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: Orioles 1 – White Sox 5

Game 2: Orioles 4 – White Sox 7

Game 3: Orioles 1 – White Sox 3

Game 4: Orioles 1 – White Sox 3

 

Punching down on the teams you’re supposed to beat in MLB is what gets you in the playoffs, and that’s exactly what the Sox did this past weekend. Lucas Giolito returned to his old unhittable self, Lance Lynn looked excellent and Dylan Cease brushed off his stinker in NY to get back to form. The only real issue was Dallas Keuchel and his sinker not sinking nearly well enough that resulted in quite a few balls clearing the OF fences at The Down Arrow. Yet the Sox hit enough dingers of their own to make it a moot point, and when you’re winning games with your 5th starter life is pretty good.

Not much else to say about this one, and it’s a holiday so I’m gonna go play a round of golf and enjoy being with my family. You all should do the same, and we can reconvene after the series with Cleveland with hopefully an even bigger lead in the AL Central. Have a good rest of your holiday everyone.

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

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 3 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Twins 8 – White Sox 13

Game 3: Twins 2 – White Sox 4

 

What a wonderful start to the season series against the evil that is the Minnesota Twins. On top of that, the Sox have now swept back to back division opponents and won 8 of their last 10 games in all. Despite that run, Cleveland has gone 9-1 in that same span and is still hanging around one game behind the Sox at the top of the AL Central list. On the flip side is the Twins now sit at the bottom of Shit Mountain, 10 games behind the Sox tied with the lowly Tigers.

The Sox starting pitching has been carrying the load the last few weeks as the offense begins to heat up, so it was nice to see the bats pick up the pitching when Cease and Keuchel had a bit of a stumble in the first two games of the series. The 25 runs the Sox put up boosted their run differential up to +66, good for 1st in the entire American League, with the next closest team being Houston at +45. The numbers look even more impressive when you realize that the Sox are second to last in home runs. So all these runs they’re banging out are being done against the league trend of the Three True Outcomes™ style of offense. Whether this is an adjustment to the deadened balls being trotted out, or a move to a different style of hitting with Luis Robert and Eloy on the shelf I don’t know, but it kicks all kinds of ass.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-Pitchers of the central beware, Jose Abreu is heating up. He had a killer series, going 5-11 with 5 RBI and his first triple in 2 years. He also added a dinger on Wednesday night, making that 3 in his last 6 games. You love to see it.

-We finally had the Billy Hamilton Game on Wednesday, as he went 4-4 with his first extra base hit when he legged out a triple and nearly caught Andrew Vaughn who went 1st to home and looked like I do after playing 30 minutes of tennis. While I don’t expect to see this again, any offense Hamilton generates is a complete bonus and should be treated as such. Good for him, as he’s a pretty easy guy to like.

-Lance Lynn only went 5 innings Thursday and had to go get his hand x-rayed after a comebacker smacked into it. The x-rays were negative and he shouldn’t miss a turn in the rotation.

-Yermin is only batting .386 now, so I think we can all agree he’s a bust.

-Grandal had a very Grandal series, walking 3 times and going 2-7 with a mammoth 3 run shot in game 1. His OPS now stands at .717 with a batting average of .130 which is fucking wild.

-Ole Googly Eyed Andrew Vaughn smoked his career first home run in game 2. He’s now slashing .263/.380/.775 which is MORE than acceptable for a rookie in his first go round in the league. Especially one who thought he was probably going to be DH’ing most of the time, not filling in for Eloy in LF.

-Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel labored through their respective starts, though I will say that the Twins are one of the more patient teams in the league, and they forced the two of them in the zone more often than not. Keuchel in particular (outside of his start against the Reds) has looked very hittable at times. Something to keep an eye on.

-Next up is another 4 games against the tailspinning Royals, who have now lost 11 in a row after getting broomed by the Tigers this week. Kopech will be taking another turn tonight in the second game of the double header. 7 is better than 6 boys, keep it up!

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

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Rangers 7 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Rangers 1 – White Sox 2

Game 3: Rangers 4 – White Sox 8

 

 

Now that’s more like it.

