Well that was a whole thing, wasn’t it? Thank you for listening.
In a 2 game stint against a team clinging to playoff contention with a single fingernail, the Sox walked to the edge of that cliff and stomped squarely on that finger, sending the Reds to the bottom of the sea. Both Reynaldo Lopez and a diminished Carlos Rodon were able to hold a disinterested Cincinnati offense at bay, while Luis Robert continued to put the rest of the league on notice that he’s coming for his seat at the Table Of The Upper Echelon.
In other news, word broke yesterday that Tim Anderson somehow landed himself a 3-game suspension for supposedly “making contact” with umpire Tim Timmons (clearly a fake name) during the benches-clearing fracas stemming from Jose Abreu getting plunked for approximately the 6,548th time this season. In video posted to the internet, you can see Timmons and Timmy (new jazz-fusion group name) face to face but really nothing comes of it. The suspension is being appealed, and won’t affect Timmy’s availability for the postseason. I guess we’ll just wait and see what actually happened down there.
-Reynaldo Lopez continues to make a solid case for him to be on the postseason roster with another excellent outing. His 6 innings of 2 hit ball were only slightly marred by an Eugenio Suarez bombshot in the 5th inning. Even better, he only needed 80 pitches to get through 6, showing his newfound efficiency. Nice work.
-Luis Robert had two dingers on the night, the second of which was absolutely murdered and briefly showed up on our radar here at work. He’s been a force of nature recently, and has matured into the world destroyer Rick Hahn was hoping for when he coughed up that international signing money.
WOW! LUIS ROBERT GOT ALL OF THAT ONE! pic.twitter.com/Lb2C21lBzt
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 29, 2021
-In addition to Robert’s two blasts, Yoan Moncada and Gavin Sheets each added solo shots of their own. Sheets is another one who I would say has absolutely earned himself a playoff roster spot, as that kind of insane power from the left side will be very useful going forward.
-Jose Ruiz, Aaron Bummer and Matt Foster all added scoreless innings of relief, and while only 2 of those 3 will be pitching in the postseason it’s good to see.
-Carlos Rodon looked solid in his final tune-up before postseason play, though his velocity was still considerably down. Instead of dominating the Reds lineup with 98-mph fastballs, he kept them off kilter with 85 mph changeups and sliders then occasionally peppering them with a fastball that topped out at 93. Whether or not he was holding back due to the impending playoff pitching he’ll be asked to do (I don’t think this is the case), he was definitely good enough to hold down a depressed Reds offense. Will it be enough next week? We’ll see, but either way his arm strength will be one of the biggest storylines heading into the Astros series.
-Oh look, more dingers from Gavin Sheets.
-Michael Kopech finally got to go more than 2 innings, and made the most of the 3 he was given. The 2 walks weren’t great, but the overall performance is exactly what you’d want to see out of him.
-Leury Legend continued to swing a hot bat, going 2-4 with an RBI and run scored. Once Adam Engel is fully stretched out and ready for the playoffs, it’ll be interesting to see how much Caesar Hernandez actually plays.
Next up is the final series of the regular season. Naturally it’s against the team involved in the bench-clearing incident from the other day. I would fully expect things to be less chippy this time around, and wouldn’t be shocked if both teams start with umpire warnings in effect.
With the Astros 1.5 games ahead of the Sox in the standings, the odds of home field advantage are pretty long. The ultimate goal this weekend is to get out of the series unscathed, so expect to see pretty short outings from Giolito and Lance Lynn. In addition to that, it should be the last appearances for guys like Mike Wright Jr and Matt Foster so just one more time to deal with that. Stay healthy and get through the weekend, then it’s time to fuck up the Asstros.
Let’s Go Sox!
In a series where the Sox very easily could’ve taken all 3 games despite some glaring deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball, 2 wins should be considered a healthy victory, especially since it takes the season series against Boston (which is always nice, because fuck Boston).
In addition, the 2 wins this weekend drops the White Sox’ magic number down to 9 with Cleveland getting No-Hit on Saturday and 4 Hit on Sunday. More importantly than that, everyone stayed healthy over the weekend with Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon making their returns. Mostly good stuff all around.
TO THE BULLETS
-Jose Abreu didn’t do much in this series except for his second plate appearance on Friday night, where Tanner Houck hung a slider low and away to him and yet he still managed to pull it just to the right of the Sox bullpen for a 3 run shot. It wasn’t a tape measure dinger by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enough to give the Sox a lead they would refuse to relinquish. It also put Jose back on top of the AL lead in RBIs with 107, with Sal Perez and Vladdy Jr right behind him.
-Carlos Rodon returned and fired 5 strong innings, surrendering only a solo shot to Bobby Dalbec in the 5th inning. He struck out 7 and only allowed 5 hits. More importantly his velocity was back up, topping out at just under 98 MPH, where it was only around 95 in his previous start before his 2nd trip to the IL. He also threw 82 pitches in the 5 innings, and said he could’ve gone another but LaRussa smartly called it an early night.
-The bullpen had a solid night except for Ryan Tepera, who struggled with the command of his fastball for the first time in quite awhile. Thankfully Garret Crochet was up to the task, bailing out Tepera by getting Schwarber to fly out, ending the inning. Tepera has been one of the best releivers for the Sox since the trade deadline, so I’m willing to chalk this one up as a fluke.
-The 1-2 punch of Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks shut the door on the Red Sox in the 8th and 9th, though it wasn’t a clean sweep. Kimbrel gave up a leadoff walk in the 8th, and Hendriks a single in the 9th, which was originally an out but overturned by the nerds in NY after a brief review.
-The Sox could’ve made this less of a game, but the trend of stranding a conga line of runners on base continued with 21 left out there to die on the vine. Jose Abreu was the primary culprit, stranding 7 by himself, yet he also accounted for 75% of the Sox offense with his 3rd inning dinger so I guess that evens out. The lack of timely hitting IS a concern however, and needs to be addressed before the calendar flips to October.
