Baseball

Now to the last of the starting pitchers, the guy who I thought was going to be a depth starter and a placeholder for Dylan Cease at the start of the year, and ended up leading the Sox in innings pitched after Carlos Rodon’s elbow evaporated and Lucas Giolito got shut down early in September. All things considering, Nova earned his paycheck this year, despite a very shaky start.

2019 Stats

34 Starts  187 Innings

11-12 Record

4.72 ERA  4.98 FIP

114 Ks  47 BB

5.49 K/9  2.29 BB/9  1.45 WHIP

2.0 WAR

 

Tell Me A Story: The Sox and Rick Hahn traded for Nova back in December of 2018 during the winter meetings. They sent 19 year old Yordi Rosario and $500,000 international bonus pool money to the Pirates for Nova and his $8.5 million in what was essentially a salary dump for Pittsburgh.

At the time I was intrigued by the move, as it really didn’t cost the Sox anything in the way of immediate assets and provided what Don Cooper loves best: a reclamation project with good stuff but no real sustained success. Nova was an international signee of the Yankees way back in 2004 when he was a teen in the Dominican Republic. He debuted in 2010 for the Yanks, and quickly turned heads in 2011 and 12 when he went a combined 28-12 in his first two full seasons.

After that, the consistency waned considerably the rest of his tenure with the Yankees and he finished with them in 2015 with a 5 ERA and a 6-11 record. He was traded to the Pirates thereafter and the consistency issues followed him West. Last year he had his best run in a Bucs uniform with a 9-9 record and a 4.14 ERA on a less than stellar team.

His first few weeks with the Sox were…less than inspiring. His first 9 starts saw him net a 2-4 record with a 7.12 ERA. He wasn’t really walking many or giving up a lot of dingers, his stuff wasn’t being located very well and that shit was getting hit all over the place.

After Carlos Rodon went down with his elbow issue, however, something clicked into place for Nova and he went on a pretty solid if not excellent run. Through the heat of the summer months he was locked in, starting 19 games and going 7-7 with a surprising 3.28 ERA. The true highlight was his start against the Cubs, holding them to 5 hits in the start, walking 1 while striking out 5 and getting an assist from Eloy with another bombshot into dead center that bounced off the fan deck and gave the Sox a 2 run lead Nova would keep safe.

If you take out the first 6 weeks of the season, Nova had a good year for someone who would be a 5th starter on most other average teams with a 3.80 ERA and a 9-8 record. Something that many teams would gladly take out of the 5 hole in their starting rotation. Unfortunately for the Sox, after Rodon went down Nova was more like the #2 starter with the inconsistencies of Reynaldo Lopez, the Rookie-ness of Dylan Cease and the absolute fucking black hole that was whatever started on the 5th day.

All in all, I would say that this was $8.5 million well spent on a guy who was acquired to be a 5th starter and ended up leading the team in innings pitched. Nova doesn’t strike a lot of people out, but he keeps the walks down and when effective keeps the ball in the park. You could (and the Sox did…hello Dylan Covey!) do much worse.

Contract: Made $8.5 million in 2019, the last year of his deal. Unrestricted free agent in 2020.

Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: As well as Nova performed this season in the position he was put in by the Sox, he’s just not going to be necessary next year. His spot in the rotation will most likely be filled by Reynaldo Lopez as Michael Kopech, Gerrit Cole (Hi Fels!) Dylan Cease and Lucas Giolito take the other spots with Carlos Rodon and his rehab waiting in the wings. Thanks for your help in making this summer a little more watchable, Ivan. Best of luck to you in Toronto.

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Royals 3 – Sox 7

Game 2: Royals 8 – Sox 6

Game 3: Royals 6 – Sox 3

 

Man, the Sox sure are going to make it tough on me to keep up my sunny outlook on the rest of the season. After starting this series out on such a positive note, the Sox forgot the one axiom every team should have when playing the 2019 Kansas City Royals: Don’t Leave Shit Over The Plate For Soler To Nuke Into Orbit. You’d think by now most teams would’ve figured it out, but as Soler creeps ever closer to 50 dongs on the season I guess everybody is just gonna keep pressing their luck. Good lord when he connects with the ball it goes a long way.

