Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 3 – Tigers 4

Game 2: White Sox 3 – Tigers 5

Game 3: PPD (RAIN)

 

As the Sox continue their inevitable slide towards the postseason, the consternation and fears of a fanbase that has watched a lifeless team slog it’s way through the 2nd half of the season has reached a crescendo. Game one of this series saw the Sox jump out to a 3-0 lead, then promptly ball their hands up into a fist and punch themselves collectively in the dick with some terrible-ass fielding and less than stellar relieving from Kimbrel. Game 2 had the Sox strand 17 runners on the diamond, and Jace Fry doing Jace Fry things.

In reality, this series is basically the Sox 2nd half in a nutshell. Ample opportunities to break the game open but runners stranded on base due to a lack of timely hitting. Starting pitching that was unable to make it past the 5th inning, putting undue strain on a pretty taxed bullpen. Defense that is eye-bleedingly bad, putting more on the shoulders of said pitching staff. TLR playing get away lineups every day. It just hasn’t been great.

Despite the above, the Sox are all but guaranteed to be in the postseason thanks to the complete disinterest of the Cleveland Guardians during the same time frame. This lack of urgency to be competitive in these games is understandable, simply due to the avalanche of injuries that have come the Sox way that were the result of hustling down the line or in the outfield. Maintenence has become the most important thing for Tony LaRussa, and understandably so. With only 12 games remaining however, it might be time for him to roll with the big guns the rest of the way to remind everyone how things were done on the South Side in the first half of the year.

 

To The Bullets!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

GAME 1

-The biggest concern out of this game is the health of Carlos Rodon. From the 2nd inning onward, it was pretty apparent that there was something going on with his arm, as he was topping out at 92-93 MPH on his 4-seamer, and by the 3rd inning he couldn’t break 90. TLR said after the game that there was concern about his shoulder and it was unlikely he would pitch again before the last series of the season. Yikes.

-This was not a great night for trade deadline acquisitions. Caesar Hernandez forgot how tagging runners with the ball works in the bottom of the 3rd inning, allowing the Tigers to tie the game. Then Craig Kimbrel (who was cruising up to this point) plunked Robbie Grossman on the shoe top in the 8th with the game tied. Grossman promptly stole 2nd, then scored as Kimbrel semi-hung a 2-2 knuckle curve to Harold Castro (who last took a walk during the Obama Administration) where he laced it into right field. Game over.

-The Sox had a chance to blow this open in the top of the 3rd, loading the bases with nobody out. They ended up getting 3 out of the inning, but only 1 of those was knocked in by an actual hit. The other two were an RBI ground out by Yoan (who deserves credit for blazing down the line and breaking up the DP), and a sac fly by Grandal. The woes of the offense leaving people stranded continue.

– The trio of Jose Ruiz, Garrett Crochet, and Ryan Burr deserve a lot of credit for keeping the Sox in the game after Rodon left after the 3rd inning. Only Ruiz allowed a baserunner, and the trio had 5 Ks between them. Good shit.

GAME 2

-Dallas Keuchel had his 2nd straight decent start, going 5 innings and allowing 2 runs. The 11 hits and 1 walk in those 5 innings is where potentially having to start him in the postseason becomes very itchy. Anyone with a 2+ WHIP shouldn’t be pitching in a playoff game, let alone starting one. If Rodon can’t answer the bell, the Sox should be going Lynn/Gio/Cease/and a Kopech and Lopez combo if the need arises.

-Eloy is scuffling right now in the worst way. He singlehandedly left 6 runners on base, and grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the top of the 3rd, killing all the momentum dead. There’s still time for the Big Baby to turn it around, but it just doesn’t look like he’s having much fun right now.

-Timmy got his average back above .300 in the game with a pair of hits (one of which was of the extra base variety), and is starting to look like himself again (especially with sweet off balance throw home in the 6th to nab Victor Reyes after air mailing a throw earlier in the inning).

-Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal might be the only Sox hitters approaching the peak of their powers right now, as they’re both clearly dialed in.

-Yeah, Jace Fry sucked. He’s not gonna be on the postseason roster, however. So I’m not too burned up about it.

-Liam Hendriks is a delight.

 

With the Magic Number currently sitting at 2 for the Sox, it’s only natural that their opponents this weekend will be the Cleveland Guardians. A chance for the Sox to clinch the division on the field at The Jake should be motivation enough for them to sweep the double header on Thursday and beer it up in front of the Cleveland faithful. LaRussa has yet to announce the pitching lineup for the weekend, but Lance Lynn would be going on normal rest Thursday with most likely an opener for game 2. Maybe Kopech? I’d love to see it.

The Sox need to get the clinching out of the way, so perhaps they can unclench and get back to playing fun (watchable) baseball. This team hasn’t been at “Full Strength” all season, and I really wanna see the offense turn into the Death Star we all know it can be. Take Cleveland out behind the barn, end their misery, then celebrate and forget about how shitty they’ve been playing. Relax and just have fun the rest of the way, and bring us all along for the ride.

Let’s Go Sox.

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Astros 7 – White Sox 1

Game 2: Astros 1 – White Sox 10

Game 3: Astros 0 – White Sox 4

 

Much better.

It’s pretty amazing how good the Sox record is when they hit 2+ home runs in a game. After this weekend they’re now 21-2 with multiple long balls in a single setting, and yet the team overall is 23rd in the league in that category with a measly 99 dingers. I don’t quite know as a hitting coach how you can preach hitting the long ball more, but maybe it’s something they should…look into? Or maybe not, since the team is 3rd in the league in overall offensive WAR. Whatever, just keep winning.

By taking 2 of 3 over the weekend, the Sox salvage what could’ve been a complete disaster of a season series against the cast of Stomp. Things looked pretty bleak Friday evening, as it was more of the same against the Astros with Dylan Cease pitching pretty well, but the offense completely shut down by Lance McCullers. Throw in some seriously boneheaded defense by Leury Garcia, and it sure did feel like the Sox were gonna lose all 7 games.

BUT!

The Sox bats came alive the next night, and Lucas Giolito did his best Gandalf impersonation by tossing a complete game 1-run win.

Carlos Rodon picked up the sword and staff on Sunday and did the same, slaying the Balrog of Mordor (Texas) in 7 solid innings of 1 hit ball. Nothing but praise for the performance of the team Saturday and Sunday, and a great start to the back end of the season. Oh, and the Sox extended Our Beefy Boy Lance Lynn by 2 years with a team option on a 3rd. WOOT.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

GAME 1

-Dylan Cease deserved a better fate than what he ended up with on Friday night, but sometimes that’s how the glorious game of baseball treats you. I’ll take 5 2/3rds of 10K ball against one of the best offenses in the league 10 out of 10 times, and even the 3 runs he gave up were aided and abetted by Leury Garcia. Keep getting this kind of production from him and the rotation is looking even more dangerous than it did in the 1st half.