-Dylan Cease just very flatly did not have his stuff Saturday night. The issues were different than the ones we’ve seen in the past, where he’s able to get ahead of hitters 0-2 or 1-2 and is unable to put them away. This time he was just missing the zone on the first two pitches of the at-bats and then battled back to a full count, only to lose the hitter on the 7th or 8th pitches of the at bats. I have nothing to back this up other than what I’ve seen, but it appears that Cease has difficulty pitching consistently out of the stretch. Whether this is a release point issue or something else remains to be seen, but I’m sure him and Katz are working on the issue. Either way, he just plain sucked tonight.
-The flip side of that coin is that Michael Kopech looked every bit the world destroyer that he was billed as when the Sox sent Chris Sale to Boston for him and Moncada (also awesome). He faced 7 batters on Saturday night, and struck out 5 of them. His command of his fastball AND his slider was downright filthy, and he was able to mix them to the point of utter confusion for the BoSox hitters. In the 5th inning he got Dalbec to swing at a filthy wipeout slider down and away, then blew away Travis Shaw with a fastball that broke 100 on the gun, then went back to the slider and made Kike Hernandez soil himself. Here’s the 3 pitch strikeout of Shaw, just look at the movement on that 4-seamer:
Michael Kopech, Unfair 3 Pitch K.
That's stupid. pic.twitter.com/Ae6CxGOU2l
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 12, 2021
-Oh look, Grandal and Robert combine for 7 hits on the night while Moncada was on base 4 times. Once Eloy gets his timing back and TA returns to the lineup there should be no excuses for them not to put up at least 5 per game.
-Craig Kimbrel was unable to hold the lead in the 8th, and the White Sox were unable to get Luis Robert in from 2nd after his ground rule double in the 9th. The writing was on the wall for a tough loss, but TLR sealed the deal when he threw Mike Wright to pitch in the 10th where he promptly gave up an RBI single to put Boston ahead.
-The Sox didn’t help their case in the bottom half of the inning, however. With runners on 1st and 3rd and nobody out, Leury Garcia struck out on 3 straight pitches. Tony then brought in Danny Mendick to pinch hit for Gavin Sheets (which was fine, though I would’ve preferred Vaughn but whatever) who promptly struck out. Then Goodwin had his shot but was unable to get Eloy in from 3rd, grounding out softly to end the game. Fart Noise.
-This game had each team with 4 hits apiece, and was about as exciting as that implies. It wasn’t even like either team was stranding a bunch on the bases, they just kinda sucked offensively.
-Lance Lynn looked good in his return, however. Another 5 inning stint, only needing 70 pitches to get through them. I realize TLR wants to protect these guys in their first starts back, but it definitely put a strain on the bullpen this weekend.
-Speaking of the pen, Garrett Crochet and Jose Ruiz looked good for their parts. They managed 3 innings between the two of them whilst striking out 2. Crochet looked a bit off, but gutted out his innings and got the ball to Ruiz. Well done, both of them.
-Pitching in his 3rd consecutive game, Craig Kimbrel looked bad. He couldn’t spot his knuckle curve to save his life, walking Rafael Devers on 4 of them to load the bases. Zavala finally called for a fastball against Verdugo, but he got enough of it to get the sac fly in from 3rd to bring the BoSox even. Since coming over from the Cubs at the deadline, Kimbrel has been a pretty mixed bag. Some games he looks unhittable, and others he looks like he couldn’t find the strike zone with a GPS. He’s spoken openly about having difficulties with his mechanics right now, and realistically it’s the perfect time (if there ever was one) for that, since he’s got just under a month to get right. Nobody doubts his stuff, but results matter and as of now they haven’t been there nearly enough.
-Anyways, all Kimbrel’s blown save did was create an opportunity for Leury Legend to make up for his 3 pitch K in the 10th the night before. Ballgame.
— MLB (@MLB) September 12, 2021
Next up is a team the Sox haven’t seen since Opening Day, the Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim And Also Portions Of Disneyland But Not Star Wars Land Because That’s Extra. Their roster looks a bit different since Mike Trout exploded his calf back in June and hasn’t been seen since. The most exciting man in baseball, Shohei Ohtani is still here, as is Jared Walsh. Also the corpse of Justin Upton, and Blonde Nick Madrigal (David Fletcher). Besides those 4, offense is pretty hard to come by for the L-AAA, though they have some interesting pieces in Jo Addell and Brandon Marsh.
The Angels have very little starting pitching outside of Ohtani, since Dylan Bundy turned back into a more-orange pumpkin and Griffin Canning turned out to be Dylan Cease with shittier stuff and somehow worse control. Jose Suarez is probably the best of the bunch right now, having gone 2-0 with one complete game shutout over the last month.
Tim Anderson is likely to return tomorrow, which makes it the first time all season the White Sox will be fully armed and operational on the offensive side of the ball. The opportunities to pour on the runs against this Angels team will be there, as well as the chance to close the gap for home field in the AL as the Sox try and run down the Astros for it. The brass ring is right there, time to reach up and grab it.
Let’s Go Sox
For a four game series against a team that has historically kicked the shit out of the White Sox, this was a very nice change of pace. While the starting pitching didn’t exactly blind us with their brilliance, they did enough to turn it over to a bullpen that suddenly seems to be about as dominant as advertised at the beginning of the season. Combine that with Cleveland pooping all over themselves against the Twins, and you get the Sox with an 11.5 game lead after going 4-3 against the Yankees and A’s. With the Rays and Blue Jays on the horizon before they get a break against the Cubs, another 4-3 stint would be more than welcome, and probably enough to put the last 12 nails in Cleveland’s coffin.
Also: Yasmani Grandal is almost back!
-Dallas Keuchel started off the game looking like he wanted to be anywhere but on the mound on the South Side, as he gave up a leadoff dinger to Matt Olsen (eh, it happens), plunked Josh Harrison (not great), walked Stephen Piscotty (definitely not great), and then walked someone called “Vimael Machin” to load the bases before giving up a single to Mark Canha and a run scoring fielder’s choice to Starling Marte to spot the A’s to a 2 run lead. After this, however, he shut that shit down and went 5 solid innings before giving the ball to Michael Kopech. Gutsy performance for DK (I can use this now since Duncan Keith told the Hawks to get fucked), and really nothing to complain about out of your 5th starter after it looked like it was going to be an early exit.
-Speaking of Michael Kopech…wow. He looked unhittable in his 2 innings, striking out 3 and walking 1 (only because of the shit strike zone of Ron Kulpa) and generally making the A’s hitters look like they were being attacked by bees. I don’t know if the Sox are going to give him anymore spot starts, but I sure would like to see them.