Every year around this time we as Sox fans start worrying that the offense isn’t going to live up to expectations, and almost every year when the calendar is about to flip from April to May the bats wake up in a barrage of offense and we all collectively slap our foreheads for being so silly. This year is no different, as the Sox offense exploded for 36 hits and 19 runs across this 3 game set against the Rangers. More interestingly out of character is the way the team knocked in those runs.

Game one was the kind of hitting display that makes older fans turgid, with the Sox banging out 16 hits with only a single dinger from Moncada accounting for any of the 9 runs. Game 2 was the classic “Pitcher’s Duel,” with Keuchel and Kyle Gibson locked into a death stare, and the first one to blink was actually Jose Trevino, as he let a passed ball give the Sox the lead 1-0 in the 6th. Madrigal would later walk the Sox off in the 9th with a double over Joey Gallo’s head. The 3rd game was a mix of the previous two, with Jose hitting a two run bomb to kick things off, and Michael Kopech mowing Rangers hitters down with seemingly little effort. It was quite the sight to behold, and with the warmest weather of the season forecast for this week, combined with the 3rd worst team ERA coming to town shit could get wild.

 

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-I’ve watched a lot of Sox pitching prospects come up and succeed in my time following the team, and there’s never been one who’s raw pitching talent has been on the level of where Michael Kopech currently sits. His stuff is just beyond filthy. Just look at the movement his 97 mph fastball has on this punchout pitch to Joey Gallo:

I understand the need to manage his innings this year and completely support it, but seeing shit like this makes watching Dylan Cease starts that much more difficult.

-Speaking of Cease, nothing has changed since his last go around. He only made it through 3.1 innings, and threw an unholy amount of pitches in the 1st inning, ultimately totaling 86 in that span. His underlying spin rate metrics are ranked quite highly according to Statcast, but he just doesn’t get the outs and is always less than economical about the way he throws his pitches. It’s kind of a mystery, and I’m running out of patience for him to solve it. I’d suggest him being moved to an opener type scenario, but you have to be able to make it once through the rotation to be effective in that scenario.

-Yermin Mercedes continues to be hilariously good at hitting the baseball, going 6-12 in the series with two walks. There’s not much else to say about him, other than the fact that he’s taken the sting out of losing Eloy for 5 months. The Sox are going to have to have him work in the field somewhere, because once they head to Cincinnati next month, they’re gonna need his bat in the lineup. Also, I’d like to try his burger.

-Nick Madrigal is going to annoy the fuck out of opposing teams and their fanbases for the next millennia or so. He came up with two huge hits this series, walking the team off with a double over Gallo’s head in game 2 and a bases clearing triple in the gap in game 3. He’s a pretty divisive figure even amongst Sox fans, but once he gets to the point where he plays more consistent defense I feel he’s going to be a fixture in this lineup for a long time.

-Liam Hendriks screaming “FUCK ME” after giving up a game tying dinger in the top of the 9th in game two was hilariously audible on the broadcast, and Stone had to cover with a “he’s not very happy” comment. I get being pissed at yourself, but Willie Calhoun had no business tomahawking that nipples-high fastball out of the park. 99 times out of 100 that’s a swinging strike. That being said, Hendriks still has given up too many long balls thus far in the season and that bears watching as we go forward.

-Lucas Giolito apparently cut his middle finger trying to open a bottle of water which wasn’t a twist-off. I don’t know what brand of water seals their product in with razor blades, but I’m sure I can’t afford it. At any rate, seems like no cause for alarm with Lucas and he should be back on the mound for the series opener Tuesday night against Detroilet.

-You can SEE Moncada, Abreu and Luis Robert heating up at the plate. All 3 had hits that would’ve been dingers a month from now in warmer weather, and it’s only a matter of time before the middle of that Sox order is giving opposing pitchers night sweats. Love to see it.

-Codi Heuer is turning out to be what everyone assumed Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer were going to be: the shut down reliever TLR turns to with the game on the line in the 7th and 8th. Awesome stuff.

-The Sox now sit a game and a half behind the Royals (yes, THOSE Royals) for 1st in the Central Division, while the Twins just lost a series to the Pittsburgh Pirates (LOL). Nobody out there believes that this is how it’s gonna go for the rest of the season, but I’m still gonna enjoy the Twins eating shit in the basement for a few more weeks.

