Everything Else

With just a little over a month left in this lost season, the Cubs continue to get crushed offensively as the number of fans that continue to watch these games dwindles. This weekend, the Cubs got outscored 19-5 and there was genuinely not a lot of good to see there. Even Keegan Thompson’s day on the mound on Saturday was a pretty forgettable one. Finally, as the cherry on top of this garbage sandwich, the Cubs are now in the midst of the longest home game losing streak in franchise history with loss number 13 in a row happening last night at Wrigley. Let’s review this dreck.

August 20, 2021
Cubs 2, Royals 6
WP: Keller (8-12) LP: Davies (6-10)
Box Score

Despite going up 2-0 early, the Cubs just couldn’t hold on, allowing the Royals to hit five solo homers to win the game 6-2. Zach Davies allowed four of those homers in 6 innings pitched: one in the 4th inning, one in the 5th and two in the 6th. Past the 3rd inning, the Cubs’ offense only had two hits (and one walk) for the rest of the game. When you can’t figure out the Royals’ pitchers, well…that’s not good for you.

Ian Happ’s offensive skills are showing signs of life, sort of, despite it being a bit too little, too late. He and Wisdom were just about the only noticeable hitters, as Wisdom hit a solo homer to put the Cubs ahead in the 2nd, and in the 3rd Happ singled to score Zach Davies (that hit, RBI and run scored likely won’t be happening a year from now.)

The Cubs did no more hitting, as Davies gave up four solo homers despite only allowing one other hit for his six innings played today. However, those solo homers obviously added up especially once the Cubs’ bats went flat. Rex Brothers pitched one hitless inning and then Ryan Meisinger allowed two hits that let the Royals pile on their lead. Jake Jewell gave up a solo homer in the 9th to end things for us in a pretty forgettable game.

August 21, 2021
Cubs 2, Royals 4
WP: Bubic (4-6) LP: Thompson (3-3)
Box Score

Well, Keegan Thompson lost his second career start, but things are pretty much always terrible for the Cubs these days. He obviously seemed a little nervous or jittery for this start, as the first run against him was scored on a wild pitch after allowing two hits in the first two at-bats of the game. Hopefully with a few more starts things will start to calm down in that regard?

Meanwhile, the Cubs offense continues to be almost league-worst. This is best shown through Kris Bubic, a pitcher who allowed 9 hits and 7 runs in 1.1 innings his last start, being able to no-hit this team through six innings. The offense continues to be horrendously broken, but nowadays there are no longer MLB-caliber players who get blamed for it; now it’s just what this team is.

Patrick Wisdom continues to be the only consistent form of Cubs offense as of late with yet another two-run homer to make this game not as embarrassing as it could’ve been. (Frank Schwindel walked.) That was the only hit the Cubs had the entire game, and at this point there’s nothing left to do as fans but shrug and say, what can you do?

August 22, 2021
Cubs 1, Royals 9
WP: Hernandez (4-1) LP: Mills (5-6)
Box Score

The Cubs once again got crushed yesterday, with Ian Happ responsible for the lone Cubs tally today. The Cubs were only able to get 5 hits compared to the Royals’ 16, which means that nobody was surprised to see 9-1 being the final score.

The starting pitching continues to be an absolute disaster, as the bulk of the Royals’ offense came off of starter Alec Mills, who gave up 11 hits and 7 runs in only 4.0 innings pitched. Starts genuinely don’t get much worse than this, despite his five strikeouts. At least he didn’t walk anyone?

Rowan Wick, surprise surprise, was the only relief pitcher who gave up any more runs, which I would consider to be a step in the right direction for everyone else involved. Ryan Meisinger came out in the 5th inning to relieve Mills of his duties. He had runners on second and third and got a strikeout and no hits to lower his ERA to 11.12. He did allow a sacrifice fly that scored a runner but since that runner was put on base by Mills it didn’t count against him. Adrian Sampson, Rex Brothers and Michael Rucker combined for only three hits together in the last three innings of the game. They also got four strikeouts.

The Cubs couldn’t figure out Royals starter Carlos Hernandez, who stayed in the game for seven innings and gave up only four hits. In the 4th inning, Ian Happ hit a ground-rule double and Matt Duffy’s single two batters later was able to send him home. Other than that, Hernandez shut down the club and that continued through the Royals’ two innings of relief, where the Cubs only allowed one hit.

In case you still cared, the Cubs now play the Rockies for the first half of this week. The Rockies are about as bad as the Royals and look how that worked out for the Cubs this weekend. The ugliness continues; if you’re still crazy enough to watch and read about this team, I’ll be back midweek with the wrap. Go Cubs go.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

White Sox 3 – Royals 4

White Sox 5 – Royals 3

White Sox 2 – Royals 3 (10 innings)

White Sox 0 – Royals 5

 

Whatever.