It was actually pretty fun  watching Eloy and Soler go back and forth this series. Between the two of them, they accounted for 14 of the 23 runs knocked in this series. 60% of the runs! That’s pretty nuts. For the foreseeable future, that’s pretty much how the Royals are going to need to win games, and it worked out swimmingly for them this series. All told, the White Sox winning one was enough to wrap up the season series in their favor, but not nearly as satisfying an ending as I was hoping for.

To The Bullets

 

THE POWER OF POSITIVITY

-As mentioned above, Eloy had himself a series. His first career grand slam on Tuesday night, a 3 run shot on Wednesday night and another few RBIs thrown in for good measure. That brings him up to 26 on the season, with 68 RBI to go along with it. For comparison, Yoan Moncada at this point last season had 17 HR and 56 RBI. Right now he’s slashing .299/.357.508 with 23 HR and 69 RBI (NICE). Do I think Eloy will have the same progression as Yoan? Probably not, but it’s not out of the question. If he happens along the same climb statistically speaking the middle of the Sox order is gonna be something to behold.

-Lucas Giolito struck out 8 Royals in a row today, setting a new record for White Sox pitching on his way to 12 total Ks today. He made some mistakes as well, and this was one of those days where mistakes got pummeled, but overall it’s just a blip on his radar.

-Tim Anderson didn’t have a great series, but he managed 2 hits and kept his lead atop the AL batting list, thanks to DJ Lemahieu going 0 for 6 today. It’s gonna be a race to the finish, and hopefully Timmy can keep focused on opposing pitching and not get distracted.

-The Sox bullpen fared pretty well against KC this week, only giving up 2 earned runs (both charged to Carson Fulmer) in 9.2 innings pitched. This is a nice turnaround from last week where the Angels feasted on them. More please.

-Ivan Nova started out pretty shakily but settled down and came 1 out away from another quality start. Much like the other two starters in this series, the Royals were able to knock dingers off him, but they were of the solo variety so no real harm done.

-Next up is a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a battle with another team in the middle of a rebuild. It will be interesting to see who the Sox throw out there as a 5th starter. Fingers crossed it’s not Covey…I’m trying to stay positive.

Baseball

vs.

 

Records: Twins 76-48   White Sox 55-68

Gametimes: Monday/Tuesday 7:10, Wednesday 12:10

TV: Monday WGN, Tuesday/Wednesday NBCSN

Where The Wild Things Are: Puckett’s Pond

 

Ugh, these assholes again.

Since the last meeting between these two teams (in which the Twins took three of four from the Sox) life has been somewhat of a mixed bag for the Towering Terror of the Twin Cities. After winning the series against the Sox, the Twins took two of three from Miami and swept the Royals. All good, right? Well then the Braves came to town and took the series against them, then shortly thereafter Cleveland showed up and not only took three of four, but tied them for 1st place in the Central in a Sunday afternoon matchup that saw Carlos Santana plunge the dagger in Taylor Rogers heart with a walk off grand slam in extra innings that wiped out a nice Twins comeback in the bottom of the 9th.

Unfortunately the dagger wasn’t made of silver, because since then the Twins have won five of six, including a four game sweep of the Rangers this past weekend and have retaken first place from the Tribe (who now sit 2.5 games behind). They just won’t die. The Twins still sit at 4th best in the AL for hitting, having fallen behind the Yankees only because the Yankees played the Orioles seven times so far in August alone. The Twins still inexplicably lead the entire league in slugging percentage at .499, almost a full .010 ahead of the second place Yankees. The fact that they’re able to power the ball so much when they play so many games in their stadium with the cavernous outfield is even more impressive. Marwin Gonzalez has caught fire after a slow start, having hit .362 since the page flipped to August. Max Kepler continues to hit for power, mashing 10 taters since he last saw the Sox. Byron Buxton is still on the IL with a laundry list of maladies, this time with his shoulder. It’s severe enough that the Twins aren’t expecting him back until at least the beginning of September.

The rotation for the Twins is still scuffling a bit as Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios both have seen their respective ERAs rise more than a point in the month of August. Michael Pineda has returned from his stint on the IL and righted the ship, having only given up 11 runs since the beginning of July, and despite his peripherals looking hilariously bad Jake Odorizzi has a 2.08 ERA so far this month and managed to shut down the Tribe in their only win that series.