-Next up is the Detroit Tigers, who managed to get totally cock punched by the aforementioned Royals this past weekend. They have the 3rd worst team ERA in the league so far, and the weather is supposed to be windy and warm. Strap in, because it looks like the Sox are going streaking.

LFG

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES

White Sox 6 – Mariners 0

White Sox 10 – Mariners 4

White Sox 4 – Mariners 8

 

It takes a special kind of fuck up to take a series win like the Sox had and make it feel like they just got swept, yet here we sit. The Sox took the first two games against the Mariners in very high quality fashion, with Carlos Rodon hitting 98 on the gun on night 1, and Jose Abreu launching his 2nd granny of the season in night 2.

Then came the 6th inning in game 3.

With the Sox holding a 4-1 lead, Dallas Keuchel took the mound and promptly gave up a walk and a single, which involved Adam Eaton attempting to throw out Jose Marmolejos at second and it ending up in front of the Mariners bench. That was the end of Keuchel’s day, and in came Matt Foster to attempt to stem the bleeding. 5 hits and two walks later the Sox were down 7-4 and the game was out of reach.

 

TO THE BULLETS:

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-Let’s get this out of the way to start: LaRussa totally left Matt Foster out there to drown. After the game, LaRussa had this to say about the whole situation:

Yeah, no shit.

-The big selling point of having TLR over Ricky Renteria on the bench was the fact that Tony was supposed to be this mad genius working with the bullpen. Leaving Foster out there for 40 pitches and 6 runs while you have Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks, neither of whom had thrown in days, sitting on their hands in the pen is inexcusable. These guys are supposed to be your HIGH LEVERAGE relievers, and you’ve got the game on the line. What in the fuck are you waiting for?

-Also, the lineup that TLR threw out for game 3 made me think it was 2018 again. The rebuild is supposed to be over, and yet Billy Hamilton (who is fine, don’t get me wrong), Jake Lamb and Danny Mendick are all starting. This was insanely apparent when Justin Dunn walked 42 people in 5 innings, yet the Sox could only scratch 4 runs off him.

-Dallas Keuchel is beginning to worry me as well. He has yet to get out of the 6th inning in either of his starts and most of his stuff is up in the zone. Sinking fastballs don’t do much good when they’re letter high. He may still not be stretched out yet, but this definitely is a red flag right now.

-Anyways, Carlos Rodon looked pretty good on Monday night, going 5 strong innings with 9 Ks. His 3 walks all came in the same inning, but he then turned around and struck out the next 3 guys to get himself out of his own jam. Hard Carl indeed.

-Zack Collins had himself a strong series as well, going 3-9 in his two starts with 5 RBI, 3 of which came on a bomb shot in game 2. Once Engel comes back, playing time for guys like Collins and The Yerminator might start being pretty sparse, which sucks because you need them in the lineup right now, especially with the Human Sinkhole playing in RF.

-Lucas Giolito had pretty much the same start as Rodon, giving up 3 and striking out 10 in his 5.1 innings of work. He looked great, but with no Sox starter making out of the 6th inning the bullpen is begging them to last longer. Lance Lynn will get his chance, as he takes the bump on Opening Day on the South Side against the Royals, which leads me to:

 

Series Preview: Royals At White Sox – Homeward Bound

VS

Probable Starters

Thursday: Brad Keller (0-0, 40.50 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Saturday: TBD vs. Dylan Cease (0-0 5.79 ERA)

Sunday: TBD vs. Carlos Rodon (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Coming home in front of fans for the first time since the end of the 2019 season should feel pretty good for the Sox. Getting the fuck out of the West Coast should feel even better. Waiting for them on the South Side are the Kansas City Royals, who sit on a 3-2 record after absolutely blowing the doors off the Rangers in their first series, then splitting with Cleveland in the second. The Royals bats have come out of the gate on fire, scoring 33 runs in their first 5 games. 14 of those runs were scored against the Rangers opening day, with 8 different Royals plating a run in the fracas.

