RECORDS: Rangers 63-65 / White Sox 57-69 (nice) (not really)

GAMETIMES: Thursday/Friday 7:05,  Saturday 6:10,  Sunday 1:10

TV: Thurs/Fri/Sun NBCSN,  Saturday WGN



Hot damn that was an awesome game to take the series from the Twins yesterday. Gi0lito was absolutely dominant in mowing down 12 Twins, who are the league leaders in team slugging percentage. Lucas truly has gotten his ship righted and the home stretch here should feature the Sox having a chance to win anytime he starts. Unfortunately for us, he’s not going to be starting at all this series, so hopes for a series win or split rest with Reynaldo Lopez and Ivan Nova. Thankfully this is not the same Rangers team the Sox faced back in June.

Since the last series with the Good Old Boys from Arlington, things ain’t so good no more for the Rangers. Turns out the team everyone thought was smoke and mirrors was actually comprised of smoke and mirrors. In the first few months of the season, the Rangers were 8th in the AL in hitting and 8th in the AL in pitching. All in all not a bad place to be, as with a little luck being in the middle of the pack everywhere allows you to compete.  They weren’t able to stay there however, as since July the Rangers have slid considerably down the Hill O’ Regression. They dropped to 11th of 15 in hitting, but managed to only slip to 9th in pitching. Some of the slide in hitting was (unbelievably) Hunter Pence hitting the IL, as he had miraculously been able to kick Father Time in the dick and post the type of numbers that hadn’t been seen since he first showed up in the Bay Area eight years ago. The other dagger was Joey Gallo hitting the injured list as well with a fractured hamate bone in his hand. While that sucks for him (and if I’m being honest, baseball as a whole as he was basically the AL’s version of Cody Bellinger before he went down) and the Rangers, it did result in this quality Twitter thread when TR Sullivan accidentally typed “hamster bone” instead of “hamate.”

Since the All Star game, the Rangers have had the same type of success as the White Sox, going 17-27 in that stretch, and now find themselves way outside of the playoff picture looking in. Much like the White Sox, they largely stood pat at the trade deadline. One of their only moves was to acquire Nate Jones on a flyer from the Sox for a couple of low-A minor league players. Veterans that could’ve fetched something at the deadline such as Pence and Shin-Soo Choo have stayed. The younger players here are somewhat of a mixed bag, as Danny Santana and Delino DeShields have been playing pretty well, but Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara have shown to be only slightly above replacement level. Elvis Andrus is still a plus-level player at shortstop, but has entered the dreaded Year 30 season and we all know it’s a rocket sled to obscurity from here on out.

On the pitching side, Lance Lynn and Mike Minor have been able to continue their solid run and keep the rotation afloat for the most part. The other trade the Rangers made at the deadline was to acquire Kolby Allard from the Braves for the lead singer of Coldplay, Chris Martin. Allard was a pretty highly ranked prospect arm for the Braves, but they have a lot of those and Allard was deemed expendable. He’s been decent for the Rangers so far going 1-0 in his first three starts, two of which featured him giving up three or less runs. The other was six. He’s similar to Dylan Cease in that he features a plus fastball and curveball, and an above average changeup. When he can control his fastball up in the zone his stuff is pretty unhittable. Allard will go on Saturday against Nova in what I guess will be the marquee pitching matchup for this series?

As for the Sox, after their solid series victory against the Twins they come home having gone 3-4 on the seven-game road trip. Some very good starting pitching, and some very not good bullpen pitching makes that number what it is. The Sox bats have come alive as well, with Jose Abreu hitting .345 with four home runs and 15 RBI in that span. The Sox should also get Yoan Moncada back from his hamstring stint on the IL, which will hopefully move Ryan Goins over to 2b and planting Yolmer firmly on the bench, waiting for his chance to come in and bunt. Ross Detwiler gets the 5th starter spot this time around, and if he can replicate what Hector Santiago did in his start against the Angels I’d be OK with that. Dylan Cease gets another shot to keep the ball in the park, as he tries to straighten the learning curve out (pun intended).

Much like the past few series, if the Sox can keep the ball in the park they stand a decent chance of at least taking half these games. Getting Yoan back at the hot corner should provide a boost to the Sox offense, and hopefully it can carry them to a series win.