The Twins bullpen has been a mixed bag since trading for some fresh faces at the deadline. Former closer now LOOGY Sergio Romo has appeared in nine games and given up three runs in that span, all in one game against the Braves. The other big acquisition Sam Dyson has gotten shelled out of the gate with his new team, giving up seven runs in 3.1 innings. In addition to that, closer Taylor Rogers hasn’t been as sharp as he was in May and June. He got charged with the loss against the Indians mentioned above and blew two other saves since the trade deadline. With Dyson being so shaky his job seems safe for the time being, however.

As for the Sox, they seem to have corrected the offensive malaise that infected them throughout the entire series with Oakland, having pounded out 40 runs in their last seven games. Ivan Nova has continued his excellent run since the All-Star break, having only given up 12 earned runs in 53 innings since the beginning of July. This has included some starts against pretty stalwart offenses like Houston, Philly, Cubs, and these Twins. I’ve said since the beginning that Nova would be a fine 5th starter on a contending team, and he’s making his case to stick around to see that possibility. The Sox will also toss out Lopez and Giolito, both of whom have had pretty good success since the break.

The key to this series is the same as it was against Houston last week. The starters need to keep the Twins big bats off the board, and the offense take advantage of a middling bullpen where they can. It’s looking like Yoan Moncada will be back for this series after his rehab stint in Charlotte, which will be a nice boost both offensively and defensively. Having him and Leury Garcia back in the lineup will make the Sox offense as potent as it’s been all year. Well, at least until Luis Robert gets here in a few weeks. Fuck the Twins, take two of three from them.

Lets Go Sox!

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Sox 2 – Astros 6

Game 2: Sox 4 – Astros 1

Game 3: Sox 13 – Astros 9

 

 

Raise your hand if you thought the Sox would win the season series against the best team in baseball by taking 4 out of the 7 games and scoring 33 total runs against them. Bullshit, put your arm back down and go sit in the back. Well, if nothing else the Sox like to make me look stupid (not a hard thing to do, but still) after I fretted about the Astros raining death down upon them this series. Granted the Sox got a little lucky with Gerrit Cole exploding his hammy in the bullpen before game 2, and Alex Bregman not being able to go at all on Tuesday night, but you know what? Credit where it’s due, the Sox took advantage of all of that and came away with a pretty solid series win all told.  Sometimes baseball is weird, sometimes it’s stupid, and sometimes it’s pretty damn fun. Then sometimes it’s all 3 of those things and the Sox take the season series from the AL’s best team.

LET ME IN

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-Let’s start with the Sox pitching, shall we? Dylan Cease went game one and took the only loss of all the starters, which includes Ross Detwiler (remember when I said baseball was stupid?). Despite getting hung with the L and walking more people than he struck out, this might have been his best outing in awhile. He gave up a leadoff bomb to George Springer, then a single to Altuve and a double to Michael Brantley (remember when the Sox didn’t want him in the off season?) to bring up Yordan Alvarez. Renteria got all galaxy-brained and issued the intentional pass to him, bringing up Yuli Gurriel, who bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. He gave up another solo shot in the 3rd to Altuve, then proceeded to retire 11 Astros in a row before Wellington Castillo did his best Benny Hill impersonation behind the plate, allowing 12 passed balls and letting the game get out of hand. I don’t mind the 5 walks Cease issued (2 of which were of the intentional variety), as nobody works the zone better or strikes out less than the Astros. This was a building block start for Cease, no doubt about it. I’m excited to see where he goes from here.

-Ivan Nova went the distance and gave up 1 unearned run to the best offense in baseball (remember when I said baseball was weird sometimes?). He kept the ball down all night, threw first pitch strikes, and kept the Astros hitters on their heels. This will probably last long enough for Hahn to give him an extension, then he’ll turn back into a pumpkin. For now though, I’m gonna enjoy the ride in the new Chevy Nova.

-Tim Anderson had a Tuesday night to forget, going 0-8 and committing 2 errors in the field, one of which was the only run the Astros scored in the second game. Tim tried using his athletic ability instead of setting his feet and threw the ball about 8 rows deep over Matt Skole’s head. He didn’t let it get him down today, however. He went 4 for 5 with 2 doubles and a triple. More please!

-Eloy hit a ball 6,000 feet today and knocked a dude unconscious who was drinking a Modelo on the fan deck. The best part was Jake Marisnick going back to the wall and making a jump at the ball, only to have it land about 40 feet past and 20 feet up from him. Smooth.