Under normal circumstances, the Royals offense is powered by Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler, with the corpse of Salvador “No Bat Flips” Perez helping out when he can. This season featured the arrival of Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi to the mix. Santana signed as a free agent from Cleveland in January, and the Royals acquired the services of Benintendi from the BoSox in a 3 team trade that sent prospect Khalil Lee to the Mets. The 5 of those guys combined with Hunter Dozier give the Royals (on paper) a pretty decent middle of the batting order. Obviously it’s worked out pretty well thus far.

As far as the pitching staff goes, coach Mike Matheny goes with Brad Keller on Thursday, who will be supremely disappointed to find out that Tim Anderson is on the DL. I’m sure he’ll find someone else on the Sox bench he can throw at. Maybe Yermin? Anyways, Keller got shelled his first start of the season, only lasting 1.1 innings, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs against the Rangers. Keller is a fastball/slider combo guy, who also uses a sinker about 20% of the time. He was converted to a starter in 2018 after the Royals basically ran out of pitchers, and has had decent success there, sporting a 21-23 record with a 3.63 ERA in that span. There isn’t much that’s exciting about Keller, but he keeps the ball in the park and his team in the game.

As for the rest of the starts, Matheny has decided to treat it (as he usually does) like some kind of national secret, preferring to announce the starters day of. Realistically, we can probably expect to see Mike Minor and Brady singer over the weekend. Mike Minor at this point is a known quantity, a career 4.00 ERA kind of pitcher who will give you innings and not much else. Brady Singer, however, is a far more intriguing figure in terms of ability. Singer was the Royals 1st overall pick in 2018, taken 18th out of the University of Florida. He made his debut last year in the covid season and performed pretty admirably going 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA. Right now, Singer works as a two pitch pitcher, primarily a sinker/slider type guy. Both of them are pretty solid, but they could benefit greatly from adding a 3rd option. Over the off-season he added a changeup, which he began throwing in spring training to middling success. If he can refine it, I could very easily see Singer becoming something much more than a back-end starter, which is where he’s currently projected to end up.

As for the Sox, escaping from the West coast with a 3-4 record is not exactly ideal, especially since they very easily could have won 6 of the 7 if the defense had been league average. Sadly, that was not the case and the Sox blew leads in every loss they had. The hitting hasn’t quite come around yet either, with the team stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd like it was going out of style. Combine that with the, shall we say, questionable bullpen management by TLR, and we’re left with a lot more questions than answers thus far.

With Lance Lynn taking the bump today, and an off day tomorrow, the Sox bullpen should hopefully be able to get considerable rest before the weekend. Odds are they’re probably gonna be needed at least on Saturday, with Dylan Cease on the mound. Both him and Rodon had exceptional spring trainings, but only Rodon has carried it over to the regular season this far.

With Tim Anderson officially going on IL yesterday, we can expect to see a lot of Leury Garcia at SS this weekend. Leury has not exactly gotten off to a blazing start so far, going 2-20 with no RBIs. While the Royals have the kind of staff that should theoretically allow Leury to turn stuff around, the Sox are really going to need him and Madrigal to fire up the bottom of the order.

With a week of home cooking for the Sox, it’s a good chance for them to set things right. Hopefully TLR’s issues with the bullpen this far is just him being acclimated to his new crew and how relievers in general are being utilized in today’s MLB. The Sox starters are better than anything the Rangers throw out there, so theoretically the Royals hitters should have a more difficult time finding pitches to drive. Now’s the time to right the ship and take that first real steps towards the postseason. Get it done.

LET’S GO SOX

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 1 – Reds 7

Game 2: White Sox 5 – Reds 0

Game 3: White Sox 3 – Reds 7

 

MEH.

That’s really the only descriptor that can sum up this weekend of White Sox baseball. The starting pitching, the timely hitting, the focus, all…meh. Which is really kind of understandable, really, to come out a little flat after the balls to the wall series against the Twins earlier in the week. If the next series looks like this, then perhaps we might begin to worry. As for now, treat it as an aberration and move on to the next one.

 

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-We learned two main things this weekend: Jonathan Stiever is young and inexperienced (DUH) and Dain Dunning is the team’s number 3 starter until proven otherwise.