Don’t Stop Now Boys.


It’s an admittedly random comparison. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about Kyle Schwarber, because I am lost and perhaps helpless. Still, I’ve spent a fair amount of time defending Kyle, rooting for Kyle, hoping this week or this game or even this plate appearance is the one that opens the floodgates for him.

But it hasn’t happened. Schwarbs is still hitting under .240. He’s still slugging under .500. His wRC+ is a mere 107, which is hardly bad, but this offense needs more from left field than that. Especially when Schwarber is not going to provide really anything defensively.

I thought of Gallo, because Schwarber is still on course for 30 homers, 35 if he were to have one more binge this season. That’s something. Homers out of nothing is what Gallo used to be. Gallo of course hit 40 the past two seasons, but while he was doing that he was failing to reach a .210 average or even a .340 OBP, which Schwarber eclipsed last year. Still, there are some similarities.

They both walk more than average, although this year Gallo has walked a ton. They both strike out a lot, but Gallo strikes out far more often than Schwarber. But Gallo is hitting .253 this year, slugging nearly .600, with a 145 wRC+ and on his way to a 4.0 WAR season, something we’d all die for Kyle to become.

Kyle is eight months older, so if you’re hoping for just natural evolution or aging, that’s out. Schwarber does hit the ball hard, but he’s not hitting it as hard as Gallo. Gallo has rocked a 45+% hard-contact rate before the baseball became flubber, and is over 50% this year. Schwarber is around 40%. This has allowed Gallo to run a .368 BABIP, which is obviously high but when you’re hitting the ball as hard as Gallo does, it’s not that high.

Now, it would be easy to say that Gallo just hits the ball harder, is stronger or has a more natural swing or whatever. But if you travel into the StatCast lands, you’ll see that Schwarber’s and Gallo’s average exit velocity are almost identical (92.5 MPH for Schwarber and 93.0 for Gallo). Though Schwarber probably has gotten a boost from the baseball, as this is new territory for him whereas Gallo has always done this. Still, they’re on the same plane, now, so let’s work with that.

So how do we get Schwarber there, if we can? One change Gallo has made this year has been far great discipline. He’s swinging at almost a quarter less pitches outside the zone, nine percentage points less inside the zone. He’s been far more selective. But the thing is, his numbers now are just what Schwarber is doing, as far as what he’s swinging at. The difference is that Schwarber has better coverage, making contact on far more pitches outside the zone than Gallo does. Still, that’s not really it.

It was thought that Gallo would always suffer from shifts, and he would lose out on hits because he would keep lacing balls into infielders standing in right field. It was thought he would have to go the opposite way more often. Well, Gallo told all of that to fuck off, because he’s pulling the ball even more than he has in the past. He’s just doing so more on a line, and that’s where the real difference is. Gallo has a 25% line-drive rate, which will always drive up your BABIP, and Scwharber is at 18%. Gallo keeps his ground-ball rate around 25%, whereas Schwarber is up near 40%. That’s probably the change here. As strange as it sounds, Schwarbs needs to get more balls in the air.

Whether that will work for Schwarber is up for debate. Schwarber crushes the ball to the opposite way, slugging .765 when going that way this year, and being more damaging doing that than when he’s pulling the ball.

While Gallo can still get caught out by change-ups, the ground-ball rates on slider and curves is markedly different, with Schwarber’s ground-ball percentages some 10-15% higher than Gallo’s on those pitches. Schwarbs is going to have to find a way to get those in the air, and hard.

It may just be that Schwarber can’t consistently hit the ball that hard, or that he’ll never learn to get that contact more in the air with some violence. But his hopes, and ours, of being a plus-player kind of ride on it. Whether that’s pulling the ball to the same obscene degree that Gallo does, or whether he can find a way doing that hitting it the other way as he is now. Again, with no defensive contribution, Schwarber has to slug over .500 to be effective, and probably over .550. He has to get his average to .250, and his on-base over .37o or more. Otherwise, we’ll keep seeing these 1.0-1.5 WAR seasons, and you’d have to say the Cubs need better from that spot.