Baseball

September 5th, 2018. A day that will live in infamy, as it was the last major league start where Michael Kopech took the bump for the White Sox. He only lasted 3-1/3rd innings in a game beset by weather delays. The whole start Kopech just didn’t look right. His velocity was down, and none of his stuff was dancing like we’d seen during his first couple starts. After the game came the news he was going for a scan on his pitching arm, and all of us Sox fans knew in our hearts what that was going to lead to.

Two weeks later he underwent successful Tommy John surgery, putting the final nail in the Shit Coffin that was the Sox 2018 season. It wasn’t so much that he was lost for the rest of 2018, that turd was flushed long before he ever came up from the minors. It was more that he was the only bright spot that year. A reminder to the loyal that while this season may suck, it sucks for a REASON. A brighter future awaits next year. Then in a puff of smoke and 6 hours of elbow surgery that brighter 2019 we dreamed of was gone like a hanging Ross Detwiler curve.

Every five days last season I wondered “man, how different would this game have been if it was Kopech starting instead of Dylan Covey-Detwiler-Despaigne?” How much closer to .500 would they have been if Kopech had been firing 99 mph fastballs and punching out chumps instead of us watching yet another Dylan Covey “sinkerball” penetrate the stratosphere with a 300 mph exit velocity? Now, with the 2020 season (eventually) here, (hopefully) we get to see what kind of devastation a bionic Michael Kopech can unleash upon the league.

 

2018 Stats (AAA Charlotte)

Games Started: 24

7 Wins and 7 Losses

3.70 ERA   1.27 WHIP

170 K  60 BB  9 HR

12.11 K/9 Innings  4.27 BB/9 Innings

3.30 FIP

 

Last Week On Nitro: Since Kopech only started 5 games at the major league level in 2018 (and I’m assuming at least a few of those were with his UCL in tatters) I decided to eschew the normal stats and post what he did at AAA Charlotte in 2018. A few of those things jump out at you, the obvious one being the 170 strikeouts in 120 innings for a 12.11 K/9. That strikeout level is cartoonishly awesome, and I have a hard time getting stats like that playing on rookie level in The Show on PS4 (gamertag Ahota88, come at me) (Actually don’t, I’m not very good at all). For comparison his 12.11 K/9 would’ve tied for 4th in the league last year with Justin Verlander. Granted, those stats came against minor leaguers but hitting stats in AAA have been crazy inflated for the past few years since they switched to the plutonium ball, so it’s not totally dismissive.

The other thing that stands out is the 4.27 walks per nine innings. That’s…not great. It would’ve landed him 3rd from the bottom in all qualified starters last year. Looking a little closer, a majority of those walks came in the first two months of the season where (if you’ll remember, and it was 2018 so I’ll forgive you if you don’t) he was famously struggling with his command. Once the calendar flipped to July, he found his command and never looked back. Up through June, he walked 52 batters and then from July through the end of August when he was called up he only walked 8 in 8 starts. That’s WAAAAY more what we would want to see command wise. I’d also point out that despite the crazy high walk rate, his WHIP was only 1.27 and that’s with getting sub par defense behind him as evident by his 3.30 FIP! If he would’ve kept the walk rate that he had in the last few months of his time in AAA his WHIP would’ve been close to 1, which is pretty bananas.

After his stint skull-punching his way through AAA rosters, he finally got the call from Rick Hahn to the big league team on August 21st against the Twins. In what would become an ongoing theme for his short time in the majors, rain cut that start short. In that brief glimpse, however, we saw more of the same stuff he displayed down in AAA with his fastball touching 99 mph and his slider diving away from right handed hitters. He struck out 4 in 3 and 1/3rd innings, and looked every bit the top prospect arm he was billed as. Sadly for us, a little over a month later he was done and we’ve barely seen him since. Before the league shut down due to the pandemic, he logged a single inning down in spring training. In that single inning, he threw 11 pitches, 4 of which were clocked at over 100 mph. *shocked face emoji*

 

Too Sweet! (WHOOP WHOOP): Best case scenario for Kopech this year? Honestly at this point it will completely depend on how long we are without baseball. I’m sure he’s back home right now throwing into a net or something but if the season was normal the Sox were not planning on having him with the big league team until May at the earliest. If the league starts play at some point in June the possibility exists that he’s on the “opening day” roster as the Sox 6th starter.