-Things actually started out pretty awesome in this game, as the Sox were up 1-0 after the first two pitches from McCullers. Timmy smoked a triple into the corner, and was brought home next pitch with a double from Yoan Moncada. Alas, you could’ve turned off the game at that point and not missed anything else as McCullers owned the Sox for the rest of the evening.

-Leury Garcia did not exactly smother himself in glory in this game, failing to cover 2nd base for a force out that could’ve ended the 3rd inning. Later on he cut in front of TA on a grounder, biffing the play and allowing the inning to continue. He also managed to go 0-3 with a strikeout, hammering home the point that an everyday second baseman should be a priority for Rick Hahn in the next few weeks.

-Tough night for Brain Goodwin as well, wearing the Golden Sombrero for the first time this season. He’s still the best move (other than DFA-ing Adam Eaton) that Rick Hahn has made so far this season, and it’s not like anyone else looked great in this game either.

-Not a great first night back for Aaron Bummer, as he was all over the fucking place. Then Jose Ruiz came in to “clean up” the mess, and instead threw a packed baby diaper into a lidless blender. Unless something changes in the next 3 months, there should not be a postseason roster spot for him.

GAME 2

-Lucas Giolito was fantastic in this one, fluctuating between economical and strikeout heavy depending on the situation. His fastball still didn’t have the movement it did last season, but the overall accuracy was back at a premium level. He even threw his curve a few times, which we haven’t seen in awhile. The Astros hitters were completely off balance, and Lucas never let them get a sniff of getting back into the game.

-Almost everybody showed up to hit tonight, and Jake Odorizzi paid the price for it. He didn’t help himself by losing control of the strike zone in the 3rd inning, but by then the damage had already been done with back to back dingers by Zack Collins and Tim Anderson. It only got worse from there for the ‘Stros pitching as Jose Abreu and Gavin Sheets piled on.

-Really the only person who didn’t join in on the hit parade was Andrew Vaughn, but he made great contact all night, and was just barely missing barreling up a few pitches. He’s SOOOO close to exploding all over this league (phrasing).

-Jake Burger hit his first career home run, and it was a BOMB. What an awesome story, and I couldn’t be happier for the guy.

GAME 3

-Carlos Rodon woke up Sunday morning and chose violence. The Astros hitters could not get a bead on what he was throwing, with poor Yordan Alvarez in particular regretting leaving the hotel room in the morning. All told ‘Los struck out 10, averaging 97 on his 4 seamer, topping out at 100.5 in the 6th inning. He now has 14 starts this season with 8 or more K’s, with nobody else (including Pitching Jesus Jake deGrom) having more than 11.

-Oh look, another dinger by TA. The power is showing up now, with 14 total bases on the weekend (1 1B, 1 2B 1 3B 2 HR). His BABIP is now at a hilarious .397 on the season, but if you still think the regression monster is coming for him you haven’t been paying attention. He’s just a special hitter with amazing plate coverage.

-Yoan Moncada went yard from the right side of the plate in the 4th inning, firing a laser beam into the 4th row in LF. Keep elevating that ball, and the damage will only grow.

-If it wasn’t hard enough for the Houston offense to deal with Rodon, the next 2 up for them were Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks to close out the afternoon. Hilarious.

-Awesome catch by Billy Hamilton in the 8th to allow a 1-2-3 inning for Kopech. When it’s crunch time in the playoffs and the Sox need someone to save their bacon in the OF, he’s the guy.

 

Next up is another 4 games against the goddam Twins. I hate them and I’m sick of them. Grind their bones into dust and bury them at the bottom of the AL Central. Fuck Josh Donaldson and his stupid face.

 

Let’s Go Sox!

 

 

 

Baseball

While I know most of these have been pretty positive grades so far (other than Adam Eaton obviously), can you really blame me? This Sox team has been a pleasant surprise from the jump, and when you lead the division by 8 games at the break there’s not too much room for complaining.

So believe me when I say this next group isn’t going to get much in the way of complaints either. The starting pitching staff for the Sox has been far and away the most consistent and effective group of the entire bunch, and are largely responsible for the position the team finds itself in right now.

Really the only thing that could be an issue for the Sox going forward is the same one that everybody is facing: the league cracking down on the use of sticky substances by pitchers. Will it affect the rotation? Has it already? We shall see…

 

LANCE LYNN

Games Started: 16 / 9-3 record

1.99 ERA / 1.04 WHIP / 3.20 FIP

105 K / 31 BB / 3.39 K to BB Ratio

2.5 WAR

When Rick Hahn sent Dane Dunning to the Rangers this past off-season for our Big Beefy Boy, it was the type of move one makes when they have expectations of winning at least the division. The early returns on that deal have been quite promising, as the above number indicate.

Despite missing a few weeks with a strained trapezius muscle, Lynn has been the most consistent pitcher in the Sox rotation. He’s made it to the 5th inning or beyond in 13 of his 16 starts, and only given up more than 3 runs once. He’s also added “slapdick motherfucker” into the lexicon of Sox fans everywhere, and for that we all must be eternally grateful. He’s a bulldog on the mound, which occasionally leads to him throwing too many pitches, but otherwise there’s not really much to complain about here. Lance Lynn has come in and done the job exactly as advertised, and should be extended by the club at their earliest convenience (read: probably never).

GRADE: A

LUCAS GIOLITO

Games Started: 18 / 7-6 record

4.15 ERA / 1.17 WHIP / 3.99 FIP

125 K / 33 BB / 3.79 K to BB Ratio

2.0 WAR

Lucas Giolito has had an up and down year control-wise, as is evidenced by his unusually high ERA. While he has not reverted to the complete pumpkin he was in 2018 (he has the exact same amount of strikeouts right now in half as many games), the long ball has resurfaced as an issue for him. A lot of that comes from Lucas preferring to work up in the strike zone, with him being one of the few pitchers who’s willing to throw the changeup higher in the zone. The issue when you work up in the zone is if you miss your spots, the ball tends to go a LONG way. The way you avoid that when you work up in the zone is your pitches have to have good movement on them, and that’s attained by having a good spin rate (you see where I’m going with this).

