Baseball

VS

RECORDS: White Sox 1-2 / Indians 2-1

START TIMES: Mon/Tues 6:10, Wed 5:10

TV: NBCSCH

Too High? What Do You Mean Too High?:   Let’s Go Tribe

 

PROBABLE STARTERS:

Monday: Dylan Cease vs. Aaron Civale

Tuesday: Carlos Rodon vs. Zach Plesac

Wednesday: Lucas Giolito vs. Shane Bieber

 

So after the orbital strike from Nelson Cruz and company this weekend, the Sox pitching staff looks to right the ship versus another sold offensive team (though not to the extent of the Twins). The Tribe come into this series after taking two of three from the moribund Royals on opening weekend. While Cleveland dropped 9 on the heads of the Royals on Sunday, the other two days saw them fight to scratch across 2 runs against the legendary KC rotation. On the pitching side of things the Cleveland Triumvirate of Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, and Carlos Carrasco made short work of the Royals bats, only giving up 2 runs between the 3 of them, to go along with 30 (!) strikeouts. Fortunately for the Sox they miss 2/3rds of them, only having to deal with The Biebs on Wednesday.

The offense of the Tribe is still fired by Francisco Lindor (at least until they don’t pay him and he ends up in pinstripes), who along with Jose Ramirez and the rapidly aging Carlos Santana provide most of the pop from the middle of the order. Ramirez had a rough year in 2019, with a steep drop in both his batting average and Slugging percentages from the previous season. His .806 OPS was the lowest since 2015, before his first full season in the league. On the flip side, Santana had an excellent year in 2019 posting a .911 OPS to go along with 34 dingers and 92 RBI. While he continues to slow down on the basepaths and is no longer a viable option behind the dish, Santana is still a force at the plate and his ability to hit for pop from both sides should be something Sox pitching (and Rick Renteria) should keep in mind.

For the Sox, the main storyline is still the 9.00 team ERA heading into this series. While there were a few bright spots over the weekend (Keuchel, Lambert and Marshall to name a few), the bad hovered over the heads of the rotation like a Lucas Giolito fastball exiting the stratosphere. Dylan Cease and the freshly elbow-ed Carlos Rodon get their chance to erase the bad memories of the weekend as they take the bump Monday and Tuesday. The bullpen would appreciate them lasting at least 5 innings each, as the workload thrust upon them Friday and Sunday is not conductive to long term health.

On the offensive side of the field, the Sox are in pretty good shape unless Eloy is still dizzy from running into the LF fence yesterday. If he is unable to go, get ready for an outfield that features Luis Robert (that’s good!), Nicky Delmonico (that’s bad), and Potassium Benzoate (that’s Engel). Can I go now? Yoan Moncada should be in the lineup all 3 games, as all 3 starters are righties and we saw this weekend that he hasn’t missed a step in punishing them. I would also hope Grandal would be hitting in all three as well, giving the Sox 4 lefties to counter the Tribe’s starters.

Realistically there’s no reason the Sox shouldn’t be able to take 2 of 3 here, as the Tribe struggled to find hits against the likes of Brady Singer and Danny Duffey (both of whom are less than Cease and Rodon, though Singer may have a future). If they’re able to neutralize 2 of the 3 hitters mentioned above the Sox bats should be able to provide sufficent offense to propel them to the series win and a good palate cleanse after Sunday’s debacle. The pitching matchup Wednesday could be fun, but only if Giolito finds the command of his fastball. If he’s back to what he was in 2019, the game could be over before the sun goes down.

Of course, none of this will matter if MLB shuts down because of the fucking Miami Marlins and the Rona Party they probably had with a bunch of Philly strippers over the weekend. Why is it ALWAYS Florida?

 

Let’s Go Sox

 

Baseball

As we continue around the diamond we come to one of the more exciting (and divisive) players the Sox employ to patrol their infield, Tim Anderson.

In a season where Rick Hahn really needed some pieces of The Future™ to break out and give the rebuild a nice new glossy shine, Tim Anderson stepped up and not only gave Hahn a success story (along with Yoan and a few others), but the White Sox organization a face and an attitude they can market the living shit out of if they do it right.

While this might not need saying, I’m a complete mark for Tim Anderson. He’s exciting, speaks his mind, and plays with the kind of flash and fire that hasn’t been on the team since Ozzie Guillen left for South Beach. There is something very Pro Wrestling about Tim, and that’s probably a big reason I find myself drawn to his play. I mean, this quote is basically cutting a promo on the entire “Old School” belief system in MLB. It’s badass:

If you can’t get behind this type of swagger in professional sports, then you haven’t been paying attention the past decade. Baseball is supposed to be fun, and this is the definition of that.