-If Luis Robert can stay healthy, we could have a perennial MVP on our hands. He’s that good.
-Eloy just keeps plugging along, doing his thing. Knocking in runs and keeping his OPS over 1.0, making pitchers look scared of him. He also didn’t spontaneously combust in the outfield, so aces all around.
-Kimbrel and Hendriks righted the ship in a big way, striking out everyone they faced in their 2 total innings. Sickness.
-First and foremost I can’t say how glad I am that Chris Bassitt escaped any permanent damage after Brain Goodwin absolutely smoked a line drive off his cheekbone in the 2nd inning. Bassitt went down in a heap, with blood pouring out from between his fingers into the dust of the mound. It was horrible to see live, and even worse to hear. I don’t blame the A’s for pretty much packing it in after this.
-Credit to Jake Lamb for cleaning what Andrew Vaughn left for him on the table with a 3-run shot to center field. I don’t know how much longer the Sox are going to have room for him, but he’s certainly been a nice surprise.
-Jose Abreu just keeps doing the thing. Another 3 RBI night for Pito, and though his batting average is lower than one might like he’s still raking when it matters.
-If this is the Reynaldo Lopez we’re getting from here on out, I may be ready to get hurt again. He had some great stuff, and was more efficient than I’ve seen him in a long time. He was still under 70 pitches when he got lifted after the 5th, but I get TLR wanting to protect him from going through the order a 3rd time. Good shit.
-Ryan Burr picked right up where ReyLo left off and looked solid the pair of innings he worked. I like his stuff, and if given a chance think he could be “A Thing”
-Gonna be honest here, I missed most of the game because of Stupid Work™ but I did see the clip of Lance Lynn throwing all his accessories to the umpire after the 4th inning and getting tossed. Boss Level shit right there.
-More quality work out of the bullpen again with Ryan Tepera, Garrett Crochet and Aaron Bummer taking care of business before turning things over to a resurgent Liam Hendriks with 1 out in the 8th inning and a 1 run lead. Hendriks never looked under duress in the 1.2 innings he threw, and his slider had more break on it than in weeks past. I declare him healed.
-Ho Hum, another 3 hit game for Luis Robert. How droll. He did manage to make things interesting in the top of the 7th when the grass disintegrated beneath his feet and he fell to his ass and still almost made the catch.
-Dylan Cease came out a house of fire and mowed some chumps down in the first few innings, then…stopped. He gave up a solo shot to Sean Murphy in the 3rd, which…whatever, then completely lost the zone in the 4th inning where he walked in a run. It’s like he completely forgot everything he was doing in the first 3 innings and went back to getting ahead in the count and then filling the count trying to nibble the edges of the zone. His final line wasn’t bad (quality start), he’s just infuriating to watch sometimes.
-Andrew Vaughn smoked himself another dinger today off an 80 MPH curveball, bringing his career total up to 15 with a real shot at 25 for the year. Plus he’s played almost everywhere on the diamond, and I’m thinking the Sox have their own version of Max Muncy now.
-Michael Kopech made one mistake today, but that was all it took to end the Sox’ hopes of a 4 game sweep. He hung an 0-1 slider in the middle of the plate, and Matt Olsen (who else?) didn’t miss it. Live and learn.
-The Sox tried to make it interesting off Lou Trevino in the bottom of the 9th, but Eloy left Jose on 2nd base when he smoked a line drive right at Starling Marte. Can’t get too mad about it based on how well the first 3 games went. Moving on.
Next up the Sox have a 3 game set this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays, who they took 2 of 3 from earlier in June. Looks like the Sox miss the meaty part of the Rays rotation, instead getting the corpse of Michael Wacha and Luis Patiño. Giolito, DK and ReyLo will get the nods against the Rays, who have the ability to single you to death, or bludgeon you with dingers. Let’s hope Gio can keep his stuff up in the zone, and DK down. Take another 2 from them, call it a series and send em packing back to America’s Taint.
Let’s Go Sox.
Baseball can go from deliriously entertaining to soul-crushingly depressing and then back again in the span of a few minutes. It’s the dumbest sport in the world, and I love it with all my heart and despise it with every fiber of my being. There are few teams out there that can encapsulate all of those emotions into one unit but the White Sox do it perfectly, from the highs of Timmy’s walk-off on Thursday night to the grinding lows of Cesar Hernandez’ 3 error fartfest on Sunday there is very little in-between for this squad.
It’ll probably be the death of me, and I’ll be thanking and cursing them all the way to the coroner.
-Scientific Fact: corn fields greatly add to the ambient moisture in the air, increasing the humidity in the air by up to 20%. Humid air makes baseballs fly farther, and the Sox proved this true Thursday night by pounding out 4 dingers Thursday night off an Andrew Heaney who’s neon “Not Interested” sign was flashing from the jump in the 1st. Eloy’s 3 run jack was particularly picturesque, disappearing into the corn in right center field. The Big Baby now has 6 dingers and 19 RBI in his 15 games this season. He’s easily the best hitter in the lineup right now, and it shows.
-Lance Lynn’s 5+ innings were the definition of “gutting it out” against a meaty Yankees lineup. While he didn’t have his plus plus stuff on Thursday night, he was able to limit the damage to 2 home runs. He still struck out 7, and other than Judge was largely able to keep the rest of the danger off the board.
-Michael Kopech’s first inning of relief was nasty has hell, prompting a deluge of positive tweets from baseball royalty across the nation. Then the 2nd inning began and he had some trouble with his control, prompting a move to Bummer (who has looked MUCH better since his return from the IL) who took care of business. This is more what we were looking for out of the pen at the beginning of the season.
-Seby Zavala has cemented himself as the backup catcher to Yasmani Grandal when he returns from his minor league Zavala is average at the plate, can’t really block anything in the dirt, and calls and frames a good game. All of those things he does better than Zack Collins, which should probably make him fairly expendable at this point.
-Liam Hendriks did not have a good night either Thursday OR Saturday. His HR rate is concerning, and if it doesn’t come down in the next few weeks TLR might have to seriously look at swapping him and Kimbrel.