The chart above shows the average spin rate for all of his pitches over the 2021 season. While this doesn’t guarantee that he was using some type of substance, it does lead one in that direction. Despite the loss in spin rate, his K% rate has remained pretty steady. Really the only thing to glean from this is pitches that would’ve moved more out of the zone and been more difficult to barrel up for hitters are being hit harder at a higher rate. Giolito’s mechanics are still solid, he’s just going to have to adjust the way he approaches batters now, and he’s already mentioned he wants to use the curveball and slider more than he was. He’ll be fine, there’s just going to be an adjustment period.

Also, fuck Josh Donaldson

GRADE: B

CARLOS RODÓN

Games Started: 15 / 7-3 Record (1 No-Hitter)

2.31 ERA / 0.96 WHIP / 2.35 FIP

130 K / 26 BB / 5.00 K to BB Ratio

3.6 WAR

What started as a depth signing on the cheap turned into what I would call the co-ace of the White Sox starting staff, and it’s impressive as all hell to see. Rick Hahn was panned by many (myself included) when it seemed he was punting again on the 5th starter position this past December by bringing back Rodón and having him battle it out with Reynaldo Lopez for the final spot. What ended up happening is that ‘Los seems to have finally put it all together, mashing that up with being healthy for the first time in years and turned it into an All Star nomination and ultimately some Cy Young votes.

What changed? Obviously being healthy played a huge role, as it allows him to throw the slider much harder than he’s been able to in the past 4 years. The added velocity has caused the pitch to become almost unhittable, as batters have gone from a .250 average against it to a mere .106, and only slugging .133 off it. No solid contact = results. He’s also throwing his fastball more, up from 50% to almost 60%, another instance of the added velocity. All told, it’s turned Carlos into a monster and it’s gonna make him a lot of money in the off-season, hopefully with the White Sox (stares in Jerry Reinsdorf).

GRADE: A+

Dallas Keuchel

Games Started: 17 / 7-3 Record

4.25 ERA / 1.38 WHIP / 4.73 FIP

58 K / 31 BB / 1.87 K to BB Ratio

0.7 WAR

Dallas Keuchel has not had a terrible year, but neither has it been a very effective one. In the past, he was known for keeping the ball down in the zone and creating weak contact with his sinker. This usually allowed him to eat quite a few innings and save the bullpen for other, strike-heavier pitchers. That’s not the case this year. His lack of precision has led to him not making it past the 5th inning in over half of his starts. His splits as he progresses multiple times through the order get worse and worse as the season goes along, with him facing people for the 3rd time particularly brutal as hitters have a .328 average against him as opposed to a .218 one the first time through.

I can’t quite put my finger on what the issue is here either. His underlying metrics are pretty similar to what he’s had in the past, though his HR/9 has taken quite the jump from last year’s half season. His BABIP doesn’t imply bad luck, and his FIP implies that he’s actually getting decent D behind him. Whatever the reason, he needs to figure it out because every inning that Michael Kopech mows down the competition Keuchel becomes more and more unnecessary. Best case scenario for him would be a 6-man rotation to allow Kopech to ease back into the role and Rodon to preserve his arm. As a 5th starter, Keuchel is fine. With better options on the horizon, however, his time may be limited.

GRADE: C

Dylan Cease

Games Started: 18 / 7-4 Record

4.11 ERA / 1.27 WHIP / 3.68 FIP

117K / 39 BB / 3.00 K to BB Ratio

2.0 WAR

Ahhh Dylan Cease, the pitcher that drives me crazier than any other on the roster. You can see the tools, and when his stuff is on, he’s nigh unhittable. He has little issue getting ahead in the count, with 0-2 and 1-2 counts the norm. Instead of putting away the hitter, the nibbling begins and before too long it’s either a full count or a walk. He throws way too many pitches, and puts himself in situations where there’s little margin for error.

He’s also one of the pitchers who’s spin rate has dropped fairly precipitously in the past months, though it hasn’t made as much of a difference in the way he approaches batters. His FIP implies he’s had some bad luck behind him defensively, but some of that can be attributed to the fact that he’s also the slowest pitcher on the roster, and that can lull a defense to sleep.

Ultimately I’m splitting hairs, as Cease is fine as a 4th starter. His stuff has potential to improve, and most of his issues are more approach related as opposed to mechanical. Carlos Rodon is proof that sometimes it takes starters longer to bake in the oven, and we should keep that in mind when it comes to Dylan.

GRADE: B

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 2 – Astros 10

Game 2: White Sox 1 – Astros 2

Game 3: White Sox 3 – Astros 7

Game 4: White Sox 2 – Astros 8

 

Not much you can say about a series where everything that could possibly go wrong did. I suppose the only bright side is the Sox made it through 4 straight games without anyone’s soft ligament tissue bursting into flame on the field. Huzzah.

I think the worst part about all of it is now I have to wear an Asstros jersey in September because I lost a bet to the guy in the above picture, who is a physical representation of every single Houston fan on the planet squished into one tiny body. Don’t ask me why he looks like a homeless Ric Flair, there’s no good answer.

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

Game 1

-Dylan Cease just did not have it in this one. 3.1 Innings with 7 runs given up, and 2 walks somehow still doesn’t convey just how little he was able to command his stuff. Everything was up in the zone, but not up enough and it was getting pounded. Hopefully this is just a hiccup, but the fact that he has yet to defeat a team with a winning record is less than confidence inspiring.

-Yoan Moncada is hurting from whatever is currently ailing him, and it shows. I know the Sox desperately need his bat in the lineup, but if he’s going to be dragging ass perhaps it might be best to just bite the bullet and rest him.

-4 hits ain’t gonna get it done against ANY major league lineup, let alone one of the top teams in the AL.

-That being said, Jose Urquidy looked to be at the top of his game with 69 of his 92 pitches going for strikes. The Sox had a barrel rate of 0.00%, which is pretty unheard of outside of Jake deGrom. Not a great night all around.

-We’re gonna need to put Yermin’s face on some milk cartons, because he’s completely disappeared.

Game 2

-As much as Dylan Cease didn’t have it in game 1, Carlos Rodon made up for it in game 2. The only difficulty he ran into was in the 5th, where he walked in the only run he gave up. Until that point he was cruising through the Astros lineup, averaging a mere 10 pitches thrown per inning. He deserved a better fate.

-While the Sox offense was able to muster a few more hits this game, they managed one less run due to their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Grandal, Lamb and Vaughn all stranded multiple runners in their at bats, and none of them looked good doing it.

-Cody Heuer finally put together a solid inning of relief, striking out 2 while keeping the game tied in the 8th. More please.

-Not much Garret Crochet could do about Alvarez’ game winner, as he poked a very good slider on the outside corner down the line past Moncada. Sucks, but it happens. Still think that Crochet’s ultimate destiny is a high-leverage reliever a la Josh Hader.