2019 Stats

.335/.357/.508

2.9 BB% 21.0 K%

18 HR 56 RBI 86 R

.363 wOBA 130 wRC+ 3.5 WAR

Outs Above Average: -1

 

Last Week On Nitro: 2019 saw a career year at the plate for Timmy, with a .335 batting average and a .508 slugging percentage at the end of the year. Oh, and he also won the AL batting title, making him the first White Sox player to hold that crown since Big Frank did it the year I graduated high school (1997. Yeah, I’m old). Despite all of the above, questions still remain about Timmy. While the .335 batting average was amazing, the .357 OBP was somewhat less than stellar. With his BABIP at a pretty unsustainable .399, the question isn’t “IF” the regression is coming for his average, it’s “how much will it be”?

Defensively, Tim committed quite a few errors last year. His 26 total lead all shortstops last season, which is bad. What’s even worse is he missed almost a month and a half with an ankle injury suffered at the shitbox Fenway Park on a soggy infield, so those 26 errors could’ve ended up being a much higher number. The advanced metrics don’t like him either, ranking him 21st in defensive production in 2019 with an UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of -9.1.

All is not lost defensively, however. The new defensive stat created by Baseball Savant in conjunction with MLB and Statcast takes into account the difficulty of plays and the distance needed to travel to make said plays (For a good primer on the stat, click here). The league average for fielders is set at zero, and the more positive the number the better, and the more negative number is worse. For comparison, last season Javy Baez was best in the league at short with a +19, while Jorge Polanco was dead last with a -18. Tim Anderson fell just below league average at a -1. What this tells me is that Tim is an extremely athletic shortstop with great range and occasionally poor throw making decisions, which is exactly what the eye test shows.

TOO SWEET! (WHOOP WHOOP): Best case scenario for Timmy is that his BABIP only drops about .030 points, and all of the work he talked about putting in on his defense in the off-season bears fruit and he ends up a league average or better shortstop in the AL. For someone who is clearly as gifted as Tim is athletically this is not something that’s pie in the sky wishful thinking.

A Tim Anderson that hits .290/.310/.480 is going to be a monster in this lineup, which will be even stronger with him hitting in the 7 hole and not leading off like Ricky Renteria seems to think is the best course of action right now. Once Nick Madrigal is fully armed and operational at the big league level, this is gonna be where Timmy ends up. He’s never going to be a big OBP guy, and that’s absolutely fine. Being picky about pitch selection has never been his forte, and I wouldn’t risk changing it just to up his walk total at the expense of his power numbers.

I’d also like to think that him and Moncada will have more of a green light this year, so a 20/20 year is within reach if everything breaks his way. His base stealing acumen has always been more based on his athleticism than any particular feel for the art of it, but much like his OBP…who gives a shit if it works? Having a 20/20 guy hitting in the bottom third of your lineup in a best case scenario is the kind of shit that should give Jake Odorizzi and his pool noodle arm night sweats.

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: This one is pretty self explanatory: Tim’s BABIP falls off a cliff and his numbers completely tank, resulting in the type of season that is much more Alex Cintron than Francisco Lindor. His OBP stays the same, or even drops some and you’re left with a slash line that looks something like this: .225/.252/.388. On top of that big pile of smoldering shit, his D continues to slide and he goes from slightly below league average to total liability.

Then you’re left with the younger more expensive version of Orlando Arcia except with a longer contract term. Meanwhile just to rub salt into the wound, Fernando Tatis Jr. wins the triple crown while leading the Padres to a wild card berth where they upset the Brewers in the 1st round and shock the baseball world by sending the Dodgers out on their collective asses before winning the world series. In addition, the world is dealt a glancing blow by a meteor, which knocks the planet off it’s axis sending us into a 2nd ice age. Also Brooklyn 99 is canceled and Big Bang Theory comes back.

BAH GAWD THAT’S ANDERSON’S MUSIC!: My prediction for Tim this season is this: .272/.308/.461 with 19 dingers and 82 RBI. He’s going to be a +2 Outs Above Average, and steal 18 bases while scoring 90 runs for the Sox.

Renteria is going to stubbornly keep him in the leadoff spot even after Nick Madrigal makes it to the Show, and Luis Robert starts the year on a tear, batting .309. Eventually he’ll come to his senses (around June) and put Tim back in the #7 spot where he will thrive, knocking in 58 of his 82 RBIs.

There will also be plenty more of stuff like this

And This:

And This:

Because baseball is going to be fun again.

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: Indians 92-64   White Sox 68-87

GAMETIMES: Tuesday-Thursday 7:10

TV: WGN Tuesday, NBCSN Wednesday/Thursday

THEY’RE STILL SHITTY: Let’s Go Tribe

PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts & Pitching Staffs

Indians Spotlight: Could Frankie Lindor go?