-Dylan Cease finally found a bullet he couldn’t dodge: the patient plate approach of the Cincinnati Reds. The book was out on him, and the Reds hitters were all prepared to make Cease get THEM out and do him no favors in the process. Cease went 3+ innings and threw 80 pitches while walking 7 hitters. Almost every count went full, and Dylan just had no answers to their patience. His breaking stuff actually looked the best that it has in quite awhile, but his fastball control flat out sucks right now. Obviously after seeing the lows and highs of Lucas Giolito I’m not willing to write Cease of by any means, but if his control isn’t there he’s not much more than a 5th starter for this team.

-The Tim Anderson/Trevor Bauer headline lived up to the hype, as Timmy managed to take him deep in the 5th inning on Saturday night. Credit to Bauer for taking it with good humor saying TA should have bat flipped it.

-Nomar Mazara also managed to go deep off Bauer, however, so how hard can it be?

-Dallas Keuchel struck out a season high 7 batters, but he didn’t complete the 5th inning which is not something that’s happened in quite awhile. The K’s are nice, but I don’t think anyone would trade 7 Ks for 7 innings.

-Matt Foster and Cody Heuer are now officially “A Thing”

-Luis Robert is in a full on slump now, and a night off might not be the worst thing in the world for the kid. Give him a chance to get his brain in order.

-As of right now, the Cubs and Twins have each won one this weekend with tonight’s game to go so the lead still stands at 2.5 over the Twins. Go Cubs….I guess.

-Next up is 4 against Cleveland, which taking 3 of 4 could possibly result in the Indians missing the post season 2 years in a row because of the Sox. I’d love to see it, because I don’t think any of us want a 3 game series with that pitching staff in the first round.

 

Moving on…

 

Baseball

Twins VS.

Records: Twins 30-18/Sox 30-16

Start Times: Mon-Wed 7:10/Thurs 1:10

TV: NBCSN

Circle My Ass, Bert: Twinkie Town

PROBABLE STARTERS:

Monday: Jose Berrios (4-3, 4.40 ERA) vs. Dylan Cease (5-2, 3.33 ERA)

Tuesday: Randy Dobnak (6-3, 3.61 ERA) vs. Dane Dunning (1-0, 2.70 ERA)

Wednesday: Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 8.33 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (4-2, 3.43 ERA)

Thursday: Kenta Maeda (5-1, 2.43 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (6-2, 2.19 ERA)

 

AND WE’RE BACK! After a brief hiatus to decide the future of the blog after Dale Tallon managed to Milkshake Duck his way into the Shitty Hockey GM Hall Of Fame, we’ve decided to just say “fuck it” and power ahead. Thank you all for patiently waiting for us to figure out the future of the blog, and I’m extraordinarily excited to keep being able to do this for the 38 of you that regularly read my shit.

What a perfect time to come back, as the Sox head into what might be the most important series of this entire screwed up year. With a 1 game lead on the Twins heading into this 4 game set, it’s imperative for the Sox to prove that they can do more than just pummel the Tigers and Royals 20 games a year. While it’s true that those are historically games the Sox would biff and ultimately cost them a trip to the postseason, with a playoff birth virtually in hand it’s time to show the rest of the league they can throw elbows with the top end talent as well.

The Sox come into this series on a roll again, having won 8 of their last 10 games and averaging just under 7 runs a game. While those are some gaudy offensive numbers, runs against the Twins pitching staff will not be as easily had. Kenta Maeda has been absolutely nails for the Twins this season, and is giving Dallas Keuchel a run for his money as “Best Free Agent Signing In The AL Central.” Jose Berrios has also rounded back into form recently, as he’s overcome his wildness in the beginning of the season and sports a 3.79 ERA with 48 K’s over his last 7 starts.

Tuesday night presents the Battle of The Bespectacled Batterymates, as Randy Dobnek takes on Dane Dunning. Dobnek has been another example of found money for the Twins this season, as he started out as a candidate for 6th starter but managed to deal his way up the rotation after Rich Hill turned out to be actually made of glass. He’s come back to earth in his last few starts, giving up 12 runs in his last 3 when he’d only allowed 6 in his previous 6 combined.