-Don’t look now, but Jose Abreu may be heating up again, going 6-11 with 4 RBI and more importantly 2 walks. Just in time for Yoan Moncada to come back and give him some space. It also helps when…

-James McCann decides to drop it like its May again, going 4-9 with the series clinching grand slam on an 0-2 count from a hanging slider off legit shutdown reliever Ryan Pressly. He doesn’t make mistakes to right handed hitters very often, and McCann made him pay dearly for it. Awesome stuff.

-Ryan Goins can stay when Nick Madrigal and Luis Robert finally get called up. I’m kinda done with Yolmer.

-Next up is a 4 hour plane ride out to sunny California to visit Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Disneyland. Bastards will probably get to ride all the new Star Wars rides before I do. Let’s see if the Sox can build on this great series or if they slide right back into the Sarlacc Pit.

ONWARD

 

 

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 Box Score: White Sox 4, Phillies 3 (15)

Game 2 Box Score: Phillies 3, White Sox 2

Game 3 Box Score: White Sox 10, Phillies 5

No matter where the Sox rebuild goes, how long it takes, Sox fans will have the night that it took two innings to get a position player pitching, got a runner thrown out at home from left by another pitcher, and nearly completed the feat again in the 15th. The Phillies basically waved the white flag on that game, and it still took the Sox a couple attempts to accept the surrender. That’s the good stuff.

In the end, the Sox have only muddled the NL East/Wildcard picture more by getting swept the Mets but then going on the road taking two of three from the Phillies. Also, the Phillies are a goddamn mess. They can’t hit, two-fifths of their rotation is now in the pen, and their manager might be a lunatic. But then when is anything with the Phillies ever sane?

Let’s clean this one up too.

-The Sox got another decent start from Ivan Nova, which now seems like a waste. Nova didn’t pitch well enough soon enough to be flipped for anything useful at the deadline, and now one wonders if those starts and innings could go to anyone who might be here when the Sox are playing games that matter again. Cease is already up, There really isn’t anyone else. Guess you just enjoy the show.

-The offense is still a tough watch without Moncada. They put up 10 runs off scrapheap rescue Drew Smyly, yes, but a sweep was possible and 15 innings weren’t necessary on Friday.

Which means a little talk about Eloy Jimenez. Parroting what Joe Sheehan had to say in his newsletter, but Eloy came up in the 8th last night against Nick Pivetta with a chance to win the game, and Pivetta never more than a couple pitches away from self-immolation. And Eloy never had a chance. He swung at three curves he didn’t come within a foot of, and that’s happened too often. There is still all the potential in the world, but a .294 OBP is what it is. He gets enough walks, and that will improve more, but there are times when you have to get the bat on the ball. He’s a long way from that yet.

-Shouldn’t the Phillies be better than this? They only have three hitters you need to worry about, and Harper is barely qualifying as that right now as the Sox got him out in every big situation they needed to, other than his one homer. There are a lot of outs on this team, there’s only one starter you fear now that Eflin became ash, and the pen is a mess too. Not one functioning unit here?

-When Ryan Goins is taking your best ABs, you know that’s a problem.

-James McCann dropped to 7th in the lineup on Sunday, though with Ricky Renteria that might be what he thinks is cleanup considering how long Tim Anderson was there. It’s been a constant slide for McCann since June 1, which is throwing some plans into flux. He could use a finish here.

-Shouldn’t you assume the one thing a pitcher in left field can do is throw powerfully and accurately?

-The Phillies managed one hit off Carson Fullmer. That alone should probably disqualify you from playoff contention.

Baseball

vs.

Records: White Sox 46-60 Phillies 57-51

GAMETIMES: Friday-Saturday 6:05 pm, Sunday 12:05 pm

TV: NBCSN Friday/Sunday, WGN Saturday

Gabe Kapler – Still Here, Still Beefy: The Good Phight 

The Phillies have to be excited to welcome in the White Sox after seeing what the inept Mets were just able to do to the Pale Hose in Chicago earlier this week. Hell, everyone with the Sox coming up on the schedule has to eager for their arrival. At 4-16 since the break, the White Sox are who we thought they were before a few first half flashes had some of the fan base dreaming on a Wild Card run. The Phightin’s are what those Sox fans had hoped for, as they come into the weekend firmly in the discussion for a playoff spot in the NL albeit tied with 1/3 of the league for that right. They’re 7-4 in their last 11 to help pull into said tie, but that includes six wins against SF, DET and PIT with a series loss to NL East leaders ATL sandwiched in the middle. There will be no David Robertson revenge game as his season was finally, mercifully ended yesterday with the announcement of elbow surgery on the horizon.