The White Sox begin the last homestand of the season, and half of it will be against a team that still has a lot on the table. So while it’s not games that matter for them, they can play a “spoiler” role, if that indeed matters to players. This seems like a bunch it might to. Sadly, their rotation is on the spoiled side already.

With Lucas Giolito being shut down for the year, the Sox will have a bullpen game or two in here, sending out Hector Santiago and Ross Detweiler and then diving behind the couch. Dylan Cease will get a chance on Thursday to make it look like an actual baseball game. Meanwhile, the Indians have their two big guns of Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber lined up for this, with Clevinger available for Sunday and Bieber ready to go for any wildcard game.

As that’s what’s on offer for Cleveland. They sit a half-game behind the Rays for the right to go to Oakland next Wednesday, and they have the extra game to play, which comes Thursday. They’ll finish in DC, which could be an issue as the Nationals are playing for the same thing in the other league. But they might have it wrapped up by then, and the Indians could get three games against an opponent twiddling its thumbs and keeping powder dry for the coin-flip.

Right now the schedule is in Cleveland’s favor, as the Rays have two home dates with the Yankees, and the Yanks still chasing the AL’s best record to not have to deal with the noise in Houston a fourth time (which got them just two years ago). But that could flip at the weekend with the Rays getting the long-dead Jays and as mentioned the Tribe heading to the capital.

It’s kind of a miracle the Indians are still here. They lost Jose Ramirez a month ago, though he’s starting to make noise like he could come up for air in the season’s last week even though it was thought a broken hand would end his season. The same malady definitely has ended Jason Kipnis‘s season, who was having something of a revival season but now is on the shelf. They’ve parsed out the responsibility, but the big hand should probably go to Franmil Reyes over the past month. After his trade to The Land he was simply lost, but over the past 30 days has lit up with a 130 wRC+.  The rest of the lineup has been average or better, so it’s mostly been a death by 1000 cuts sort of thing.

Civale and Adam Plutko have saved them in the rotation with Kluber nowhere and Carrasco only just coming back in the pen. But he got whatever the rest of the pen has got the past month, as it’s been gasoline out there in September.

You certainly wouldn’t fancy seeing the Indians in a five-game series, except if they have to blow Bieber and possibly more in the coin-flip and only have Clevinger for more than one start. And considering how gettable the pen has been, they might be the same rollover belly-tickle they’ve been in the first round since their WS appearance in ’16.

Still, for the Pale Hose it’s at least better to play a game with stakes in the last week than when the Tigers show up for the two of them to perform some elaborate funeral interpretive dance. Cleveland is still a team the Sox will have to get by next year, and throwing some bombs at them in their chase this one at least sets a precedent. This used to be a rivalry. It can be again.

Baseball

It’ a little disjointed, or even unfair, to connect the Cubs to this series and the Indians. But as we propel into Chicago baseball’s harsh winter, one has to ask this question. If it’s possible that the Cubs would listen, and even consider, trading Kris Bryant this winter, will the Indians do the same with Francisco Lindor? No, of course not, you dope. Because he’s kind of half the offense at the moment and probably will remain that way. Or would they?

Lindor is in the same contract situation as Bryant, and has shown the same inclination to sign an extension with the Tribe that Bryant has with the Cubs. He’s got two years of arbitration left, which should see him inch pretty close to if not over $20M in the second year. And unlike the Cubs, Cleveland may just decide they simply can’t afford him as a free agent, instead of simply won’t. Then again, any team can afford him.

It’s been something of a strange campaign for Frankie, as he looked set for stratospheric stardom last year and hasn’t matched that. He was a seven-WAR player last year, but won’t get to five this term. In fact, it shapes up to be his worst season since his rookie year, when he only played 99 games. And offensively, it’s his worst since his second.

Part of the problem is that Lindor’s power just hasn’t risen with the rest of baseball. He’s still got 31 homers, which for a shortstop you’d take every damn time. But he had 38 last year, and now they’re using the flubber-ball, and he’s got 31. His slugging has only risen eight points to .527, which again, no one is complaining about, and would be a career-high. And yet, with everything going on in the league, you wonder if it shouldn’t have ticked up more.

It doesn’t seem to be a question of luck. Lindor’s BABIP has actually gone up this year, and he has the same exact HR/FB rate as last year. He’s hitting the ball just as hard as well, it’s just more of it is on the ground by a good measure.

Part of the problem is that Lindor has been more consistently attacked with offspeed pitches this year, and has struggled mightily against change-ups. He’s hit only .240 against them this year as opposed to .308 in ’18. And he’s been just as bad on curveballs, though he had that problem last year as well. He’s also seen a 10-point jump in his whiffs/swing on sliders.

