Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 3 – Indians 4

Game 2: White Sox 3 – Indians 5

Game 3: White Sox 4 –  Indians 0

 

With the second series for the Sox in the books, some familiar trends are starting to take shape. One good pitching start and two not so great ones, combined with a few…interesting lineup decisions resulted in the Sox dropping 2 of 3 to the Tribe. While the end result is the same, this series at least feels far more positive than the previous thwacking at the hands of the Twins. If you squint really hard, I believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We can discuss further IN THE BULLETS

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

-Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: Nicky Delmonico sucks, and Rick Renteria’s love affair with him is puzzling to the extreme. While I get the desire to mix up the handedness of Sox at bats, in no possible reality is putting him in the cleanup spot an acceptable setup. I don’t care if it’s the 3rd game of a triple header, batting him in front of Luis Robert qualifies as coaching High Crimes and Misdemeanors. If you’re worried about his knees, Yasmani Grandal can still DH in that spot instead of Zack Collins and either put Delmonico at 9 or play Adam Engel. Matchups don’t matter when the guy you’re matching with can’t hit the ball out of the infield. Shit, bat Leury Garcia 4th, at least he’s hit a few dingers.

-Phew. Anyways, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon continued the new Sox rotation tradition of not being able to command their fastballs and getting the piss hit out of them in the first 3 innings. Walks were an issue particularly for Rodon, who loaded the bases with them in the 4th during game 2. While my initial reaction to their two starts was a calm and predictable “FUCKING COOP IS TRASH FIRE HIM AND MAKE ONEY GUILLEN PITCHING COACH,” after watching Lucas Giolito pull himself together in his start last night I retract my previous outburst. This season is weird, and a 3 week wind up for pitchers is clearly not enough to get younger starters ready. If Cease and Rodon struggle again with their command in the next starts they have we can revisit. For now I’m willing to chalk it up to rust.

-The Sox bullpen, on the other hand, was nails in this series. Evan Marshall in particular has been pretty much unhittable thus far, and his breaking pitches have “shit yourself” quality. Aaron Bummer even had a good night on Wednesday, vulturing the win after pitching a scoreless 8th. Colome made it interesting in the 9th, but eventually locked down his first save of the new season. More of this, please.

-In true Sox fashion however, we can’t continue to just have nice things in the bullpen. Jimmy Lambert went on the 10 day IL with a “forearm strain,” which for someone returning from Tommy John surgery is never a good thing to hear. Hopefully it really IS just a strain and not a herald of something much much worse.

-While looking at the box scores it would seem that the Sox bats failed against some less than quality pitching, the Indians D had something to do with it as well. Oscar Mercado absolutely robbed Zack Collins of what should have been an RBI triple in the 8th inning of game 2. The Sox also threatened in the 9th in both games of the double header, falling just short. I’m not super concerned about the offense…yet.

-Being 2-4 after the first two series is less than optimal, but looking around the league you can see that shit is super weird right now. The Giants took 2 of 4 with the Dodgers, the Tigers are 4-2 and the fucking Orioles (the team actively trying to get worse) is .500. Yes, 60 games is very short and you can’t fall too far behind but I’m not convinced what we’re seeing around the league at this moment is genuinely how it’s gonna go the entire season. If we even get to finish a whole season, which is questionable at best.

-Next up is the exactly what the doctor ordered, the Royals. With the potential debut of Nomar Mazara sending Delmonico back to the utility role where he belongs combined with Dallas Keuchel taking the bump, Friday SHOULD go a long way in putting some perspective on the first 6 games. If we’re in the same spot Sunday as we are today…the panic button may have to be smushed.

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 10 – Sox 5

Game 2: Twins 3 – Sox 10

Game 3: Twins 14 – Sox 2

 

 

Where to begin? The first series of an abbreviated season finds the White Sox with  1-2 record looking up at the Twins, Indians and Tigers(?!) after the pitching staff got pummeled to the tune of 27 runs in 3 games leaving the team with a cool 9.00 ERA. Reynaldo Lopez left Sunday’s game in the 1st inning with shoulder tightness, and my beautiful boy Eloy left shortly thereafter when he crashed into the LF fence attempting to track down a Nick Cave (sigh) grand slam. While this was a very inauspicious start to a season where the Sox have deigns on a playoff berth all was not totally terrible. For one thing, the Sox don’t see the Twins and their orbital battle station offense again until the end of August so there’s plenty of time for the team ERA to come back to earth. To the bullets!

 

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-Let’s start with the most pressing issue: Nicky Delmonico is probably not a major league starter in even the furthest stretch of your imagination. He went 0-9 with 3 strikeouts and managed to overthrow multiple cutoff men slow pitch softball style on Sunday. More damning for him was that in limited time Adam Engel went 4-6 against mostly right handed pitching and is automatically a defensive upgrade over everyone not named Luis Robert in the outfield. Leury Garcia will be in RF full time when the team stops fucking with Nick Madrigal’s service time, but until that happens I think Engel has earned the right to start. His last  month of the 2019 season carried a .286/.314/.571 slash line with a couple of dingers. It’s time.

-Speaking of Leury Garcia, his start at 2B on Friday night didn’t endear himself to anyone when his failure to turn an easy double play turned into 5 runs for the Twins. He completely redeemed himself with 2 dingers the next day, however, proving that baseball truly is a fickle mistress. He’ll be even better when he’s in right field so Robert doesn’t have to go line to line and play the entire outfield by himself.

-Since we brought him up, Luis Robert had himself an excellent first series. The first MLB pitch he saw in his career he roped a single to LF that had an exit velocity of 115.8 mph. He finished the night 2-4 adding a double. With Saturday being a little forgettable at the plate, Sunday he bombed his first career home run to dead center field off Kenta Maeda. That one merely had an exit velo of 114.4 mph. He also can run down pretty much anything in center field. The kid can not only play, he can fucking roll. It’s gonna be fun to watch.

-As mentioned above, the Sox pitching staff didn’t exactly slather themselves in glory this weekend with the exception of Dallas Keuchel. He kept the Twins bats off the board until the 6th inning Saturday, leaving the game with 2 on base. Steve Cishek promptly tacked them onto Keuchel’s ERA, serving up a cookie to Nelson Cruz that he did not miss. Other than that little blip Keuchel looked very solid, proving himself a great addition to a rotation that suddenly needs it.

-With a shitload of runs being scored across the league this weekend it’s pretty obvious that the 3 week mini camp was not enough to get most major league pitchers not named Bieber up to speed. I’m not super worried about Lucas Giolito yet, but a good start against the Tribe on Wednesday would alleviate a lot of that tension.

-Yoan Moncada dominated Twins pitching the first two games, which makes Renteria’s decision to give him the day off Sunday particularly puzzling, especially with a precious off day after the series against the Indians. If you don’t want him playing the field after returning from COVID that’s fine, but statistically speaking you’d rather have his slash line up there against Maeda than Jose Abreu’s.

-Next up is the team the Sox will be battling with the rest of the way for the expanded playoff spot, the Indians. Giolito and Bieber on Wednesday should be a good time, and the Sox should be able to take 2 of 3 against a team that’s not on the same offensive plane of existence as the Twins. Get it done, and move on to the Royals.