The Phillies will not only be pleased to see the White Sox stumble into town having just been blanked by their rivals in New York, but they’ll also miss Lucas Giolito and take favorable match ups on Friday and Saturday with Ivan Nova and the return of BIG BOSS Ross Detwiler before getting a resurgent Reynaldo Lopez on Sunday afternoon. The Phaithful will get their first glance at new acquisition Jason Vargas in the opener, who has been quietly much better of late. Considering his 2019 campaign began with 13 earned runs and 35 base runners allowed in six April appearances and a flirtation with being both DFA’d and murdered by half of New York, a stretch of 3 ER or less in all but one start since April 13 makes him a solid addition for the stretch run. He’s posted two quality starts in his last three, coming one out away from a clean sweep in that time. They’ll round out the weekend with pitching acquisition #2 in Drew Smyly taking his third turn since joining the rotation, looking for his own streak of three consecutive quality starts. Staff Ace Aaron Nola takes the ball in between, looking to continue recent success. He had his best month of the season posting a 2.52 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 39.1 July innings.

The Philly offense is currently all over the map. In the aforementioned 7-4 run, they’ve scored six runs or more in four games while putting up four or fewer in the other seven. That struggle for consistent runs is a theme throughout the year, as they’re the only other NL team in that tight Wild Card race with a negative run differential at -16, one better than the Brewers. They’ve relied on the long ball to carry them to victory, with J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins the heroes of late. $330M man Bryce Harper hasn’t exactly been the force Philadelphia had planned on when they signed him in the spring, but July did see his best splits thus far for AVG, OBP, OPS and wRC+. He also carries a very appealing 138 wRC+ at home and will likely increase that number against the soft underbelly of the Sox rotation.

Speaking of that rotation, what can really be said to this point that hasn’t already? Nova is just going through the motions, with the simple hope he can make it five or more innings to keep from having to exhaust the bullpen like they are in any non-Giolito/Lopez starts. Detwiler takes this turn after Dylan Covey failed to get a single out last Sunday, so while that bar is pretty easy to clear the second half of the season is all about continuing to lower the bar for this sad excuse of a starting five or six. Lopez represents the best hope of the weekend having turned his season around since the break. He’s allowed a total of six earned runs over his last four starts, a major improvement over the nearly four he averaged per start for his first 18 of the season. This probably has a lot to do with a season-best 19% K-BB ratio in July, so if he can keep pumping strikes he can carry the success into August.

The Chicago offense continues it’s downward spiral into the deepest reaches of hell, ranking dead last in the entire league in runs (55), Home Runs (15), Total Bases (226) and all of AVG/SLG/OPS (.602!) for the holy trinity of suck. Jose Abreu and James McCann are the biggest offenders here, as they come in at a combined five XBH (4 HR) and .210/.175 OBP, respectively. McCann has been especially horrific in July, posting a THIRTY-FOUR, 3-4, wRC+ for the month. That is….atrocious. The team sorely missed Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson for most of this paltry stretch, but even in return they’ve been more hurtful than helpful with two hits over seven combined games since coming of the IL. Add to that Yoan Moncada and his 33 total bases/.821 OPS landing on the IL earlier this week and….you get the picture. Everyone sucks, more so than usual, and the one guy that hasn’t sucked got hurt. White Sox baseball, CATCH THE FEVER.

The Phillies should expect to take this series and take it going away, and even if their bats can’t solve Nova, Detwiler or Lopez they might be fine with a combined five runs for the series if they can spread ’em out. That’s all it’d have taken the Mets in three games earlier this week. The White Sox COULD have taken this slide and turned it on it’s head by conducting a mass promotion of overly qualified talent at Charlotte, but they’re all still working on their salary suppression clocks instead.

What a time to be alive, Sox fans!