Wednesday’s starter is still TBA, but the assumption is Jake Odorizzle is going to be coming off the IL, much the same way the Sox starter for Thursday is TBA but everybody knows it’s gonna be Keuchel unless he has a setback. Odorizzi hadn’t been much to write home about even before he went on the IL, sporting an 8+ ERA, with his K rate falling to a career low 19.6% and batters hitting a cool .326 against him. While his FIP suggests he’s the victim of some bad luck, it’s still at 6.14 so there’s some fire to that smoke.

As for the Sox, Dylan Cease kicks things off tonight with his tightrope act of somehow having a 3.33 ERA despite the eye test (and his FIP at 5.95) saying otherwise. Ben Clemens at Fangraphs put out an excellent article today taking a dive under the hood and explaining why despite having such a great spin rate on his fastball, it’s not moving at all or resulting in any strikeouts.

The Sox are either going to need his luck to continue, or ambush Berrios right out of the gate. Both are possible, and a combination of the two would be wonderful. Getting 6 innings out of Cease is going to be necessary, as there’s no guarantee that Dunning will be able to eat any extra innings Tuesday, and the bullpen needs all the rest it can get, as Jimmy Cordero is about to collapse into a pile of ash.

It will be interesting to see how Lucas Giolito handles the Twins this time around. It’s his 3rd start against them, and the first two really weren’t anything to write home about. With the amount of preparation, and as cerebral as he is, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him have a different plan this week than the “fastball/changeup” pairing he’s been riding recently. If he can make it out of the 1st inning with 20 pitches or less, I like the odds of a quality start.

On the offensive side of the ball, fingers crossed Jose Abreu can continue his quest for the American League MVP, and Tim Anderson can stay ahead of DJ LeMahieu in the race for another batting title. It also seems as though Yoan Moncada is starting to shake off some of the COVID effects he’s been dealing with over the past months, as his doubles power returned this last series against the Tigers.

Luis Robert is dealing with his first slump of the season, as he’s gone 4-25 in his last 7 games. While this is to be expected for a rookie, it would be nice to see him perhaps take a few more pitches in his at bats. When Nick Madrigal has a higher slugging percentage than you do over the last 10 games, it might be time to make an adjustment to your plate approach.

All that being said, as long as the offense can continue to hit the stitches off the ball they stand a good chance of at least splitting this series with the Twins, which at this point should be the absolute bare minimum bar for success. Time is running out on this bastardized season, and taking 3 of 4 from Minnesota would go a long way towards quieting the haters who say the White Sox can only beat up on shitty teams (and the Cubs).

 

And for the love of fuck, please don’t throw Nelson Cruz anything in the strike zone.

LET’S GO SOX

Baseball

Though he is technically listed here the Sox #4 starter in their 2020 rotation, the reality is the front office (and us as blog writers and fans) see Dylan Cease as at least the #3 starter of this team going forward. If that’s going to happen, however, there are a few things that need to happen both with his delivery and the results associated with them. While there were a few bright spots and moments of dominance for Dylan Cease in 2019, there were also times when his command disappeared for long stretches, leaving his fastball very hittable.

If Cease is to take over the 3 spot in the rotation, the year to state his case (hopefully) is this one. He’s been working in the off-season with Lucas Giolito to hone the control of his fastball (which worked wonders for Giolito this past year), and now has a new weapon behind the plate in Yasmani Grandal which should snag him a few more strikes each start. Honestly the more I write about the pitching staff, my level of happiness with the Grandal signing goes up. Will it be enough to break Dylan Cease out this year? Let’s take a peek.

 

2019 Stats

14 starts  73 innings

4-7 Record

5.79 ERA  5.19 FIP

9.99 K/9   4.32 BB/9  1.55 WHIP

45.7% GB-rate  68.1 LOB%  21.4% HR/FB

128 ERA-  0.7 fWAR

 

Last Week On Nitro: Man, those are some unsightly numbers, aren’t they? Looking at those, you’d think that 2019 was a total bust for Dylan Cease and that all hope was lost, right? WELL FUCK THAT SHIT. Granted, 2019 was definitely not the season that Cease was hoping for when he was called up to start on the 3rd of July. Sox fans hoping for some early fireworks were sort of let down. He went 5 innings, giving up 3 earned runs while striking out 6 and got the win so all good! Except he also walked 4 guys and hit two of them. The start was also against the Tigers, which is basically the baseball version of the Red Wings.