In what should’ve been a series where the Sox celebrated the triumphant return of The Big Baby, they instead looked like a pack of single A hitters facing Jake deGrom. The offense has scored 15 runs in its last 7 games, and the pitching outside of Giolito and Lynn has looked exceedingly pedestrian. While Rick Hahn has thus far done “fine” on the trading for reinforcements front, watching the Dodgers act like a team that legit wants to win every game they play by trading for Scherzer and Trea Turner leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Plus Eloy is hurt again.

Bullets? If we have to…

 

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

Game 1

-For a pitcher billed as a sinkerball specialist with a penchant for a lot of groundouts, Dallas Keuchel sure has been giving up a lot of home runs lately. The 3 in this game brings his total for the year up to 17 dingers in 19 starts as opposed to the 2 he gave up in the entire abbreviated season last year. A lot of it is the competition he was playing against in 2020 vs 2021, but the teams he’s giving up long balls to this year are the likes of Baltimore, Minnesota and KC. Something’s up with his delivery, but other than the fact that he’s leaving a lot of shit up in the zone I can’t put my finger on it. If he doesn’t right the ship, he figures to be the odd man out come playoff time.

-On the other side of the coin, the offense that started out the first half of the year as one of the most patient in the league (4th in the entire league with a 10.4% BB rate) has suddenly decided to swing at every offering from some of the shittiest pitchers in the land (down to 14th in the league with an 8.6% BB rate since July 1). A ginormous chunk of this is the loss of Yasmani Grandal and his .388 OPB, but players who were working counts earlier like Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have suddenly become swing happy. This may just be an outlier in a long season, but it bears watching.

-Andrew “Doubles” Vaughn did his best to drag this team back into the game with a 2 run single in the 6th inning, smoking an 0-2 change outside the zone right down the 1st base line.  This extended his hit streak to 6 games (which he would stretch to 7 the next night). Love to see it.

-Eloy was back, and despite the loss it was awesome to see him out there again. Luis Robert and Grandal aren’t far behind, as Robert began his AAA rehab stint and Grandal is a few days away from his.

-Another 2 hit night for Adam Engel, who with Vaughn’s emergence as a legit OF option and the impending return of Luis Robert has basically taken the RF need off Rick Hahn’s “to do” list.

Game 2

-THE BIG BABY HAS RETURNED. What a fucking blast:

-Everyone should thank Mike Matheny for intentionally walking Jose Abreu to get to the 2020 Silver Slugger award winner. That’s some Galaxy-Brained shit right there.

-In addition to vaporizing that ball, Eloy had a single and actually threw someone out at home from LF. Granted it was a hilariously bad send by the Royals 3rd base coach, but an assist is an assist. He also made a very nice catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Carlos Santana.

-Not to be lost in the Eloy Excitement, but Gavin Sheets also smoked a dinger of his own in the top of the 4th off a shitty changeup from shitty pitcher Brad Keller. That’s Sheets’ 6th dinger since he’s been called up, and it’ll be tough for the team to send him down once Luis comes back.

-Dylan Cease was pretty scattershot in his start tonight, but was somewhat let down by the D behind him. Andrew Vaughn, making his first ever start in RF, dropped a fly ball that would’ve ended the inning for Cease. Credit to him for battling, however, and making it a quality start by going 6 and giving up 2 ER.

-Michael Kopech looked absolutely unhittable in his inning of relief, striking out the side in the 8th to set the table for Liam Hendrik’s 25th save. That could be a scary back end of the bullpen if he can get that consistency up (he will). The only question is will he end up in the rotation or not.

GAME 3

-Fuck this shit.

GAME 4

-Fuck this shit too.

 

With a few hours left until the deadline, there’s still time for Rick Hahn to add more pieces, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that none of them are going to be of the jaw-dropping variety. Thus we are left with a team that will (hopefully) coast through the rest of the AL central and into the waiting arms of the Astros, who have made significant upgrades to their bullpen in addition to waiting for their all star 3rd baseman to come back from injury.

Fuck Jerry Reinsdorf, Eat At Arby’s

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 3 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Twins 8 – White Sox 13

Game 3: Twins 2 – White Sox 4

 

What a wonderful start to the season series against the evil that is the Minnesota Twins. On top of that, the Sox have now swept back to back division opponents and won 8 of their last 10 games in all. Despite that run, Cleveland has gone 9-1 in that same span and is still hanging around one game behind the Sox at the top of the AL Central list. On the flip side is the Twins now sit at the bottom of Shit Mountain, 10 games behind the Sox tied with the lowly Tigers.