-Scoring 1 run and stranding 8 runners won’t win any awards in the majors, and that’s two stinkers in a row for the offense. Not a trend yet, but it’s getting close.

Game 3

-Lance Lynn finally had a stinker, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. He didn’t make it to the 5th inning for the first time since his opening start this year in Anaheim, but in that one it was the defense that let him down. In this start he was just caught throwing too many pitches to a too-patient Astros team that got him into situations where they could simply sit on his fastball.

-Two extra base hits ain’t gonna get it done 9 games outta 10. This game was not The One. Only Moncada and Vaughn were able to make it to 2nd base, with everyone else pretty much flailing at what Framber Valdez was offering up.

-On the positive side of things Ryan Burr had another quality outing, going 2 strong innings, only giving up one walk and a hit before giving the ball to Jose Ruiz, who promptly gave up another run.

-Another game, another 0-fer for Yermin who looks completely lost at the plate now.

Game 4

-Some piss-poor defense in this one, which saw two plays (only 1 of which was called an error by the official scorekeeper, who must have been more shitfaced than I was on Saturday night) that extended the inning for the Astros and forced Dallas Keuchel to throw far too many pitches. Yoan’s throwing from 3B has looked off since he came back from his NOT COVID stint on the bench.

-Speaking of Dallas Keuchel, he was clearly pretty amped up to return to the Juice Box in the first two innings, as he’d alternate beautifully placed cutters and sinkers with pitches that were nowhere near the zone. Unfortunately he never completely settled down and was done by the 3rd inning.

-Lance McCullers had the Sox number on Sunday, as outside of the Jake Lamb 2-run shot in the 2nd he was never in any danger at all.

-Not much else to say other than the fact that the team sucking early in this game allowed me to switch over to the US Open earlier than I thought I would. Unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement in that either, so a pretty boring Sunday afternoon sports-wise.

 

Ultimately, this series is fairly meaningless in the long run. The Sox had just taken 2 outta 3 from two of the top teams in the East, and they caught the Astros right as they were heating up. Scoring 8 runs in a 4 game series is never going to end well, and all we can really do is hope this is merely a bump in the road.

Next up we get 2 Nights In Pittsburgh as Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease draw the starts for the midweek series. As far as pallet cleansers go, the Pirates are the perfect option being 20 games below the .500 mark. It’ll be a good test for the offense to see if the Astros series was merely a fluke, or a portent of something far more sinister.

Moving on.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 8 – Cleveland 6

Game 2: White Sox 1 – Cleveland 3

Game 3: White Sox 5 – Cleveland 6

Game 4: Rained Out

 

I guess the best thing that can be said about this series is that the Sox only lost one game in the standings to Cleveland. Ultimately there were some disturbing trends in this series that bear watching, such as the offense continuing to strand runners on base combined with Carlos Rodon and Dylan Cease turning back the clock in a less than stellar way. Throw in Yermin Mercedes being colder than Winnipeg in January and you have a formula for a losing streak in there.

The fact that the Sox have thus far been able to avoid extended periods of losing gives me a hollow feeling in my gut that has nothing to do with the Taco Bell currently residing there. The reality is that the Sox are currently .500 (9-9) against teams with a winning record. With a much stiffer schedule in June that includes Toronto, Houston and Tampa Bay the urpy feeling isn’t quite ready to go away just yet. I totally get that you have to punch down against the lesser teams on your schedule, but outside of the series against the Cardinals (who they themselves are not exactly running and gunning as of late) the Sox offense just hasn’t looked up to snuff. I suppose we’ll know more at the end of the month, and hopefully all this indigestion was more chalupa-based than anything else.

 

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

Game 1

-Another moment of concern came in the first few innings of this game when Carlos Rodon’s fastball velocity seemed to be 4-5 mph off his usual heat of 96-97. He was able to bring it up to 95ish by the 4th and 5th innings, but this (combined with the dingers he was giving up) was pretty concerning and definitely bears watching in his next start.

-The Sox offense put up 8 runs in this one, but most of that was thanks to some serious shenanigans in the field by Cleveland. Zack Collins shot a double down the LF line in the 2nd that plated 3, but only after some hilariously bad throwing by Cesar Hernandez and Josh Naylor. I’ve seen better relay throws at my D league softball games, and most of those hit the backstop (GLARES AT JOEY GUTH).

-Cody Heuer ended up with the W after coming in and tossing a clean 7th where he gave up a sharp single, but immediately wiped that out with a nice sinker into a double play to Jose Ramirez (which may be the only out he made all series).

-The Sox were able to plate 3 in the 8th when Billy Hamilton stole 3rd and was knocked in with a sac fly from Jose. After that, Yermin drew a walk and Eaton plopped on into the visitor’s bullpen for a 3 run lead. All this off Sticky Hands James Karinchak, who was seen all series wiping some substance off his mitt into his pitching hand, which Stone and Bennetti called out in game 3 on Monday:

-As detailed in this Athletic article (paywall warning) by Ken Rosenthal and Britt Ghiroli, the use of foreign substances by MLB pitchers seems to be approaching epidemic-level proportions, with some players comparing it to the steroid abuse of the late 90’s and early 00’s. Considering the spin rates on some of these pitches it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was the case, and I wonder just how much the league will be looking into it.

Game 2

-A spot start here for Jimmy Lambert, who was called up earlier in the week to eat a few innings. He looked pretty serviceable in his 4 innings of work, just really making one mistake to (who the fuck else) Jose Ramirez in the 3rd. Giving the kid a few innings at the ML level while getting some needed rest for the pen was a solid move and I’d like to see him again when rosters expand in September.

-Cal Quantrill held the Sox at bay, scattering 4 hits and striking out 5 in 4 innings of work in true Opener fashion. Other than Nick Madrigal’s RBI single in the 3rd there wasn’t much to write home about here offensively.

-In other call up news, Ryan Burr made an appearance and went 1 and 1/3d innings. He struck out half the batters he faced, and overall looked pretty solid (mostly because he didn’t face Jose Ramirez). Bullpen depth is good, especially the type that has the movement on his fastball like he does.

-This game sucked.

Game 3

-Dylan Cease looked all out of sorts in this one, throwing almost 50 pitches in the first two innings. His fastball command deserted him, and he was catching too much of the zone with all of his stuff. He only walked 1, which was good, but he also only struck out 2. Add those to the 8 hits and 6 ER he gave up and that was too much of a lead to overcome.

