keep the ball in the park and not walk anyone they should have a good chance at winning at least 2 of 3. I’m very curious about the return of Hard Carl tonight against Paxton. Hoping he has better results in his first start than his fellow Ethan Katz protégée Dylan Cease did last night.

The starters need to eat some innings this series after the bullpen threw a combined 14.2 in 4 games. They desperately need a break, and with no off day until Friday, it’s up to Gio and Keuchel to give them one. Offensively, going up against two lefties this series should theoretically work in the Sox favor. Moncada and Grandal need to pick up some of the slack that losing Tim and Eloy caused. Now would be a good time for Andrew Vaughn to break out as well.

Let’s Go Sox.

 

 

*Credit for the glorious Ghost Eloy pic goes to @RightSox. Follow him for more hilarity.

Baseball

Now we come to the bundle of pitchers who were asked to work far more and far harder then they probably should have due to the Black Hole of Sadness that was the #5 starter for the White Sox this season. In reality, the Sox should have sucked it up and used an opener for the 5th spot and it took them all the way until September after Carlos Rodon and Lucas Giolito had been shelved for the season. Yet they’ll tell you the front office is always at the forefront of new stats and ideas in MLB.

At any rate, the Sox bullpen over all was pretty solid all things considered. They ranked 15th out of 30 in the entirety of MLB, and were worth 2.7 WAR total. This is a drop from 2018 when they were 8th best in the league with 5.2 WAR, but some of that can be attributed to the 45 extra innings they were forced to throw this season.

There were a few breakouts in the pen this year, most notably Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall. Both took large steps forward in both their individual performance and solidifying the future of the Sox bullpen overall. Also Carson Fulmer was here.

Much like the rest of the Sox position players, I’m going to pick and choose who we discuss here mostly because nobody wants to read 15,000 words about the Sox bullpen which is what this would turn into if I did a rundown of each person who pitched out of the pen this season (AJ Reed would be here too, and that ain’t happenin).

THE BULLPEN

Alex Colome

4-5 Record/30 Saves/3 BS

2.80 ERA/1.06 WHIP/67.6% Strand Rate

55K/25BB/7 HR

0.6 WAR/4.08 FIP

Tell Me A Story: When Rick Hahn shipped Omar Narvaez to Seattle in exchange for Colome back in November, my eyebrows raised up a little bit. The Sox were definitely in need of a closer after sending Joakim Soria to the Brewers at the trade deadline in 2018 and Colome certainly fit the bill. With an additional 2 years of team control remaining, and a few catching prospects in the minors in addition to Wellington Castillo it seemed to be one of those trades that fit perfectly for both teams.

Colome rewarded the Sox for the trade by not blowing his first save until June 26th against the Red Sox, a game he eventually got a win for when the Sox came back in the 10th inning. He was nothing if not consistent, throwing his cut fastball 70% of the time regardless of hitter handedness. When it was on, it spun away from righties, and burned into the hands of lefties alike. He didn’t get a lot of strikeouts, averaging less than 1 per inning, but he induced a lot of weak contact and ground balls. With a 4.08 FIP and a 67.6% strand rate it would seem that Colome is living on the edge of falling apart completely, and while some of us were expecting it, the explosion never truly came.

Contract: Colome is in his final year of arbitration in 2020, and is projected to come in at about $10.3 million.

Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: It seems this will be a welcome back for Colome, as the Sox had a few chances to move him at the deadline to a contender and chose instead to stand pat. There is a possibility he’s moved during the winter meetings, but I don’t see the market for closers being anything different in December than it was in July. $10 million is a pretty high price for a closer who’s peripherals say he’s close to imploding, but with not much other than Kelvin Herrera with experience shutting down games the Sox are probably gonna ride it out with Colome.

 

Aaron Bummer

0-0 Record/1 Save

2.13 ERA/0.99 WHIP/82.3% Strand Rate

60K/20BB/4 HR

1.3 WAR/3.14 FIP

Tell Me A Story: Here we come to the first success story out of the Sox bullpen, Aaron Bummer. This was his 3rd year with the big club since being drafted by the Sox in 2014 after holding out on the Yankees by returning to college. Bummer seemed to be a known quantity in his first two seasons, posting 4.5ish ERAs with similar walk and strikeout numbers. He started the season down in Charlotte and didn’t see his first action until the end of April. He never looked back, as he posted career high numbers in innings pitched and strikeouts.

He also became the most reliable lefty out of the Sox bullpen since Matt Thornton departed for the greener pastures of Boston. Lefties only hit .178 against him, and righties didn’t fare much better at .188. He credited his success this season to an increase in velocity of about 2 mph. This extra heat has helped his fastball move a little more, and added some drop on his cutter. He also ditched throwing the slider, only tossing it 6.6% of the time in 2019 down from 37% in 2016.