His next 4 starts were all losses, with him never giving up less than 4 runs and him only making it out of the 6th inning once. He got back in the win column again almost a month later (against the Tigers) but was still having issues with his control. Then came the start against the Rangers on August 23rd, and we all got a taste of why Dylan Cease was so highly regarded as he was. The first inning was more of the same, 32 pitches and a 3 run bomb by Willie Calhoun off a fastball that just spun at the top of the zone instead of slicing out of it.

Sox fans had seen this show plenty up till this point, but Cease flipped the script. Those 3 runs were all he was giving, and suddenly the fastballs were unhittable and the curveballs were dropping out of the bottom of the zone. The Rangers had no answers for him, and the Sox bats came alive and reminded Lance Lynn that he was, in fact, Lance fucking Lynn by dropping 7 on his head. Cease struck out 9 and only walked 1 in 5 dazzling innings after the first clunker.

One inning per start seems to be the one that prevented Cease from achieving a solid rookie year in the bigs. One inning where his command abandoned him, and his fastball failed him and his curveball hung there, waiting to be pummeled. The rest of the year was consistently inconsistent. Cease followed up his gem against the Rangers by getting tuned up by the Twins for 8 runs. Then he went 7 against the Tribe while striking out 11. The last 3 starts of the year were positive steps, as he only gave up 1 in each of them, leading us to wonder which Dylan Cease will show up this year?

Too Sweet! (WHOOP WHOOP): Best case scenario for Dylan Cease is he becomes Lucas Giolito Redux and breaks out this year in a ginormous way. If he’s able to control his fastball at the top of the zone, there aren’t too many hitters outside of Aaron Judge and Mike Trout who have the bat speed and eyes to catch up to it. Combine that with his spike curveball which, according to Statcast, has the 5th nastiest movement in all of MLB. Seriously, just look at this big bowl of filth.

Throw all those things together and you get a recipe for a big ole Breakout Pie. In what will (in theory) be a shortened season there is hope that Cease can K around 100 hitters and keep his ERA a respectable 3.70. He also won’t have any innings limits, so Renteria can feel free to let him off the chain. More importantly, he learns to avoid the Big Inning and is able to go deeper into games, averaging around 6+ innings per start. That’s a hell of a number 2-3 starter for a team with contention aspirations.

You Fucked Up! You Fucked Up!: Worse case scenario here is he actually stays the same as 2019. The Big Inning continues to plague him, he can’t get out of the 5th inning and each start proves that instead of a number 2 starter, his ceiling is actually that of a number 5. Without that bullet in the chamber, the Sox are forced to rely on Carlos Rodon coming back healthy to round out the rotation.

Instead of having a glut of starters and potential trade pieces down the road the Sox are left with merely 5 starters, two of which are coming back off of major elbow surgery. I don’t believe this is going to happen, as the Cease we saw against the Rangers and the Indians is far closer to the one we will get than the guy who got the tar pounded outta him by the Twins. You can’t discount the possibility, though.

Bah Gawd, That’s Dylan’s Music!: I think once Dylan Cease is able to take the mound this season we will all see an improvement over his inconsistencies of last year. The Big Inning will not totally disappear but the 2nd half of his season will be a little closer to what we see. There will still be burps and hiccups where he’s not able to get out of the 4th inning, but he’ll be going deeper and deeper into games the more he pitches. A 4.15 ERA with (more importantly) a 1.21 WHIP is not out of the question, with an increase in his K/9 to 10.55 and a decrease in his BB/9 (which at 4.5 last year wouldn’t take much to be considered an improvement) down to 3.30.

He’s going to be helped quite a bit by Yasmani Grandal, but hindered as well by the defense behind him. The other thing to remember is this is a kid who has all of half a season under his belt, so inconsistencies aren’t surprising in the slightest. All told, this second step in his career as a starter will be considered a success, with his status as number 3 starter of the future cemented. A 40+ home run left fielder and a number 3 starter with upside, all for Jose Quintana. Rick Hahn gets a gold star for this one, as the future continues to be bright for the Sox. Now if we could just have some baseball to look forward to…