If that’s the case, then the best scenario for him is probably 10 starts or so over the course of the shortened season, with 75-90 strikeouts and a 3.10 ERA.  The possibility exists for him to log more innings than that, given Gio Gonzalez’ recent injury history and need for maintenance days. Really, though, as long as he can stay healthy and take the ball every 6 days or so I will consider the 2020 season a win for Michael Kopech and the White Sox.

 

You Fucked Up! You Fucked Up!: Absolute worst case scenario for the Sox here is an injury filled return for Kopech, and he ends up as the White Sox version of Brent Honeywell: infinite talent, but infinite injury. The other issue here is the original Tommy John surgery itself. Pitchers on average are about 78% successful at returning to peak form after a TJ surgery, which while very high, still leaves the possibility that he comes back not as he was.

In this scenario, he’s forced to completely overhaul his approach to challenging hitters. This brings to mind John Danks after his shoulder surgery, and that may have set back Jerry Reinsdorf’s willingness to pay for a pitcher back about a decade. If this were to happen, he goes from a potential ace to maybe a 5th starter or more likely a long reliever. This would make us all very sad, as I don’t want anything other than Kopech destroying the world with 100 mph fastballs.

 

Bah Gawd That’s Kopech’s Music!: If the season starts at some point in June, the odds are either Kopech starts in the bullpen to stretch him out or Ricky Renteria gets with the times and provides him with an opener. In both these scenarios there is no reason not to let him off the chain and have him throw smoke right out of the gate. I would think the Sox are going to try and get him close to 100 innings in a shortened season. A 3.90 ERA with over 100 strikeouts would be acceptable in this situation as long as his velocity and movement is still close to where it was.

In reality, just getting to watch Kopech on the mound again for the first time in almost 20+ months will be enough to put a smile on most Sox fans faces. Shortening the season by a few months and having him ready to go for a late opening day could be the only side benefit of having this awful pandemic sweeping the world. Hopefully we will see him sooner rather than later, and all of you are safe and healthy out there. Cheers!

Baseball

VS sea captain

 

Records: Sox 64-82  Mariners: 60-86

Game Times: Fri 9:10/Sat 8:10/Sun 3:10

TV: Fri/Sun WGN  Saturday NBCSN

Tis No Man, Tis A Remorseless Eating Machine: Lookout Landing

It’s always fun at the end of a season to have two rebuilding teams throwing whatever they can at each other. This matchup between the Sox and the Mariners promises to be no different, as they’re both basically in the same spot as each other in their rebuild. The both made big splashy moves in their off-seasons for the past few years, and now they’re both just sitting in front of the stove, waiting for the water to boil.

While the White Sox water may be bubbling more than the Mariners right now, it’s not by much. The M’s have a pretty interesting group of position players ready to take the next step in their major league careers, mixed in with some aging veterans who have been providing decent pop for the team. The Mariners as a whole are a better hitting team than the White Sox so far in the season, with their big bats being lead by Kyle “Not Cory” Seager and Dan “West Coast Palka” Vogelbach.

Seager missed the first 3 months of the season with a pretty nasty ligament tear in his hand. Before that he scuffled through the 2018 season, enduring his worst stretch of his career that saw him slash .221/.273/.400 and post an 83 WRC+, down almost 50 points from 2016-2017 seasons. He’s back at it this year however, as he has a .248/.331/.503 line thus far in 90 games, with 22 home runs. He’s been on a tear since the all star break, having hit 14 of those 22 home runs in the months of August and September. His .256 BABIP suggests that it’s pretty real, and actually he’s getting some bad batted ball luck in there as well.

The issue for the Mariners is not on the offensive side, as it’s their pitching that has let them down thus far in the season. They’re second worst in the AL, and third from the bottom of the league behind the BP machines that are the Marlins and the Orioles. Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi has not had the effect the Mariners were hoping for, as he’s gotten routinely shelled with a 5.24 ERA and 1.48 WHIP so far on the season.

Softball pitcher Mike Leake is gone, as he got shipped to ‘Zona at the deadline. The ghost of King Felix is here, who just returned from his 33rd trip to the IL since 2017 related to his shoulder which is “fine” and “structurally sound” and not at all “made from paper mache and balsa wood.” I joke here, but I actually love King Felix and were he on any other team than the Mariners would’ve had a pretty decent shot at being a Hall of Fame pitcher. Sam had a pretty great take a few weeks ago when they played the Cubs, check it out here. He’s also responsible for one of my favorite GIFs of all time, which is from last season when he struck out Adrian Beltre (who is also a national treasure) with a nasty change that resulted in a hideous swing, which Felix saw and prompted this reaction:

The only highlight for the M’s pitching staff is ace Marco Gonzalez, who came over from the Cardinals and almost immediately became the pitcher St. Louis had drafted him to be. Thankfully the Sox will miss him this time through the rotation. They will see Justus Sheffield (son of Gary) on Sunday, the prized rookie that came over from the Yankees in the Edwin Encarnacion trade. Sheffield was up earlier in the year and got knocked around pretty good. He got called back up a few weeks ago and has fared a bit better since then but still has a 4.43 ERA.