The last month of the season was the least successful for him, but it’s understandable as he almost doubled the innings he threw from 2018 so some of that can be attributed to wear and tear. Despite the rough September, this season is nothing short of a success for Bummer, and the Sox may have found themselves another piece of The Future™

Contract: Bummer earned $550,000 last season and is under team control until 2025. He doesn’t hit arbitration until 2022.

Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: There was some scattered talk about the Sox selling high on Bummer and moving him at the trade deadline, but that seemed more like wishful thinking from opposing GMs than actual heat. Bummer’s career year in 2019 has earned him a high leverage spot out of the pen to start 2020 and I expect him to stay there for awhile.

 

Evan Marshall

4-2 Record

2.49 ERA/1.30 WHIP/84.8% Strand Rate

41K/24BB/5 HR

0.5 WAR/4.30 FIP

Tell Me A Story: Evan Marshall had a very solid year out of the bullpen for the White Sox this year, giving up 14 earned runs in 50.2 innings. While not quite the innings eater that Aaron Bummer was (or nearly as flashy), Marshall was there in a pinch, and with an almost 85% strand rate he ended up being the righty go-to guy that Kelvin Herrera was acquired to be.

Marshall’s 4.30 FIP somewhat suggests that his stats this season were somewhat due to batted ball luck, and his 2.66 BABIP lends a lot of credence to that. The 1.30 WHIP is a little up there for a high leverage reliever, but certainly not to the point where the Sox would be looking to cut bait on him.

Contract: Marshall will enter his first year of arbitration with the Sox in 2020, and he’s projected to earn $1.3 million.

Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: Marshall has certainly earned himself another shot at middle relief in 2020 with his performance this season. That being said, Kelvin Herrera looked pretty good down the stretch and there are a bunch of prospects in AAA with hotter arms than Marshall so he doesn’t exactly have a firm grip on the 7th or 8th inning job. What he does have going for him is a cheap, team-controlled contract so he’s going to be given every opportunity to succeed in 2002.

 

Kelvin Herrera

3-3 Record/1 Save

6.14 ERA/1.61 WHIP/65.9% Strand Rate

53K/23BB/8HR

0.4 WAR/4.58 FIP

Tell Me A Story: Kelvin Herrera was signed in the off-season to a 2 year, $17 million dollar deal by the White Sox. This was seen as the atypical “buy-low” type of move for Rick Hahn, as he was getting a former closer with 3 very good years of production on a shitty KC team who happened to have an issue with the lisfranc ligament in his left foot. This kept his activity in the off-season at the same level as MY off-season activity, namely drinking beer and reading comic books. When the season started up, Herrera was noticeably favoring his foot in his delivery though he said that the foot itself felt “fine” it very clearly was not.

During his best years with KC, Herrera was known for pinpoint control with very high velocity locking down the 9th inning. Through the month of June he was anything but that, logging a 7.63 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP with batters hitting .368 against him.With the lisfranc injury still fucking with his delivery, it was no surpirse when he hit the IL in the middle of July with an oblique strain as pitchers who overcompensate for an injury usually create another one.

The time off did him well apparently, as when he returned from the strain in August he hit the ground running. The entire month of August Herrera only gave up 5 ER and all of those came in a single blowup against the stupid ass Twins. If you take that game out of the equation he finished the season with a 1.76 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP with an 11.9 K/9. That’s more like what Rick Hahn was looking for when he signed Herrera to the deal which initially looked like a horrible overpay.

Contract: Herrera signed a 2 year deal at $8.5 million per, with a team option for $10 million in 2022 with a $1 million dollar buyout.

Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: Not much choice here but to welcome him back and hope that the version of Herrera that showed up after the IL stint is the one the Sox get for the duration of the contract. If so, the 8.5 million will be very worth the price even to the point of potentially picking up his $10 million option in 2022 if Colome stumbles and Herrera charges in. If he doesn’t look like that, then expect him to spend a lot of time in the bullpen playing candy crush on his phone.

 

Jimmy Cordero

1-1 Record

2.89 ERA/0.97 WHIP/79.9% Strand Rate

31 K/11 BB/3 HR

0.4 WAR/3.78 FIP

Tell Me A Story: After Carlos Rodon’s elbow vaporized like the Death Star in June the Sox found themselves with an extra spot on the 40-man roster and a need for pitching. Enter: Jimmy Cordero, fresh of his release by the Seattle Mariners. Rick Hahn scooped him up and sent him to Charlotte to get some work in with the Sox minor league pitching coaches. He responded well, pitching 16 innings and giving up one measly run. Considering the fact that balls were leaving the yard in Charlotte like Twins fans avoiding a shower that’s no mean feat.