-Ladies and Gentlemen, Tim F’n Anderson:
WHAT A DREAM. Tim Anderson walks it off! pic.twitter.com/0GDXW91uKg
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) August 13, 2021
-Sometimes baseball truly is a game of inches, as this one showed. Eloy and Zack Collins were a combined 4 feet away from turning this one from a nail biter to an absolute blowout. Instead, the Sox came up short and only had a sac fly by Eloy to show for it. Remember when I said baseball was stupid sometimes? Here ya go.
-The Sox stranded runners like it was going out of style on Saturday night, leaving a grand total of 25 standing on the pillows. Not great.
-Dylan Cease is some kind of wizard, because there’s not another person on the planet who can magically turn a 1-2 count into 3-2 as quickly as he can. More of the same tonight, with lots of teases of him being a dominant starter mixed in with an inability to put anyone away. That said, I’d probably take his 5 innings and 6 Ks with 3 ER most nights of the week.
-Kimbrel gave up an absolute lazer beam to Judge tonight on a fastball that caught way too much of the plate. Not nearly as bad as the dinger Liam gave up to Joey Gallo, but this should not be a competition to see who can give up the most bombs anyway. Hendriks is clearly leaving his fastballs up in the zone, but not nearly UP enough. It’s a very fixable issue, just a question of how long it’ll take.
-Jose Abreu tried his damnedest to make up for his rally killing GIDP earlier with his bottom of the 9th heroics. While it was not to be, I’m still stoked that he seems to be busting out of his slump.
-This game sucked, and it’s really hard to put a coat of paint on the ginormous turd the team laid on Sunday. Lucas Giolito struggled mightily the first 2 innings, throwing a combined 60 pitches between them, limiting him to 4 innings. He did strike out 8, so I guess that’s nice.
-Ryan Tepera, Jose Ruiz and Aaron Bummer picked up the slack however, giving the Sox a chance to claw back into the game before LaRussa turned once again to Matt Foster and suddenly the game was even MORE out of reach. I don’t quite get his use there, but whatever.
-Another day of leaving runners on base, with 18 more to add to the total. Andrew Vaughn was particularly guilty on Sunday with 5 total players left hung out to dry. Fart.
-The less said about Cesar Hernandez’ Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day the better. 3 errors and 2 GIDP (one of which ended the game). WHOOF. Be a goldfish, buddy. Be a goldfish.
Next up is a 4 game set against the once again red hot Oakland Athletics who have won 8 of their last 10 games and are attempting to run down the Houston Astros for the top spot in the west. The A’s actually made a splash at the deadline, trading for the guy we all wanted here in Starling Marte. He’s rewarded them for their efforts thus far with a 13 game hitting streak that began just after he got shipped over. The A’s pitching is nails as usual, with former Sox prospect Chris Bassitt leading the charge with a 12-3 record and a 3.06 ERA.
The A’s (shockingly) hit way better on the road than they do in their cavernous ballpark in the East Bay, so the Sox have their work cut out to regain some ground and momentum this week. The schedule doesn’t get any easier after that with Tampa and Toronto on the horizon. With the return of Grandal hopefully imminent, the Sox starters should not be lacking in run support, but hopefully they won’t need much.
I don’t even quite know how to describe this series, except to say that it had everything and yet somehow not enough. The Sox finally decided to score a boatload of runs, but it almost fell short as they could’ve easily lost the series to Cleveland due to a colossal lack of timely hitting in game 3. We also had Seby Zavala making history, and Reynaldo Lopez doing some quality work out of the pen. Also Jose Abreu got plunked a shitload of times, and we saw Tony LaRussa “dash” out of the dugout and attempt to fight Roberto Perez, which I’m sure would’ve ended well for him.
Ultimately the end result is the Sox are back to a 9 game lead in the AL Central and pointed in the right direction again after Rick Hahn surprised everyone on Friday afternoon swinging another deal with the Cubs. The 8th and 9th innings are looking pretty dangerous for the Sox pen again.
To the bullets!
-What a weird ass game this was. The biggest story came in the 8th inning when James Karinchak had a 2-seam fastball get completely away from him to drill Jose Abreu right behind his left earhole. Jose went down in a heap, and Karinchak looked positively terrified that he had just killed someone. With Jose prone on the ground and Roberto Perez checking on him, TLR came shambling out of the dugout to push Perez away from Abreu for some reason that I think only he understands. Jose was ultimately all right, and as he trotted down to 1st, Karinchak came over to apologize. Being the amazing human being that he is, Jose gave the poor kid a hug and all was well.
-With the bases loaded there was no way Cleveland was intentionally throwing at Abreu, Karinchak’s reaction alone being all the proof you need. I get Tony’s inclination to be pissed off, as that was MY first reaction as well, but I’d rather he made sure Jose was OK first before picking a fight with the only guy on the field wearing armor.
-Yoan Moncada hit his 9th home run of the season in a way that wasn’t a complete Jose Canseco, but it was pretty damn close:
Yoán Moncada just hit a home run that will be on the blooper reel forever pic.twitter.com/SsXESyRDrR
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) July 31, 2021
-Lance Lynn didn’t have his best stuff, but as you’d expect he bulldog’ed his way through the Cleveland lineup to 5 innings, 7 K’s and one walk. That’s our ace, folks.
-The Seby Zavala game is in the books, and his line in it ended with a 4-4, 3 HR 6 RBI night making him the first player EVER in MLB history to have 3 dingers in a game where he hit his first career home run. Hopefully this is enough to end the Zack Collins Experience as the backup catcher, but we shall see.
-Cleveland (the team) hit as many dingers as Zavala (the player), and they all came off pitches from Dallas Keuchel. He’s been bad lately, and time is running out for him to fix his shit.
-For a team that scored 11 runs, you’d think the Sox would have more than 11 hits but you’d be wrong. 5 home runs and some shitty D by Cleveland was how it went down.
-Michael Kopech had a shitty night, not much else to say about it. Not worried about him in the slightest, however. Moving on.
-The Jose Ruiz Experience needs to end, and soon. If Reynaldo Lopez is going to look like he did in relief on Sunday, then it should be his spot going forward.
-Yoan Moncada’s BABIP on the night should be about .900, as he’s had some of the worst luck (other than the weird ass home run in game 1) at the plate that I can remember.