-Shane Bieber looked as hittable as he ever has yesterday, yet the Sox kept letting him off the hook with 2 outs. The Sox very easily could’ve knocked him out of the game early, yet bad approaches at the plate by Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu (who struck out twice with RISP, once to end the game) let him escape with only 2 earned runs in his 7 innings of work.

-Billy Hamilton has turned himself into an excellent signing by Rick Hahn, as he turned a gapper into an inside the park home run (no matter how the official scorer at the Jake listed it). He also scraped the living shit out of his face with a hands-first slide into home that looked fantastic, and also painful as hell.

-Maybe Jake Lamb doesn’t suck so much after all.

-Yermin Mercedes needs a few days off, but the lineup is so paper-thin right now that I don’t know how many Tony can actually give him.

 

Next up is 4 with the Detroit Tigers, which normally is good for what ails ya, but they swept the fucking Yankees last weekend. They even held them to 5 runs in 3 games. They also dropped 10 runs against the Brew Crew on Memorial Day, so I don’t know what the hell to think, other than that the Sox should take nothing for granted and keep punching down.

LFG

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Cardinals 1 – White Sox 5

Game 2: Cardinals 3 – White Sox 8

Game 3: Cardinals 4 – White Sox 0

 

That was an acceptable palette cleanser from the verp that was this past weekend in the Bronx. The Sox starters were the story of the series, with Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodon all notching quality starts en route to taking two of three from the Red Birds. Liam Hendriks seems to have returned to form as well, coming into the legendary 8-3 save situation after Garret “Garbage Time” Crochet (and I mean that with the utmost respect, as he’s too good a pitcher for mop up duty) loaded the bases in the 9th inning on Tuesday night. He struck out the side in true Mariano Rivera fashion to seal the deal, screaming FUCK all the while. My dude.

The offense was present and accounted for in the first two games, and then vanished completely in game 3. Much like the rest of the time when the Sox score 2 or less runs (in which they are a paltry 1-7 in the month of May and 2-10 overall) the outcome was not in their favor, aided and abetted by TLR’s insistence on giving away outs trying to bunt runners over.

Which wasn’t helped by Yermin Mercedes’ inability to hit with RISP on Wednesday, going 0-4 while stranding 10(!) runners on base. Just leaving this out there, but since LaRussa needlessly threw Mercedes under the bus in Minneapolis, he’s slashed .207/.273/.480 with 1 run and 1 RBI as opposed to his slash line in the 8 games before: .344/417/.980 with 4 runs and 8 RBI. It’s one of those “I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin” kinda things. Is it that he’s just slumping right now, or that pitchers have figured him out? Sure, that’s a possibility. The timing is very suspect, however.

Anyways, to the bullets.

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

 

Game 1

-Lance Lynn was a beast in this one, taking a no hitter through 5+ innings, ultimately ending with 7 innings, 3 walks and 4 Ks en route to his 5th win of the season. While TLR was waxing poetically about how “difficult” it was to pitch against his former club, Lynn held no such sentiment, saying “I’m an asshole when I pitch” and declaring the win to be one of the “Most satisfying” of his career.

-Andrew Vaughn blasted his 4th home run of the season off a pretty good changeup by Cards starter Kwang Hyun Kim. He also added a single to bring his average up to .230, a pretty solid feat for a guy who spent about 6 hours total in the minor leagues. The hit tools are very clearly there, and he’s gotten better playing the OF. Good shit.

-Tim Anderson broke out of his mini slump with a 2 run double down the RF line, though he was ultimately gunned down by Molina at 3rd trying to stretch it into a triple. I’m pretty happy with both of those things, as being aggressive on the basepaths like that is Timmy’s M.O.

-Michael Kopech came in to shut the door in the 8th and 9th and looked pretty damn good doing it, striking out half the batters he faced and walking none.

Game 2

-This was billed as a marquee pitching matchup between two former high school teammates who became aces at the big league level. It was…not that. The Cardinals defense were struck by a bad case of The Sucks, and Flaherty tried his damndest to hold it together but in the end gave up 7 runs, 4(!) of which were of the unearned variety. Lucas Giolito looked solid, if unspectacular in his 6 innings of 2 run ball. There was a moment before he came out for the 5th where Ethan Katz and the training staff came out to look at him for some reason, but Lucas waved them off and threw two more. Don’t know what it was about but I guess it bears watching.

-As mentioned above, Garret Crochet’s mystifying usage thus far this season has clearly made him rusty. More garbage time duty tonight turned into a save situation for Liam Hendriks, who mowed down 3 Cardinals to clean up the mess. Crochet has one of the best ERAs in the bullpen, yet we continue to see a bevy of innings pitched by Jose Ruiz (who would have trouble getting ME out). I don’t get the rationale, and it irritates the fuck out of me.

-Nick Madrigal and Jose Abreu made sure the Cards paid a price for the clown show in the field, going 5-8 between the two of them with 5 RBI, including this massive dong by Jose in the 7th inning, estimated at 69-420 feet. Nice.

 

Game 3

-Sure is a shame that we’re only going to get one season of the Ethan Katz-fueled version of Carlos Rodon, as he mowed down 10 Cardinals in dominant fashion. Rodon is the biggest example of just how out of touch with the pitching game Don Cooper had become at the end of his career.

-Unless you’re Billy Hamilton and it’s 85% of your offensive ability, bunting is fucking stupid. Yet here we are, with 3 sac bunts on the day that yielded zero runs. Fuck that shit into the sun, and let these professional hitters swing the fucking bats.

-Adam Eaton left the game with a hamstring injury and is considered day to day, leaving….nobody to play in the outfield. If Eaton is missing a stretch of time, then Rick Hahn is out of excuses and a move has to be made.

-In a scary moment, Michael Kopech stumbled off the mound after a pitch in the 8th and limped off the field. Supposedly the tweak to his ankle is minor and he won’t require a stint on the DL, but I’ll believe that when I see it, considering this team’s luck this year with injuries.

-Aaron Bummer and Jose Ruiz didn’t cover themselves in glory yesterday, quadrupling the Cardinal’s lead between the two of them.

-The Sox hitters were unable to get anything started (or finished for that matter), on their way to their 4th time being shut out this month. A new RF power bat that hits lefty from Seattle might be able to help with that. Who knows?