 

Baseball

VS 

RECORDS: White Sox 42-47   Royals 32-62

GAMETIMES: Mon/Tue/Wed 7:15, Thurs 12:15

TV: WGN Mon, Tue/Wed/Thurs NBCSN

ALL YOUR BBQ ARE BELONG TO US: Royals Review

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1: Lucas Giolito vs Jake Junis

Game 2: Dylan Cease vs Glen Sparkman

Game 3: Chevy Nova vs Danny Duffy

Game 4: TBD vs TBD

 

 

PROBABLE WHITE SOX LINEUP

Leury Garcia – SS

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – 1B

James McCann – C

Eloy Jimenez – LF

Jon Jay – RF

AJ Reed – DH

Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

Ryan Cordell – CF

 

PROBABLE ROYALS LINEUP

Whit Merrifield – RF

Alex Gordon – LF

Adalberto Mondesi – SS

Jorge Soler – DH

Chelsor Cuthbert– 1B

Hunter Dozier – 3B

Bubba Starling – CF

Nicky Lopez – 2B

Martin Maldonado – C

 

Another week, another series against the Royals for the Sox.  Yet these teams couldn’t have started their post All Star break more differently.  The Royals handily took their opening series against the moribund Detroit Tigers, while the Sox got their lunch fed to them by the A’s.  Apparently having 3 days off in a row turned the Sox into a bunch of slap hitting singles monsters, as in the first 2 games they managed a whopping ZERO extra base hits.  The Royals, meanwhile, banged out a boatload of them, and also ran wild on the basepaths.

Yet nothing seems to be the cure for what ails the Sox like this KC Royals team, as so far they’re 7-3 against them with two of the losses coming in the opening series of the season.  This Royals lineup looks mostly the same since the last time these two teams faced off, with one exception.  KC called up their “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer Local Boy” in Bubba Starling right before the All Star break.  Starling, the Royals 1st round pick in the loaded 2011 draft (taken 5th over all), had the distinction of being one of three players taken in the top 30 of that draft who had yet to reach the majors.  Some of the notable names from that draft taken after Starling include Javy Baez, Anthony Rendon and Francisco Lindor, making Starling the 2011 MLB version of Sam Bowie.  He also hails from Gardner, Kansas which is about 60 miles SW of KC.  Starling seems to have pushed light hitting speedster Billy Hamilton out of the starting lineup, which will probably preclude his trade to a contender who has a need for speed in the postseason.

The Sox will toss out their best 3 starters to kick off the series with Giolito, Cease and (sigh) Nova to take the bump in that order.  Giolito will attempt to right the ship after taking losses in his last 3 starts.  He did manage a scoreless inning in his All Star game debut.  Dylan Cease will make his second career major league start on Tuesday against moon-faced yahoo Glenn Sparkman.  If Cease can command his fastball at the top of the zone, and dot the bottom with his breaking pitches the Royals shouldn’t have an answer for him.  Nova will look to continue his “streak” of giving up less than 5 runs, which I guess is considered progress for the Sox starting rotation these days.  Game 4 looks to be a bullpen one for both teams, as the Sox have no days off this week.  After his disastrous start against the A’s on Saturday, Dylan Covey might not be the guy to turn to, and instead we will see some more of Hoss Detwiler.

With no Tim Anderson to throw at this series, Ned Yost will have to find something else to get pissy about if he’s gonna show his young team HOW TO PLAY THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY.  The Sox get a chance to redeem themselves after the Oakland series, and Sox fans get this year’s version of “Free Eloy” as Luis Robert moves up to AAA and his first taste of the juiced balls at that level.  Judging by the 2 dingers and 7 RBIs he had in his first appearance, you’re gonna hear Rick Hahn talking a lot about the holes in his defensive game before too long.

Let’s Go Sox.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Baseball

   VS.

 

RECORDS:  A’s 50-41  White Sox 42-44

Game Times: Friday 9:05/Saturday & Sunday 3:05

TV:  Friday & Saturday NBCSN/Sunday WGN

Still Bashin’ Bros: Athletics Nation

PITCHING MATCHUPS:

Game 1: Mike Fiers vs. Chevy Nova

Game 2: Chris Bassit vs. TBD (Probably Dylan Cease)

Game 3: Brett Anderson vs. Reynaldo Lopez

 

PROBABLE A’S LINEUP:

1. Marcus Seimen – SS

2. Robbie Grossman – LF

3. Matt Olson – 1B

4. Khris Davis – DH

5. Matt Chapman – 3B

6. Josh Phegley – C

7. Ramon Laureano – CF

8. Mark Canha – RF

9. Franklin Barreto – 2B

 