-Solid bullpen work from ReyLo and and Jimmy Lambert here, keeping Cleveland to a single home run by Myles Straw of all people. While Lambert was sent back down after the game, ReyLo is still here and as mentioned above should be getting a better look out of the pen to see if he’s going to be an option going forward.
-The Sox had the bases loaded twice and only managed 1 run and it happened with Jose Abreu getting plunked again. All told, the Sox stranded 13 runners on the afternoon but still managed to pull out the win thanks to…
-One of the most excellent batflips of the season with Brian Goodwin walking off the Guardians in the bottom of the 9th. You just love to see it.
— Tony Clements (@TonyClementsTC) August 1, 2021
-In a preview of things to come, the 7th-9th innings were on total fucking lockdown with Aaron Bummer, Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks combining for 3 innings of 1 hit ball with 4 Ks. This is the bullpen I was promised, and having Bummer looking good in the 7th is gonna be awesome for the 1-3 starters.
Next up is a 3 game set at home again vs Kansas City with a chance to redeem themselves from that shit performance in Missouri last week. Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn currently line up to face the Royals, so as long as the offense can score some runs the team should have every opportunity for a series win. With the lead in the division the Sox have right now, the challenge is going to be staying sharp for games that on the surface look like they don’t matter much.
With the team’s splits favoring playing at home by about a 65% margin, getting home field advantage for the postseason is definitely something to strive for. With the looming return of Luis Robert, and a hopefully fully-groined Eloy Jimenez the Sox offense should have enough punch for the rest of the regular season. Don’t stop now boys.
Let’s Go Sox.
Quite the weird and wonky series here, as the Sox and Twins split in every way possible, from the double header to the full 9 inning games. The Sox pitching staff (other than Lance Lynn) was pretty suspect here, with Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease not exactly having their best stuff. On the other end of the battery, you have two catchers who if you combined them might equal one Yasmani Grandal (but probably not), highlighting the need to perhaps add another catcher at the deadline for Rick Hahn, especially since catchers and knee injuries aren’t really compatible.
On the offensive side of things, this was a split as well with long periods of inactivity puncuated with a barrage of hits and runs. Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada are both scorchingly hot right now, with both of them smashing the ball to all fields. After the 1st game, things cooled considerably for Tim Anderson, with his 16-game hit streak coming to an end Tuesday night.
All told, the Sox gained a half game on the Tribe and kept the stupid Twins right at the bottom of the division where they belong. One would assume this would make Minnesota sellers at the deadline, because they have some quality pieces they can move.
TO THE BULLETS!
-What a waste of an outing for Lance Lynn here. Other than one mistake in the 6th to Nelson Cruz (which has happened to a LOT of pitchers over the last 15 years), he was pretty dominant, only allowing 6 baserunners in the 7 innings he pitched. Fresh off his new paper from the Sox, Lynn did nothing to imply that Rick Hahn didn’t make an excellent move with the extension. He deserved a better fate, but if you can only manage 1 run in 7 innings it’s gonna be tough for any starter to get the W.
-Tim Anderson extended his hitting streak in the 3rd inning with another oppo dong off the guy from Mortal Kombat with the metal arms. Timmy is hitting to all fields with power right now, and honestly looks like one of the best hitters in baseball, except when he swings 3-0 with a chance to tie the game and popped out in foul territory. Stuff like this is going to happen when you have a free swinger, but overall I wouldn’t change anything about his approach.
-Garrett Crochet didn’t get any help from his defense or the reliever that came after him, ultimately taking the loss after Jake Burger had trouble making a decision on a Josh Donaldson chopper that loaded the bases. LaRussa went to Ryan Burr who got Cruz on a sac fly but then gave up a single to Polanco that scored what ended up being the winning run.
-Jose Abreu tried to drag the Sox back for the tie in the bottom of the 8th with a double that scored Tim Anderson, but was stranded there with a K and a pop out. Fart Noise.
-The Reynaldo Lopez Revenge Game never really materialized, but he pitched decent in his return to the big club. He gave up a single to lead off the game, then promptly advanced the runner to 3rd on a pickoff throw that was never within 10 feet of Jose Abreu. One Donaldson sac fly later and he was down 1-0. He later gave up a dinger to Mitch Garver, but other than those 2 mistakes looked serviceable.
-Poor Matt Foster got smoked by a line drive off the bat of Min Kepler, but at least managed to deflect it towards Danny Mendick for the out. He stayed in the game and had another ball hit at him. Not a great night.
-Codi Heuer came in and pitched a solid 6th inning, and Aaron Bummer continued his Jeckyll and Hyde routine by looking infinitely better than his previous outing.
-Jose Berrios only made 3 mistakes on the evening, and those 3 turned out to be all 5 Sox runs. Other than Moncada, Abreu and finally Gavin Sheets, Berrios kept the Sox hitters off balance all night with his sinker while striking out 8. It didn’t matter in the end, as Gavin Sheets did this with a 4-seamer Berrios tried to jam him with:
Gavin Sheets sends everyone home! pic.twitter.com/ieaEIE5e9M
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 20, 2021
-It was pretty apparent at the start of this one that Dallas Keuchel didn’t have his A game. He labored through 5 innings, only giving up 2 but he had to battle the whole way. Min Kepler took him WAY deep in the 2nd inning after an 8 pitch at bat where Dallas was up on him 0-2, which was the theme of the night. Keuchel had no issue getting ahead of hitters, but was unable to put any of them away. I have no evidence of this, but it feels like him and Seby Zavala weren’t on the same page for most of the night.
-Brian Goodwin saved Keuchel’s bacon in the 5th with a diving catch on a sinking liner hit by Nelson Cruz that would’ve scored at least one run and quite possibly two. I once again am forced to applaud Rick Hahn for one hell of a pickup in B-Good. He also singled in Jose to give the Sox a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning that wouldn’t last.