 

Next up is a 4 game set against another Bird-Themed baseball club, the Baltimore Orioles. As was foretold, they currently sit in the basement of the AL East, but that is fairly misleading as the O’s have the ability to jump on a team in a hurry. Anthony Santander and a cancer-free Trey Mancini have the kind of power to make opposing pitchers pay, and John Means might be a legit ace after his perfect game earlier in the season. Now is not the time to let off the gas, take 3 in the series and move on to Cleveland.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

VS. Evil Empire (album) - Wikipedia

 

Records: White Sox 26-16 / Yankees 25-19

First Pitch: Friday 6:05, Sat/Sun 12:05

TV/Radio: NBCSN/ESPN1000

Pizza Wars: Pinstripe Alley

 

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Game 1: Carlos Rodon (5-1 1.47 ERA) vs. Jordan Montgomery (2-1 4.75 ERA)

Game 2: Dylan Cease (2-0 2.41 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (5-2 2.03 ERA)

Game 3: Dallas Keuchel (3-1 4.44 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (1-3 5.73 ERA)

 

3 weeks ago I don’t think anyone would’ve considered this series to be a potential 1st round playoff preview, as the Yankees were mired in their worst start to a season in over 20 years. Coming out of the gate with ice cold hitting and having everyone not named Gerrit Cole getting pummeled on the mound will do that to you. Much like the White Sox, however, as soon as the mercury began to climb the Yankees bats came alive. Just since the calendar flipped to May, the Bombers have gone from averaging 3.45 runs per game to 4.06. In April, they scored 2 or fewer runs in 8 of their 26 games and went 2-6 in them as compared to May where they’re 4-2 in games where they score 2 or less.

Leading the charge offensively are the usual suspects of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Gio Urshela. Combined, the 4 of them are worth approximately 4.4 WAR so far with Judge taking up a whopping 1.6 of that number. Missing from those stats is the recently returned Luke Voit, who missed the first 6 weeks of the season after having a procedure done on his knee to repair a partially torn meniscus. Given that he missed most of spring training and the season thus far, it’s pretty forgivable that he’s only slashing .207/.303/.610 with one lonely dinger to his name. Really, this lineup doesn’t have any holes in it right now with the exception of missing Stanton right now (who’s out with a strained hamstring, but is expected back after this series). The biggest disappointment would have to be Gary Sanchez, who has yet to break the Mendoza line, but even he’s run headfirst into 5 home runs so far.

On the starting pitching side of the ball, things are much less rosy for the Yanks. Outside of Gerrit Cole (and I suppose Corey Kluber and his no-no on Wednesday night) the starting rotation has been eminently hittable. After Cole and Kluber, the ERA of the 3rd through 5th starters sits at 4.51 with a 1.20 WHIP. The biggest offender is the game 3 starter, Jameson Tallion who’s return from double Tommy John surgery has not yet paid the dividends that Brain Cashman was hoping for when he sent 4 prospects to the Pirates in exchange for his services this past off-season. Tallion hasn’t had issues with striking people out, as his K/9 sits at a very pretty 10.99. His problem has been (much like Dylan Cease at the start of the year) pitch efficiency and walks. He’s started one less game than Gerrit Cole, but he’s pitched 20 less innings than him, with a walk rate just under 2.4. He’s only gotten past the 6th inning once (two weeks ago against the Nats), and he needed 100 pitches to do it. Having him going game 3 against the Sox in what is hopefully the rubber match of the series tips the scales towards the Sox in that instance.

As for the White Sox, after the series win against the Twins this past week (coaching shenanigans and all) without the services of Jose Abreu they look to increase their lead in the AL central. The Indians still sit 2.5 games behind the Sox with a series against the Twins on tap this weekend.

After the offensive outburst night one vs Minnesota, the bats predictably went quiet over the next two games. After pounding out 4 runs against the rookie Bailey Ober in game 2, they were only able to manage 2 runs over the next 14 innings while stranding 19 runners on base. A majority of this is to be expected, what with 3 of the top 4 hitters on the team on the shelf with injuries and all, but hopefully this turns around with the (supposed) return of Jose Abreu for this series. At publishing time there still has been no word as to Jose’s status but the previous update from the team expected him to be available for this weekend’s series.

As for the pitching, they’ll have their work cut out for them this weekend playing in a park built for the long ball. The porches in left and right field are some of the shortest in the league and the Yanks (much like the Sox) are build to pummel left handed pitching so Rodon and Keuchel are going to need to keep the ball down to survive. Saturday’s matchup of Dylan Cease and Gerrit Cole should be a K-Fest, as the two of them combined average 9+ strikeouts per 9 innings with a sub 2.40 ERA. It should be fun, as well as the stiffest test of Cease’s newfound control thus far.

All told, this series is going to be a good measuring stick for the White Sox going forward. The Yankees are probably the best offense they’ve seen this far, and that’s without Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup. Keep the walks to a minimum, keep the ball down, and hopefully keep the bullpen use to a minimum. The starters for the Yankees in games 1 and 3 can be gotten to, especially with Jordan Montgomery being a lefty and Jameson Tallion unable to find the plate. Take 2 of 3 here and then come home to face the Cardinals on Monday.

 

Let’s Go Sox.

Baseball

Twins VS.

 

Records: Twins 12-20 (LOL) White Sox 19-13

First Pitch: Tues/Wed 7:10 Thursday 1:10

TV/Radio: NBCSN and ESPN1000

Ted Talk: Twinkie Town

 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Kenta Maeda (2-2 5.02 ERA) vs. Dylan Cease (2-0 2.37 ERA)

Game 2: J.A. Happ (2-0 1.91 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-1 3.79 ERA)

Game 3: Michael Pineda (2-1 2.43 ERA) vs. Carlos Rodon (5-0 0.58 ERA (!!))

 

Ahhh the Twins. The Nashville Predators of the AL Central. The team that has the talent to win the division year in and year out, yet is hilariously unable to win even a game in the postseason. It would be even more hilarious if it usually didn’t come at the expense of the White Sox playoff chances. This year things seem to be upside down, however. The Twins record currently sits at an ugly 12-20, good enough for 4th in the division while the Sox sit atop the pile at 19-13. The Twins, known these past few years for pounding the ball out of the yard (earning them the moniker of Bomba Squad) continue to be offensively gifted, sitting 4th in the AL in total offense right behind the Sox. The pitching is where it all starts going wrong for the Twins. They currently rank dead last in the AL for WAR earned by their pitching staff (the Sox sit 2nd behind NY), and are bottom 3 for all the major categories including K/9, ERA, and FIP.

The starters for Minnesota actually haven’t been as bad as the above indicates, as nobody expects Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda to have 5+ ERAs for the rest of the season (though to be fair, nobody expects JA Happ to have a sub 2 ERA for the rest of the year either). It’s when the starters come out of the game that the pitching gets truly horrendous. The Twins bullpen is worth a collective -0.6 WAR, and has the most blown saves of any AL team thus far in the season, most of which came from Sox Sleeper Agent Alex Colome who’s 1-3 record with 3 blown saves has done more for the Chicago cause than anyone else on the Minnesota Squad. Anytime I see those stats, my complaints about the start for Liam Hendriks die a quiet death.