PROBABLE WHITE SOX LINEUP

1. Leury Garcia – SS

2. Yoan Moncada – 3B

3. Jose Abreu – 1B

4. James McCann – C

5. Eloy Jimenez – LF

6. Jon Jay – RF

7. Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

8. Ryan Cordell – CF

9. Zack Collins (hopefully)- DH

 

 

So now begins the back nine of what can be considered a fairly successful first half for the White Sox, despite the sub .500 record.  There are a couple of storylines that bear watching, mostly the usage of the younger members of the Sox roster from here on out.  Kicking off the 2nd half is a series against the Oakland A’s, a team with playoff aspirations and the record to back it up.  They’re currently locked in a battle with the 2 Texas based teams, jockeying for position in the AL west.  The smart money is on the Astros to sew it up on the back 9, and the regression monster finally coming for the surprising Rangers.  This leaves Team Moneyball to take their standard spot as the other AL wild card team, destined to be smoked by Tampa Bay or Boston.

The A’s have made it this far mostly living off their surprising starting pitching, anchored by Mike Fiers and the surprising Frankie Montas, though I guess it’s not THAT surprising since he just got popped with an 80 game suspension for performance enhancers.  Fiers actually has been one of the better AL starters since May, tossing a No-No earlier.  He currently sports a respectable 3.87 ERA, with a 1.10 WHIP.  He doesn’t strike many people out, but he keeps the ball in the yard, especially at the canyon-esque Coliseum he calls home.  He’s also a giant dickhead, and is probably upset he’s missing out on a chance to throw at Tim Anderson’s head.  Brett Anderson and Chris Bassit have also been solid, even if most A’s fans couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup.  Their bullpen is also lights out, and is set to eclipse the 6.0 WAR they put up last season during their surprising wild card run.  Fangraphs currently has them as the most successful pen in the majors so far this season.  Closer Blake Treinen has for the time being lost his spot to Liam Hendricks due to a rotater cuff strain, but should resume the gig now that he’s off the IL.  He wasn’t exactly lights out before the strain, however, posting a 4.17 ERA and blowing 4 saves.  His slider, which had been his out pitch in previous years, has been ditched for a new cut fastball.  Apparently it’s not cutting enough, because it’s being hit harder than any other of his offerings.

The A’s hitters, while not the murderer’s row offered up by the Dodgers or the Twins (ugh.  Really?), can still hurt you top to bottom.  They currently sit right in the top third of the league in hitting according to Fangraphs, and the team BABIP actually shows they’ve been the victim of some bad luck thus far.  Matt Chapman leads the way again, building off his impressive breakout season last year.  He’s already knocked out 21 dingers thus far, and maintains an .887 OBPS, which is exactly the type of player that gives Billy Beane night sweats.  Khris Davis, though hampered by some injuries so far, continues to provide pop in the heart of the lineup.  Old Friend Marcus Seimen continues to provide much improved D up the middle, and has added a little pop to his game, slugging .105 above his career average.  Even though Timmy has SS locked down for the future, this trade still stings seeing what Seimen has turned into.

As for the Sox, while it was fun seeing Giolito, McCann and Abreu in the All Star game (despite Jose going GIDP in his only at bat) it’s time to get back to doing what they do best: sit just below .500 while playing entertaining baseball for most of the time.  With no starter officially listed for Saturday yet, one would have to assume it would be start #2 for Dylan Cease.  If not, I guess we get to see more of Hoss Detwiler, though Covey may be available as well.  I’d much rather Covey slot into long relief, as it seems to be his destiny on this club.  Nova gets the start tonight, and it will be interesting to see if he can build on the little streak he had for himself before the break.  With 2 of the 3 A’s starters set to be RHP, this would be a good time to give Zack Collins a few starts either behind the dish or at 1B to give Jose a breather.  Will it happen?  With Palka being sent back down, you’d think so but we shall see.   Having a few extra days off will probably help a few of the Sox starters, as nagging injuries to Leury and Yoan could’ve used the extra time.

While the Sox -71 run differential screams 2nd half regression, some of that could be mitigated by having more than 2/5ths of an actual MLB starting rotation.  Either way, I’m hopeful for the future (and a Luis Robert September callup) and excited to see what the trade deadline and the 2nd half brings to the team.  Time to crank it up, fire it up.

Let’s Go Sox!