-Jose Abreu is a goddam beast. He finished a single short of the cycle, which in and of itself is kind of mind blowing. He also lifted this absolute moonshot in the bottom of the 8th to put the game out of reach permanently for the Twins:
-Michael Kopech pitched a decent 2 innings, really only giving up one mistake to (who else) Josh Donaldson, who smoked a 3-1 fastball about 15 rows deep. While Kopech didn’t have his A+ stuff, it was still good enough to get the job done. He probably could’ve gone one more, but TLR decided he wanted some Ryan Burr. The Twins did too, apparently because Donaldson singled on the first pitch he saw, then Polanco got to him again with a 2-run dong to (temporarily) put the Twins on top. The Sox’ options for reliable relievers in the 7th and 8th innings are practically non-existent, so Rick Hahn has quite the job ahead of him in the next few weeks.
-Andrew Vaughn came up big in his pinch hit situation in the bottom of the 8th, scorching a single to left center field that was hit so hard that Adam Engel nearly got drilled at home after he held up for half a breath before dashing from 2nd to home in a thrilling play to tie the game.
-Yoan Moncada is locked in. Beware.
-Billy Hamilton, ladies and gentlemen. After pinch running for Gavin Sheets in the 7th, he came up in the 8th with the go-ahead run on 2nd and 1 out. He didn’t waste any time, lining a single down the 3rd base line past a diving Donaldson to score Zack Collins from 2nd. You just gotta love how this guy plays the game.
-While his stat line doesn’t look too awful, Dylan Cease didn’t exactly set the world on fire in this start. He threw way too many pitches again, and when he missed his spots it was right in the middle of the zone (see: Kepler, Min).
-Codi Heuer has once again highlighted the need for Rick Hahn to acquire bullpen help at the deadline. The inconsistencies of a very young crew has been exposed over the last few weeks. The high level at which the starters have been pitching covers up a lot of those warts, but when Keuchel and Cease have less than stellar efforts, the pen has been overexposed.
-The Sox hitters didn’t help much either, stranding 14 people on base and generally making Michael Pineda look like a world beater (he’s not). Leury Garcia hasn’t been great in the last 7 games, posting a .174/.321/.304 slash line with 9 strikeouts. The catching crew of Seby Zavala and Zack Collins have sucked out loud as well. Here’s hoping Yasmani has Eloy-like healing abilities.
-Billy Hamilton was a lone bright spot in this game, going 2 for 4 and directly being responsible for the Sox first run. He fired a double down the line, then promptly stole 3rd and was brought in with an Adam Engel grounder that Assbag McGee couldn’t handle by 3rd. Love it.
Next up is a weekend series up in the remains of Giannis-Town with some of the most marquee pitching matchups you could possibly hope for:
Brewers-White Sox probables for this weekend:
RHP Freddy Peralta (7-3, 2.39) vs. RHP Lucas Giolito (8-6, 3.90)
RHP Corbin Burnes (5-4, 2.16) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (8-3, 2.14)
RHP Brandon Woodruff (7-4, 2.04) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (9-3, 1.94)
— Will Sammon (@WillSammon) July 21, 2021
If that doesn’t get you excited for baseball, you’re clinically dead and I can’t help you. Granted, whenever you get exciting pitching matchups like this, instead of duels, you end up with an offensive explosion so I fully expect 56 total runs this weekend. Either way, should be fun. Take 2 of 3 and get the hell outta there.
Lets Go Sox
Since we’re now officially halfway through the regular season (sure does feel like it flew by), I figured it would be a good time to take a quick peek and evaluate how everyone has done so far in the season. I’m only going to include players that are currently in the lineup, and not those who have gone on to live at the IL Farm Upstate.
First up today will be the infielders, tomorrow the OF, starters on Thursday and then the bullpen on Friday. Your standard disclaimer applies here that these are only my (correct) opinions, and not any hard and fast conclusions. Discussion is welcome on twitter, which I’m sure will be completely professional and not at all mean-spirited. Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of Fangraphs Dot Com.
On the surface Jose Abreu’s numbers are pretty much in line with what he’s put up in his career, with the exception of his slash line. His walk and strikeout rates are where they should be (with the BB rate actually a career high if this continues), his dinger and RBI totals are on target for career norms and his WAR and wRC+ are right on the money. His average can be explained away by his .294 BABIP as simply bad luck, but what can’t be brushed away is his OPS. Were this to continue through the 2nd half, the .786 mark would be the worst of his career.
The other thing is that for the first time I can ever remember, Jose is failing the eye test. My man is hurt, and whether it’s his knees from trying to carry the team on his back or just a collection of maladies, Jose is feeling the wear and tear maybe more than ever before. The all star break couldn’t have come at a better time for Jose, and Eloy’s pending return even moreso. At this point in his career, what Jose needs is maintenance days off. Andrew Vaughn and Eloy will be able to provide those. With rest, I feel his power numbers will be back to where they typically are for his career.
5.2% BB Rate / 23.6% K Rate
6 HR / 32 RBI / 55 R / 14 SB
.335 wOBA / 114 wRC+ / 2.1 WAR
The first half of the season is what we’ve come to expect from Tim Anderson over the past 2 years. Low walk rate, decent K rate, great contact rate and an excellent batting average. Honestly, Tim looks as good this year as he’s ever been, with the benefit of the difference between his batting average and OBP the highest we’ve ever seen. Tim is seeing the ball well, he’s dangerous on the basepaths, and he’s playing some of the best defense of his career with a UZR rating of 0.6, which would be the highest he’s had since 2016. I have no complaints.
16.5% BB Rate / 25.1% K Rate
5 HR/ 39 RBI / 38 R
.357 wOBA / 128 wRC+ / 2.8 WAR
One of the more divisive players on the team (because he’s handsome, you see), Yoan Moncada has put up some of his best statistics everywhere this year but his power numbers. With his line drive percentage the highest of his career (30.5%) and his fly ball percentage the lowest it’s ever been (27.9%) the fact that he’s not elevating the ball as much would make his low dinger total seem accurate. With his hard hit rate sitting just a skosh below his career average of 37% (36.9% to be exact), all it would take to bust out in the dinger department would be to elevate the ball a bit more. With the nagging shoulder issue being the likely culprit for his lack of elevation, the sooner that feels better the more likely the barrage is imminent. The shoulder would also explain why his throws across the infield have been much more wild than in the past. It’s something to keep an eye on, but overall not too concerning.