On the offensive side of the ball, the long awaited breakout for Byron Buxton seems to have finally happened. In the month of April he absolutely punished the ball, to the tune of a .370/.408/1.180 slash line and a hilarious 226 wRC+ rating. He also crushed 9 home runs and stole 5 bases, which seems kind of low for him but when all the balls you hit leave the yard stolen base opportunities tend to go down. Unfortunately for Buxton and the Twins, the injury bug that has plagued him his entire career reared it’s ugly head last week when he pulled up lame with a grade 2 hip flexor strain (sound familiar?) and will miss a few weeks at least while it heals up.

Nelson Cruz is still doing his thing, slashing .295/.340/.910 with 8 dingers. For a guy pushing 41 years old, that’s impressive as hell. He no longer plays in the field, so the Twins lose him when they head to NL parks (much like the Sox with the Yerminator) but when he’s at the dish there’s nobody on the Twins who can do more damage with Buxton out.

After Buxton, Cruz and Josh Donaldson (when healthy), the drop in production rate is pretty steep for the Twins. Miguel Sano, Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler are all under the .250 mark for average, with .480 the highest slugging percentage among them. Prized rookie Alex Kirrillof was called back up a few weeks ago (mysteriously after the service time deadline for another season passed. Weird) and went on a tear for about 10 days before he fucked up his wrist (and my fantasy team). They’re waiting on a second opinion, but season ending surgery is still on the table. Either way, both him and Buxton will be out from this series.

As for the Sox, they look to keep the momentum going on the pitching side of things after the triumphant sweep of the Royals this weekend where Rodon, Lynn and Giolito allowed a combined 4 runs the entire series. The offense did it’s part, banging out 29 hits and plating 21 runs in the series. The Sox jumped all over the Royals prized rookie starter Daniel Lynch by dropping 8 runs on his head and chasing him from the game before he could complete the first inning. The Yerminator had his first career triple on Sunday afternoon, hitting a ball in the gap that Michael Taylor tried to snag with a dive but ended up punting it into the corner. The Yerm ended up a home run short of his first career cycle, but seeing him chug past second for the triple was well worth my time.

Both Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease look to build off their excellent starts last time out against Cincinnati, going a combined 13 innings without yielding a run. Cease had his best outing possibly of his career, going 6 strong innings with 11 strikeouts. More importantly he was efficient with his pitches, only walking 3 (which for him is an improvement) and throwing 96 to finish the day. His fastball had more life on it than in previous starts, and he was accurate with it at the top of the zone. Keuchel was back to his old economical self, only striking out 1 but getting everyone else on the Reds to pound the ball in the dirt with his sinker, which looked the best it has since last season. Both guys are going to need to continue this trend, because despite the Twins being in a rut they still have the offensive weapons to make the Sox arms pay the price for mistakes.

Despite being up 7 games on the Twins, now is not the time to take the foot off the gas. I think we all know that the Twins misery is only temporary, and at some point the sleeping giant is going to awaken and climb back up the rankings. The 6 games the Sox have with them in the next 9 days is the perfect chance to put even more distance between them and Minnesota, and making that hole they have to climb out of even deeper. 4 of 6 would be an excellent start, 6 of 6 would be considered euphoric. Bury these fuckers while you have the chance…no mercy.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

VS.

Records: White Sox 16-13 / Royals 16-14

First Pitch: Fri 7:10 / Sat 6:10 / Sun 1:10

TV/Radio: NBCSN and ESPN1000

Smoked Brisket: Royals Review

 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Carlos Rodon (4-0 0.72 ERA) vs. Brad Keller (2-3 8.06 ERA)

Game 2: Lance Lynn (2-1 1.82 ERA) vs. Daniel Lynch (0-0 5.79 ERA)

Game 3: Lucas Giolito (1-3 4.99 ERA) vs. Mike Minor (2-1 4.73 ERA)

 

 

Fresh off an idiotic loss to the Reds on Wednesday, the Sox head Southwest to the land of BBQ and Patrick Mahomes for a three game set against the Royals. It seems that the Sox are arriving in KC at an opportune time, as up until about a week ago the Royals sat atop the AL Central Division. One 5 game losing streak later, and now they’re a half game behind the Sox, and Cleveland has jumped everyone into first place.

In reality, none of this should be surprising. The Royals hot start was really nothing more than a mirage of great BABIP and a bullpen punching WAY above it’s weight. Now that statistics have come home to roost, runs have been in short supply and the pen has been getting it’s dick knocked in the dirt for a week.

All that isn’t to say the Royals lineup isn’t dangerous, because there certainly are some deadly spots in it. Sal Perez is still here, and having a resurgent year so far with 7 home runs on the campaign. Carlos Santana is doing his best Yasmani Grandal impression but with a better batting average. He’s currently slashing a very nice .250/.364/.818 on the year with 6 home runs and 21 RBI. He’s also walked as many times as he’s struck out (20), and somehow stolen a base. I can only imagine the shame of Wilson Ramos as he realized that figure slowly shambling between 1st and 2nd was not a mirage and actually Santana stealing his first base in over 2 years.

Whit Merrifield is still here, a cautionary tale still burning through the best years of his career with a perpetually rebuilding team, as is former Cubs project Jorge Soler, who’s power numbers are down precipitously from the last few seasons. Part of that is his current run of bad luck. His BABIP and wOBA are both around .260, while his actual average is hovering at .195. His hard hit percentage is the highest it’s been in his career at 58%, so he appears to be pretty snakebit right now. Here’s hoping that continues, because when he’s connecting the ball tends to go a long way.

As for the Royals starting pitching, the Sox manage to avoid their “ace,” Danny Duffy, who’s currently enjoying something of a renaissance this year. What the Sox get instead is their old enemy Brad Keller. The last time out, the Sox pummeled Keller for 4 runs in 3 innings on the way to a complete game shutout for Lance Lynn. This time around he gets to face Hard Carl and his 0.72 ERA, while Lynn draws the assignment of the Royals top pitching prospect in Daniel Lynch. Saturday will be the second career start for Lynch, who was the Royals first pick in 2018 (and 4th overall). He’s essentially a 3 pitch starter at this point in his career, with a plus fastball and slider with a changeup that he sprinkles in. The one thing he’s got going against him in this series is that he’s a lefty, though without Luis Robert and Eloy in the lineup the Sox aren’t nearly the Nightmare Fuel for lefties they were last season.