For the Pale Hose, the story remains the same. The Bullpen needs to be ready tonight, as they trot Dylan Covey out again to get decimated. Perhaps this time he makes it out of the 3rd inning, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Dylan Cease gets a chance to work on his fastball location again, and perhaps keep the walks down under 3. Nova goes again on Sunday. If the Sox pitching can keep the M’s off the board, the bats should have a good chance at feasting on sub-par Mariner’s pitching.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

Game 1 Box Score: White Sox 7, Tigers 4

Game 2 Box Score: White Sox 5, Tigers 3

Game 3 Box Score: Tigers 10, White Sox 6

Game 4 Box Score: White Sox 8, Tigers 1

Of course the contingent of asshole White Sox fans on this blog would leave a Sox-Tigers recap for me. Because what the fuck do you learn about a team when they’re playing a softball team from a company that’s already been liquidated? There might not be one useful player in the everyday lineup for the Tigers, and only a couple on the pitching staff. This team is headed for an end of season that will scare children for years. I guess it’s better than where the Sox were last week, getting their dick kicked in by the Mets. But apparently everyone is getting their dick kicked in by the Mets now. That’s a thing we’re just letting happen as a society. Anyway, I’ll do my best.

-I guess you have to rejoice that Dylan Cease didn’t back up against this lineup, if that were even possible. And he only walked one in five innings, but he still needed 101 pitches to get through those five innings. Cease is still relying on trying to power through ABs and counts, which is not a long term strategy for success. It’s fine against the decommissioned county fair of the Tigers, but against actual teams he’s still going to have problems.

-Second of a double-header with these teams, where Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey pitched, and they throw in an hour rain delay. Who said the gods didn’t have a sense of humor?

-Have yourself a series, Tim Anderson. Nine hits in three games, as he didn’t play in the nightcap Tuesday. I guess if I was really picky I would point out that only one was for extra-bases, and Anderson has to hit a ton of fucking singles to be a productive hitter and even that might just make you Juan Pierre and you don’t want him to be Juan Pierre, but let’s leave that for another time.

-Ivan Nova keeps rolling, which means…nothing? I guess it’s nothing.

-Signs of life from James McCann? Seven hits in three games for him, and maybe returning to where he was was something of an inspiration. That gives him a .409 average in August after a .173 July.

-Still, striking out seven times in three innings against a returning Spencer Turnbull, really the only pitcher the Sox saw, is less than encouraging.

The important thing is that it’s over and we can move on with our lives. Let’s do that.

 

Baseball

Game 1: Sox 3 – Twins 10

Game 2: Sox 2 – Twins 6

Game 3: Sox 5 – Twins 1

Game 4: Sox 1 – Twins 11

 

This is exactly how I feared this weekend would go. The Sox aren’t hitting very well lately, the starters (minus Ivan Nova, what a world) aren’t pitching very well, and Renteria isn’t coaching very well. Oh, and I guess Rick Hahn hasn’t GM’ed very well so far either. All of that adds up to a very miserable weekend of baseball on the South Side, and (based on the groan I heard from Wrigley last night) in Chicago overall. Time to sift through the rubble and talk about what went wrong (lots), and what went right (not lots). To the bullets.

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

-Let’s just get this out of the way: Dylan Covey is just plain awful. He’s not a major league starter right now, and I’d put the odds at 1,000 to 1 that he never will be. Thankfully he was banished back to Charlotte after the game, which on a personal level has to suck something fierce.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Renteria told him there was an Uber waiting for him at the curb when he walked to the mound in the first inning.  I have no idea what or who the fifth starter is going to be, but the spot won’t come up until after the trade deadline so maybe Rick Hahn will pull something fun in the next few days that will help with that (Narrator: He didn’t).

-Lucas Giolito has had three shitty starts now out of his last five and is winless in the month of July. I know he talks a lot about knowing what’s wrong with his fastball and change, but knowing what’s wrong and doing something about it are two totally different things. Regression was inevitable for this Sox team, I just didn’t think it would all happen at once. Giolito will get one more chance to score a July win on Wednesday, but no guarantees there as it will be against Jake deGrom.  Here’s hoping.