24.4% BB Rate (LOL) / 26% K Rate
14 HR / 48 RBI / 42 R
.365 wOBA / 134 wRC+ / 1.9 WAR / .199 BABIP (Also LOL)
The other divisive player amongst the fanbase is our (currently injured) #1 catcher Yaz. He’s an easy target for people who think that batting average is the end all be all for baseball stats. Looking at everything else however, and he’s actually one of the best hitters on the team behind target #2 of the Meatball Masses, Yoan Moncada. With his hilariously low BABIP and insanely high BB rate, Grandal was due to have a massive market correction to his batting average. Sadly the Sox let him continue to play with a bum calf muscle, which when tight can tug on the tendons of the knee and most likely lead to one of them shredding. With a 4-6 week timeframe for his return, I decided to keep him on the list. Here’s hoping his robo-knee can handle the load the rest of the way for the Sox when he returns at the beginning of September, as his pitch framing numbers are sorely missed.
12.3% BB Rate / 33.2% K Rate
3 HR / 21 RBI / 17 R
.317 wOBA / 102 wRC+ / -0.2 WAR
As the current replacement for Yasmani Grandal, Zack Collins has thus far left something to be desired. While he has put up decent power numbers in the limited times that he’s started behind the plate, his strikeout rate combine with his dismal defensive and framing numbers should give Rick Hahn pause before he skips this position when looking for help at the trade deadline. Collins is fine for a backup catcher spot, but so far he hasn’t proven to be able to handle the day to day duties of managing a pitching rotation from behind the dish. He’ll have the first few weeks after the All Star break to prove he belongs there, and hopefully with everyday starts things will begin to improve for him.
11.4% BB Rate / 25% K Rate
2 HR / 17 RBI / 12 R
.272 wOBA / 72 wRC+ / .03 WAR
Danny Mendick has done an acceptable job manning 2B in the absence of Nick Madrigal after his hamstring exploded a few weeks ago. He plays plus defense around the infield with an average of a 1.2 UZR rating, and doesn’t kill you at the plate. He’s not an every day player, however, and I believe that Rick Hahn has 2B pegged as his trade deadline priority. With Trevor Story or Adam Frazier (hopefully) manning that spot going forward, Mendick can spell the rest of the infield when they need a day off.
Josh Donaldson is a penis, and it warmed the darkest recesses of my heart to see the Sox respond to his borderline insane zoom interview/manifesto by pummeling the Twins pitching to the tune of 28 runs in 3 games. They drummed poor Matt Shoemaker all the way back to the unemployment line when Brain Genius Rocco Baldelli went Full TLR and left him out there to die in the 4th inning. It really was quite the spectacle, and I wish I could liquify it and then inject the solution directly into my brain.
TO THE BULLETS!
-Let’s get this out of the way at the start. Lucas Giolito’s spin rate was waaaaay down in this game, with his 4-seamer missing about 170 RPMs off from his previous outing. It was also a very hot and humid night, with the dewpoint well above 70. Did this have an effect on his spin rate? Probably. That being said, it bears watching going forward to see if it was a one time thing or the new norm. The one K for the night also raises my eyebrows a bit. Gonna wait and see how the next few starts go before we draw any concrete conclusions.
-On the other side of the coin, something is very wrong with Kenta Maeda’s mechanics. I don’t know if he was tipping his pitches or what, but he was supremely hittable on Tuesday night. On top of that, he had trouble finding the zone, and when he was actually in it, the Sox beat the shit out of the ball. Sucks for him, good for us.
-Gavin Sheets, hello.
-Andrew Vaughn and his googly eyes are locked in right now. He’s seeing the ball very well (duh), and most importantly making contact against right handed pitchers. We all knew he can punish lefties, but seeing that same swing against RHP now is exciting.
-Ryan Burr just keeps throwing zeros up there. Gonna need him now that Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer have joined Eloy and the rest up in Sox Heaven.
-Liam Hendriks certainly made things exciting in the 9th, but managed to work around some bad luck and lock down his 21st save of the year.
-The Sox had 7 dingers total in the series and 6 of them came in this game. One of which was the first career bomb from Gavin Sheets, which went an estimated 429 feet. The only one to top that distance on the night was Yasmani Grandal, who’s 447 foot blast showed up on our radar at work:
Yasmani Grandal has the home run strut down pic.twitter.com/E8T4OXEQYG
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) July 1, 2021
-Dylan Cease gave up a dinger to Donaldson (of course) in the 1st, but then settled down thereafter and went a solid 6. His 3 walks pretty much guaranteed that he wasn’t going any further than that, but with the bullpen in the state that it’s in you can’t complain about a quality start.
-Garret Crochet looks like he found the heat he was missing on his fastball, striking out 2 in his inning of work and touching 98 mph in the process. Good to see.
-Jose Abreu went yard with a piss missile in the 3rd inning, but still looked out of sorts. Dude needs a week off, and I’m legit hoping he avoids the All Star Game
-Carlos Rodon had more nasty stuff in this game, but ran into trouble in the 5th when the D behind him went into full Benny Hill Mode. Ultimately it cost him the W, but it was all worth it to have him stare Donaldson down when he K’d him with a nasty slider. Baseball is fun.
Carlos Rodón with the strike and the stare down. 👀🤭
— theScore (@theScore) July 1, 2021
-Billy Hamilton is back and it’s beautiful. Dude smacked a double into left center field, then stole 3rd underneath a shitty swipe by Donaldson, then scored on a sac fly from Abreu in short right center.
-All was not fun and games, however, as Yoan Moncada hurt his hand on a slide into 3rd. Team is calling it a bruised thumb, and he’s expected to miss at least the series this weekend against Detroit. Realistically they should rest him until after the all star break, but we know that won’t happen. Unless…
-Jake Burger comes up and tears a hole in the universe at 3rd base this weekend. Regardless of how the kid does in his callup, it’s an awesome story for him to come back from not one but TWO torn Achilles’ ligament tears. He’s been mashing in AAA, but the Tigers pitching has looked pretty damn good recently, so I’m excited to see how he does.
-Michael Kopech came back for an inning and looked good enough to vulture the W away from Rodon after the D fell apart in the 5th. Gonna need him.
Next up is a weekend series against the Tigers in Detroit, where AJ Hinch has his squad playing much better as of late. They took 2 of 3 from Houston, then swept a double header against the Tribe to take 2 of 3 from them.