For the White Sox, after their split with the Reds a few days ago they’re 6-4 in the last 10 games. Still looking for ways to fill in the gaping hole left behind by the injury to Luis Robert, Rick Hahn did an admirable job signing Brian Goodwin to a minor league deal.  Goodwin in 2019 was a solid contributor for a mostly punchless Angels squad, slashing .262/.326/.796 in 413 plate appearances with 17 dingers. He played solid defense at all outfield positions, and was a 1.8 WAR player. He’ll spend a week or so at Charlotte getting ramped up for the season, but once he arrives he should provide an excellent stopgap for Hahn until he can swing a bigger deal.

Tim Anderson gets to face his nemesis Keller on Friday night for the first time this season since he was out with a hamstring injury the last series. While he only has a career average of .118 against Keller with the one glorious home run, he’s been pretty hot the last 15 games with a .313/.343/.827 slash line. The fact that he has his OBP higher than his average is a great sign for how Timmy is seeing the ball. Sure would like to have him see a hanger from Keller so he can park that shit in their stupid fountain.

As I mentioned above, the Sox are catching the Royals at exactly the right time. Their pitching has been exposed, and most of their hitting has gone cold. The Sox starters seem to have turned it around, and they line up well against KC this weekend. The table is set for a series win, and they’ll need it to keep up with a suddenly scorching hot Cleveland squad. Hopefully the team can put the shenanigans of Wednesday afternoon in the rearview mirror and punch down on a Royals club that is reeling.

Let’s Go Sox.

Baseball

See the source image VS.

Records: Tigers 7-16 / White Sox 12-9

First Pitch: 7:10 Tues-Thurs

TV/Radio: NBCSN and ESPN1000

TIGER UPPERCT! – Bless You Boys

 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Jose Ureña (0-3 4.57 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (1-1 5.79 ERA)

Game 2: Casey Mize (1-2 5.23 ERA) vs. Carlos Rodon (3-0 0.47 ERA)

Game 3: Matthew Boyd (2-2 1.82 ERA) vs. Dylan “Sigh” Cease (0-0 4.15 ERA)

 

I don’t hate the Tigers anymore. I really used to, back in the early part of the 2010s. Much like my hatred for the Vancouver Canucks and Red Wings in hockey it’s just sort of fizzled out, leaving behind a feeling of indifference bordering on pity (probably how a lot of other teams felt about the Sox in the late 2010s and how everybody feels about the Hawks now).

A lot of this stems from how MLB teams run their franchises these days. The first time I ever went to Comerica Park in Detroit (beautiful field, BTW. If you can make it up there, you should), the Tigers were playing the Indians and both teams were hell bent on racing to 100 losses that season. The highlight of the game was my buddies and I setting the over/under for total number of errors in the game at 4, and them blowing by it with 9.

A few years later and both teams were in the postseason and the Tigers lost to the Giants in the World Series. Then everyone aged out for Detroit and it was back down the other side of the hill for them. They’re currently at the bottom right side of the dip in their bell curve, waiting to climb on up. There are a lot of solid pieces on this team that just need the major league experience to take that next step.

The biggest part of this for the Tigers is their pitching staff, which in the next few years could rival Cleveland for youth and skill. Tigers GM Al Avila (despite looking like a used car salesman who moonlights as a gameshow host) has done well for himself by compiling a trio of starters with massive upside in Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. All three of which have the potential to dominate AL Central hitting for the next decade.

The thing the Tigers are missing at this point is position players. After Spencer Torkelson (now THAT’S a baseball name) and Daz Cameron there isn’t much in the pipeline that will be up in the next year or so unless they make a huge leap from A ball. As for who’s currently on the roster now that could be a piece of that future, Jeimer Candelario and Victor Reyes seem like they could be + players. Candelario arrived from the Cubs in 2017 along with Isaac Paredes for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. He was essentially handed the starting job at 3rd base from then on, mostly because the Tigers didn’t have any other options. He made a breakthrough last season, slashing .297/.369/.872 and a 136 wRC+ rating. He’s decent enough in the field, and will most likely have to stick at 3B because while Torkelson plays there, long term he profiles (much like our own Andrew Vaughn) as a 1B/DH type.

Another potential piece for the Tigers who mirrors the exciting story of Yermin Mercedes on the South Side is Akil Baddoo. A highly regarded high school player from Georgia, Akil Baddoo, was a 2nd round selection by the Twins in the 2016 draft. With the Twins stacked with OF prospects like Alex Kirilloff, they exposed Baddoo in the Rule 5 draft  last year and the Tigers snatched him up.

He forced his way onto the roster this year with a scorching spring training, then smoked a home run on the first ever pitch he saw in the major leagues. He then went on to hit a grand slam a day later, and walked the team off in the 9th with a pinch hit single after that. Things have gotten a little more difficult since that first week, but he’s still hitting .260 with 4 dingers and 19 batted in. Odds are he’ll end up in a platoon with his difficulty hitting left handed pitching, but he’s the kind of breakout guy the Tigers need to progress to that next level.

As for the Sox, after their sweep of the Texas Rangers this past weekend they’re looking to go on a nice dash this homestand before they have to hit the road again next week. The Tigers present the perfect opportunity to do that, as their young pitching staff has hit a bump in the road early on this season. Casey Mize has had trouble with the long ball, and Jose Ureña has had difficulty with walks in his first few starts. Both stats are the type that the White Sox hitters easily capitalize on, as walks and dingers are kind of their thing. The 3rd projected starter for the Tigers is currently their most successful one, Matthew Boyd. With a 2-2 record and a sub 2 ERA he’s been able to keep the ball in the yard and on the ground, which has eluded him in the past few seasons. The one thing working against him this series is the fact that he’s left handed, and the Sox penchant for skulling left handed pitchers is well known.

The wind is going to be blowing tonight, and the weather warm. The Sox bats are heating up, with 27 runs in their last 4 starts. In that span Jose Abreu has 3 dingers and 6 of his 17 RBIs on the season. Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert are coming around as well, with Moncada raising his average from .180 9 days ago to .258 now. He’s driving the ball to all fields, and knocked out an oppo dinger in game 1 against the Rangers. It will be interesting to see how LaRussa uses Kopech this series, as if Cease is unable yet again to get out of the 4th inning, he realistically could step in especially with Lance Lynn rumored to return on Friday night against Cleveland.

The hitting is there, the pitching is there (minus Dylan Cease on Thursday) and the time is ripe for the Sox to go on a tear and take the top of the division away from the stupid Royals, who nobody believes are going to be able to stay there anyways. The table is set perfectly, all the pieces in place…just need to take advantage of it.

Let’s Go Sox