He was called up to the big club in July after Kelvin Herrera went on the IL with an oblique strain and picked up right where he left off in Charlotte. He ended the season with a 2.89 ERA and a sub 1 WHIP. His 79.9% strand rate was 3rd best on the team, and he pitched 38 innings in 2 months showing that Ricky Renteria had no issue throwing him out there whatever the situation. Not too shabby for a guy on his 3rd major league team in less than 6 months.

Contract: Cordero is still under team control through 2024 and he’s not arbitration eligible until 2022, He’ll make $550,000 next season.

Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: Based on what we saw during his limited audition this season combined with the fact that he makes the league minimum makes me think Cordero is going to receive every chance to make the team outta spring training. The kid definitely pitched like he had a chip on his shoulder, and you can do a lot worse in MLB with $550,000.

Josh Osich and Jace Fry

Tell Me A Story: Osich and Fry were basically two sides of the same coin for Ricky Renteria this season. Two left handed pitchers with pretty electric stuff but not nearly enough control and too many damn walks. They ate a lot of innings this season thanks to the #5 starter being made of straw and edible paste, but their WHIP and ERA left something to be desired.

Contract: Osich is arbitration eligible this season and estimated to make $1 million. Fry is still under team control and will make the league minimum.

Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: Fry will be back next season if the Sox don’t sign any relief depth in the off-season (which better not fucking happen), so odds are he’s back in Charlotte. Osich will most likely be let go

 

THE REST

The rest of the Sox bullpen was filled with “some guys” that should not be back on the major league roster next season unless things go horribly wrong. The exception to this might be Ryan Burr, as his stuff is pretty impressive if he can keep it under control. He’s also very, very cheap which we all know is how Jerry Reinsdorf loves his pitchers.

 

 

Well, that’s about it for me this season. I’ve really enjoyed covering this team in what was an exciting but ultimately disappointing season. That being said, the future is very bright and I hope to see you all back here soon as we discuss the myriad (hopefully) of signings Rick Hahn has made during the winter meetings. Thanks again to Sam for giving me a shot here in the baseball universe, it was a fucking blast.

 

Cheers all,

 

AJ

 

 

 

Baseball

A week out from baseball’s one deadline to end them all, and the White Sox are in a different position than they have been. Last year and the year before, it was about shedding anything that wasn’t nailed down, and there was barely anything permanent on the roster. Though Rick Hahn has made his major moves in the offseason, he has cashed in on Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, Melky Cabrera, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, and Xavier Cedeno in the middle of a season the past two years. The level of activity figures to be less this time around.

Most of the focus will be on the Sox bullpen, where Alex Colome, Aaron Bummer, and Jace Fry are all candidates to be dealt. The Sox have made noise about keeping any or all three, especially Colome, who has another year of arbitration left and figures to be affordable no matter what he gets through that route in the winter.

Still, the bounty on Colome and Bummer could be higher than normal, simply because of Will Smith. Only one team is going to get him out of the plethora (up to 12, reportedly), seeking him. Which means a bunch of teams are going to be desperate to keep up with the Joneses and get their own pitcher who has succeeded in the late innings this year. Bummer has the added bonus of being left-handed, which like every year is found gold (See you tomorrow, Mr. Pocket!). A team watching Smith go to a direct competitor might convince itself of the absolute must-have Bummer is after that.

The Sox will tell you that they can be competitive as soon as next year, assuming something close to full health from Jimenez, Moncada, Anderson, Robert, Abreu, and McCann in the lineup and the rotation manages to somehow stay in one piece (all of this together seems like huge ask at the moment, but that’s life). And along with that, they’ll need someone to preserve leads and ties in 8th and 9th innings, and Bummer and Colome have already proven they can do that. The devil you know and all that.

Seems a little shortsighted. One, relievers can be found just about anywhere, or crafted from anywhere (and I personally believe Carlos Rodon‘s future is that of a Southside Josh Hader, a multi-inning relief weapon, but let’s have that discussion another time that ends with Fifth Feather beating me over the head with his shoes). If Bummer and Colome can bring back multiple pieces, even just lottery tickets, you’d have to think long and hard about that. There are maybe a handful of relievers worth getting attached to in baseball. Neither of those guys is one of them.

And considering the arms race the AL has become, there is no such thing as too much depth. The Astros won over 100 games last year and still added Yordan Alvarez through their system this term. And there are more they could. The Yankees have like 12 hitters. The Dodgers add another mutant or two every year. You needn’t look any farther than the other side of town to see how you can fall behind when your system stops producing, or is stripped, or both for just a season or two. So the Sox may think they’ll be all set in a year’s or two’s time when Robert and Madrigal join the ones who are already here, but you still have to keep going if you want to compete with the aristocracy in baseball.

If Colome and Bummer do that, you probably have to pull the trigger on it. There’s always more where that came from.