As a left-handed hitter, Lindor has seen his walk-rate plummet to 5%, sinking his overall one. He just isn’t getting on base quite as much as he did.

All that said, Lindor is still one of the game’s best, and just about anyone would give up the moon to have him (Javy Baez must dream of the double play combination, and we do as well). Cleveland has never had a reputation for keeping its stars since the 90s. And two years of control means Lindor is at his peak value this coming winter, especially as he’ll be just 26 next season.

But would they consider such a thing? Depends. The rotation actually seems set for a while with Clevinger and Bieber at the top of it and developed plugs like Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale. Corey Kluber‘s injury problems, age, and contract status have lowered his value a touch, though with $17M and $18M options still left he’s still good value if he can get back to anything close to what he was. We know the Tribe listened last offseason, but didn’t find anything to their liking.

The Tribe have a bats problem though, especially as they may never know what they’ll get out of Jose Ramirez from day-to-day, much less year-to-year. But he’s signed cheap through 2023. Will Jake Bauers help one day? Naquin? No one’s sure. Clearly Lindor would bring back two or three major pieces, and probably ones Major League-ready.

But still, it seems way too drastic. He’s the face of the team, and the Tribe don’t draw as it is. Or maybe that’s the reasoning. No one gives a fuck anyway, so how much worse can it get? Still, Lindors are never traded for equal value.

If Cleveland laughs at the idea of moving Lindor, and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise, it’s patently ridiculous the Cubs aren’t doing the same over Bryant.

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: White Sox 14-18   Cleveland 18-14

GAMETIMES: Monday-Wednesday 5:10

TV: NBCSN Monday-Wednesday 

THEY’RE STILL SHITTY: Let’s Go Tribe

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Ivan Nova vs. Trevor Bauer

Lucas Giolito vs. Jefry Rodriguez

Reynaldo Lopez vs. Shane Bieber

WHITE SOX PROBABLE LINEUP

Leury Garcia – CF

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – 1B

Yonder Alonso – DH

James McCann – C

Nicky Delmonico – LF

Tim Anderson – SS

Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

Charlie Tilson – RF

CLEVELAND PROBABLE LINEUP

Francisco Lindor – SS

Jason Kipnis – 2B

Jose Ramirez – 3B

Carlos Santana – 1B

Carlos Gonzalez – LF

Jake Bauers – DH

Jordan Luplow – CF

Tyler Naquin – RF

Roberto Perez – C

 

After two consecutive self-immolations against the Carmines, along with three straight losses after a pretty satisfying walk-off win against the title-holders, the White Sox escape town and head to the familiar environs of The Jake. There they’ll find a Cleveland team that is no longer on the AL Central throne as had been custom, and one that has a few too many guys in the infirmary.

The big issues for the Tribe is that two-fifths of their rotation (three if you count Danny Salazar, but that’s iffy) is on the DL and not for a short time either. Mike Clevinger is out until at least June with a back-iotomy, and Cory Kluber has forearm-knack after taking a liner off of it. He’s out at least a month, and could be longer. That has slotted Jefry Rodriguez and Cody Anderson into the rotation, which is clearly a downgrade.

Sadly, the rotation is still being held together somewhat by professional butthead Trevor Bauer, though he is riding the good side of the BABIP Dragon and any market correction on that .221 mark could be violent. He’s giving up line-drives far more than he did last year, and you know about the Cleveland outfield defense. Carlos Carrasco is on the other side of the coin, seeing a 5.00+ ERA even though he’s striking out over 12 hitters per nine innings while walking less than two. You could easily argue that both of their market corrections will even out.

They’ve needed everything they can get out of the starters, because the offense has not clicked into gear at all. In fact, it’s shambolic. Jose Ramirez is hitting .200. Lindor is hitting .229. Jason Kipnis has a 24 wRC+, and he’s been forced into the lineup. Only Carlos Santana is going up to the plate with something other than a side of beef. And with the power show the Twins are putting up, Cleveland is not going anywhere if Lindor and Ramirez at least don’t get back to their MVP-form of yesteryear and probably get some help.

It’s not the funk out of the pen these days either as it used to be. Closer Brad Hand (and his rad band) has been excellent, but beyond that it’s been iffy, though of late old war horses Tyler Clippard and Oliver Perez, along with Adam Cimber, have straightened that out.

The Sox will try and relocate their offense, which produced four runs over the last three games against the BoSox. Hey, sometimes Chris Sale will do that to you but you shouldn’t be getting it up your giggy by Rick Porcello. Ivan Nova against this lineup is probably the definition of a taffy pull, but if he’s going to get right against anyone this would seem to be the time. And hey, two weeks against the Erie Warriors and Blue Jays is better than the Astros and Twins, which await after this.