-Whoops, Nelson Cruz just hit another fucking home run. Good thing the Sox were never considering him as he wasn’t on Manny Machado’s iphone Favorite Contacts list.

-AJ Reed pitched a scoreless inning Sunday, which is the best thing he managed for this team all weekend. On the other side of the ball he went 0-10 with a walk, an RBI, and six left stranded on base. Best case scenario the Sox got him and Covey an Uber Pool ride to MDW and they’re never seen from again.

-Yoan Moncada is a badass.

-I’m kinda starting to like Ryan Goins, and if the Sox happen to move on from Yolmer or Leury Garcia at the deadline Wednesday I’d be OK with him getting more reps in the infield.

-Ivan Nova is having a mini-resurgance, as that’s two solid starts in a row now. He’s gone 15 innings in those two games, giving up one ER with six hits and one BB.  He’s not striking anyone out, but for a 5th starter (which, in a perfect world he would be the Sox 5th starter instead of their 2nd) you can do a whole lot worse. Keep it up.

-Dylan Cease had yet another terrible inning in the middle of a pretty solid start. These are the growing pains you have to deal with when young pitchers come up, and I’m WAY more willing to watch that than a Covey/Despaigne/Homeless Guy From Outside Al’s Beef start.

-Eloy is back, and that’s the best thing that happened Sunday. Odds are Timmy is back Tuesday for the Mets, so that would bring the total dead spots in the Sox lineup down to two. Huzzah!

-Next up is the Mets, who have an even bigger tire fire in their front office than the Sox do.  Unfortunately for us, Syndergaard and deGrom are the 2 potential starters unless Thor is traded (from what I’m reading on the tweets, however, is that the Mets asking price for him involves the Hope Diamond so I think we might be outta luck). Sure would be nice to have a few quality starts from Lopez and Giolito to erase the shit show the post-All Star break start has been.

Baseball

BOX SCORES:

Game 1: White Sox 1 – A’s 5

Game 2: White Sox 2 – A’s 13

Game 3: White Sox 2 – A’s 3

 

Well shit.  That’s not exactly how I would’ve drawn up the start to the second half of the season, but whatever.  The Coliseum has always been a house of horrors for the Sox for as long as I can remember, and this turned out no differently.  The Sox forgot how to hit during the All Star break, and Dylan Covey forgot what the strike zone looked like so he could avoid it with the cookies he was serving up.  All in all it was a pretty shitty weekend of baseball for the Southsiders, and on top of that Brock Lesnar has the goddam title again.  Ugh.

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

– Lets start with the positives, shall we?  Reynaldo Lopez looked pretty damn good today.  Moved his fastball in and out of the zone, located his changeup and slider and basically kept the A’s hitters off balance for most of the day.  I’ll take 6 innings of 1 run ball from him every damn start of the week and twice on Sunday.  He even left with the lead after Eloy launched number 17 to the deepest part of that goddamn canyon they play in.  Granted, Evan Marshall gave that up 3 pitches into the next inning but whatever.

– Luis Robert had about 32 RBIs in his first weekend at AAA and (seriously) started off his career there with a grand slam.  I can hear Rick Hahn practicing mumbling excuses for why he’s not here in September already.

– That’s about it for the positive stuff.  The Sox suddenly turned into a bunch of pool noodle armed weaklings in the first 2 games.  They banged out 17 hits in those 2 games, approximately ZERO of which went for extra bases.  That’s pretty mind boggling right there.  I’m willing to chalk that up as an aberration if you are.

– Dylan Covey flat out sucked to high heaven Saturday.  There’s no other way to put it.  He claimed he was too amped up to be facing his old team, but maybe he’s just not meant to be a starter.  He’d make a great opener, though.  If only there was a cool baseball story this weekend that illustrates how valuable an opener can be to a team with no 5th starter.  Oh well.

– Nova once again gave up too many home runs, which really has been his only problem as of late.  If he can cut down on those, I guess he’d make an OK 4th starter here.  Not gonna hold my breath, however.

– Jose Rondon sucks.  DFA his ass into the sun when Timmy gets back, which hopefully isn’t too far away as he’s apparently begun baseball activities in his rehab back from a high ankle sprain.

– This series sucked, but I’m not going to look too deep into anything.  If the Sox have trouble scoring against the Royals this week and their collection of recycled arms then I may sound the alarm.  Otherwise I’m just going to forget this weekend happened and redact it from the official scoresheet.  Moving on.