Their starting rotation has been pretty lights out, so the depleted Sox lineup will have their work cut out for them. Taking out the stinker in the first game against Cleveland, they’ve only given up 10 runs in 5 games. Tarik Skubal has been dominant since his 11 strikeout performance last series against the Sox, and he slots in Saturday against Dallas Keuchel. Casey Mize takes the bump Friday against Lance Lynn, and the fireworks on Sunday feature Lucas Giolito vs the undefeated TBD.
The Sox lead is now up to 5 games over the Indians, who have a series against the Astros pending this weekend. Good chance to get that up to 7 before the next 4 against the Twins. Get it done.
Let’s Go Sox.
That was an acceptable palette cleanser from the verp that was this past weekend in the Bronx. The Sox starters were the story of the series, with Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodon all notching quality starts en route to taking two of three from the Red Birds. Liam Hendriks seems to have returned to form as well, coming into the legendary 8-3 save situation after Garret “Garbage Time” Crochet (and I mean that with the utmost respect, as he’s too good a pitcher for mop up duty) loaded the bases in the 9th inning on Tuesday night. He struck out the side in true Mariano Rivera fashion to seal the deal, screaming FUCK all the while. My dude.
The offense was present and accounted for in the first two games, and then vanished completely in game 3. Much like the rest of the time when the Sox score 2 or less runs (in which they are a paltry 1-7 in the month of May and 2-10 overall) the outcome was not in their favor, aided and abetted by TLR’s insistence on giving away outs trying to bunt runners over.
Which wasn’t helped by Yermin Mercedes’ inability to hit with RISP on Wednesday, going 0-4 while stranding 10(!) runners on base. Just leaving this out there, but since LaRussa needlessly threw Mercedes under the bus in Minneapolis, he’s slashed .207/.273/.480 with 1 run and 1 RBI as opposed to his slash line in the 8 games before: .344/417/.980 with 4 runs and 8 RBI. It’s one of those “I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin” kinda things. Is it that he’s just slumping right now, or that pitchers have figured him out? Sure, that’s a possibility. The timing is very suspect, however.
Anyways, to the bullets.
-Lance Lynn was a beast in this one, taking a no hitter through 5+ innings, ultimately ending with 7 innings, 3 walks and 4 Ks en route to his 5th win of the season. While TLR was waxing poetically about how “difficult” it was to pitch against his former club, Lynn held no such sentiment, saying “I’m an asshole when I pitch” and declaring the win to be one of the “Most satisfying” of his career.
-Andrew Vaughn blasted his 4th home run of the season off a pretty good changeup by Cards starter Kwang Hyun Kim. He also added a single to bring his average up to .230, a pretty solid feat for a guy who spent about 6 hours total in the minor leagues. The hit tools are very clearly there, and he’s gotten better playing the OF. Good shit.
-Tim Anderson broke out of his mini slump with a 2 run double down the RF line, though he was ultimately gunned down by Molina at 3rd trying to stretch it into a triple. I’m pretty happy with both of those things, as being aggressive on the basepaths like that is Timmy’s M.O.
-Michael Kopech came in to shut the door in the 8th and 9th and looked pretty damn good doing it, striking out half the batters he faced and walking none.
-This was billed as a marquee pitching matchup between two former high school teammates who became aces at the big league level. It was…not that. The Cardinals defense were struck by a bad case of The Sucks, and Flaherty tried his damndest to hold it together but in the end gave up 7 runs, 4(!) of which were of the unearned variety. Lucas Giolito looked solid, if unspectacular in his 6 innings of 2 run ball. There was a moment before he came out for the 5th where Ethan Katz and the training staff came out to look at him for some reason, but Lucas waved them off and threw two more. Don’t know what it was about but I guess it bears watching.
-As mentioned above, Garret Crochet’s mystifying usage thus far this season has clearly made him rusty. More garbage time duty tonight turned into a save situation for Liam Hendriks, who mowed down 3 Cardinals to clean up the mess. Crochet has one of the best ERAs in the bullpen, yet we continue to see a bevy of innings pitched by Jose Ruiz (who would have trouble getting ME out). I don’t get the rationale, and it irritates the fuck out of me.
-Nick Madrigal and Jose Abreu made sure the Cards paid a price for the clown show in the field, going 5-8 between the two of them with 5 RBI, including this massive dong by Jose in the 7th inning, estimated at 69-420 feet. Nice.
IT WILL! pic.twitter.com/AmpihjmySf
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 26, 2021
-Sure is a shame that we’re only going to get one season of the Ethan Katz-fueled version of Carlos Rodon, as he mowed down 10 Cardinals in dominant fashion. Rodon is the biggest example of just how out of touch with the pitching game Don Cooper had become at the end of his career.
-Unless you’re Billy Hamilton and it’s 85% of your offensive ability, bunting is fucking stupid. Yet here we are, with 3 sac bunts on the day that yielded zero runs. Fuck that shit into the sun, and let these professional hitters swing the fucking bats.
-Adam Eaton left the game with a hamstring injury and is considered day to day, leaving….nobody to play in the outfield. If Eaton is missing a stretch of time, then Rick Hahn is out of excuses and a move has to be made.
-In a scary moment, Michael Kopech stumbled off the mound after a pitch in the 8th and limped off the field. Supposedly the tweak to his ankle is minor and he won’t require a stint on the DL, but I’ll believe that when I see it, considering this team’s luck this year with injuries.
-Aaron Bummer and Jose Ruiz didn’t cover themselves in glory yesterday, quadrupling the Cardinal’s lead between the two of them.
-The Sox hitters were unable to get anything started (or finished for that matter), on their way to their 4th time being shut out this month. A new RF power bat that hits lefty from Seattle might be able to help with that. Who knows?
Next up is a 4 game set against another Bird-Themed baseball club, the Baltimore Orioles. As was foretold, they currently sit in the basement of the AL East, but that is fairly misleading as the O’s have the ability to jump on a team in a hurry. Anthony Santander and a cancer-free Trey Mancini have the kind of power to make opposing pitchers pay, and John Means might be a legit ace after his perfect game earlier in the season. Now is not the time to let off the gas, take 3 in the series and move on to Cleveland.
Let’s Go Sox