The Sox starting pitching has been carrying the load the last few weeks as the offense begins to heat up, so it was nice to see the bats pick up the pitching when Cease and Keuchel had a bit of a stumble in the first two games of the series. The 25 runs the Sox put up boosted their run differential up to +66, good for 1st in the entire American League, with the next closest team being Houston at +45. The numbers look even more impressive when you realize that the Sox are second to last in home runs. So all these runs they’re banging out are being done against the league trend of the Three True Outcomes™ style of offense. Whether this is an adjustment to the deadened balls being trotted out, or a move to a different style of hitting with Luis Robert and Eloy on the shelf I don’t know, but it kicks all kinds of ass.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-Pitchers of the central beware, Jose Abreu is heating up. He had a killer series, going 5-11 with 5 RBI and his first triple in 2 years. He also added a dinger on Wednesday night, making that 3 in his last 6 games. You love to see it.

-We finally had the Billy Hamilton Game on Wednesday, as he went 4-4 with his first extra base hit when he legged out a triple and nearly caught Andrew Vaughn who went 1st to home and looked like I do after playing 30 minutes of tennis. While I don’t expect to see this again, any offense Hamilton generates is a complete bonus and should be treated as such. Good for him, as he’s a pretty easy guy to like.

-Lance Lynn only went 5 innings Thursday and had to go get his hand x-rayed after a comebacker smacked into it. The x-rays were negative and he shouldn’t miss a turn in the rotation.

-Yermin is only batting .386 now, so I think we can all agree he’s a bust.

-Grandal had a very Grandal series, walking 3 times and going 2-7 with a mammoth 3 run shot in game 1. His OPS now stands at .717 with a batting average of .130 which is fucking wild.

-Ole Googly Eyed Andrew Vaughn smoked his career first home run in game 2. He’s now slashing .263/.380/.775 which is MORE than acceptable for a rookie in his first go round in the league. Especially one who thought he was probably going to be DH’ing most of the time, not filling in for Eloy in LF.

-Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel labored through their respective starts, though I will say that the Twins are one of the more patient teams in the league, and they forced the two of them in the zone more often than not. Keuchel in particular (outside of his start against the Reds) has looked very hittable at times. Something to keep an eye on.

-Next up is another 4 games against the tailspinning Royals, who have now lost 11 in a row after getting broomed by the Tigers this week. Kopech will be taking another turn tonight in the second game of the double header. 7 is better than 6 boys, keep it up!

Baseball

VS.

Records: White Sox 16-13 / Royals 16-14

First Pitch: Fri 7:10 / Sat 6:10 / Sun 1:10

TV/Radio: NBCSN and ESPN1000

Smoked Brisket: Royals Review

 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Carlos Rodon (4-0 0.72 ERA) vs. Brad Keller (2-3 8.06 ERA)

Game 2: Lance Lynn (2-1 1.82 ERA) vs. Daniel Lynch (0-0 5.79 ERA)

Game 3: Lucas Giolito (1-3 4.99 ERA) vs. Mike Minor (2-1 4.73 ERA)

 

 

Fresh off an idiotic loss to the Reds on Wednesday, the Sox head Southwest to the land of BBQ and Patrick Mahomes for a three game set against the Royals. It seems that the Sox are arriving in KC at an opportune time, as up until about a week ago the Royals sat atop the AL Central Division. One 5 game losing streak later, and now they’re a half game behind the Sox, and Cleveland has jumped everyone into first place.

In reality, none of this should be surprising. The Royals hot start was really nothing more than a mirage of great BABIP and a bullpen punching WAY above it’s weight. Now that statistics have come home to roost, runs have been in short supply and the pen has been getting it’s dick knocked in the dirt for a week.

All that isn’t to say the Royals lineup isn’t dangerous, because there certainly are some deadly spots in it. Sal Perez is still here, and having a resurgent year so far with 7 home runs on the campaign. Carlos Santana is doing his best Yasmani Grandal impression but with a better batting average. He’s currently slashing a very nice .250/.364/.818 on the year with 6 home runs and 21 RBI. He’s also walked as many times as he’s struck out (20), and somehow stolen a base. I can only imagine the shame of Wilson Ramos as he realized that figure slowly shambling between 1st and 2nd was not a mirage and actually Santana stealing his first base in over 2 years.

Whit Merrifield is still here, a cautionary tale still burning through the best years of his career with a perpetually rebuilding team, as is former Cubs project Jorge Soler, who’s power numbers are down precipitously from the last few seasons. Part of that is his current run of bad luck. His BABIP and wOBA are both around .260, while his actual average is hovering at .195. His hard hit percentage is the highest it’s been in his career at 58%, so he appears to be pretty snakebit right now. Here’s hoping that continues, because when he’s connecting the ball tends to go a long way.

As for the Royals starting pitching, the Sox manage to avoid their “ace,” Danny Duffy, who’s currently enjoying something of a renaissance this year. What the Sox get instead is their old enemy Brad Keller. The last time out, the Sox pummeled Keller for 4 runs in 3 innings on the way to a complete game shutout for Lance Lynn. This time around he gets to face Hard Carl and his 0.72 ERA, while Lynn draws the assignment of the Royals top pitching prospect in Daniel Lynch. Saturday will be the second career start for Lynch, who was the Royals first pick in 2018 (and 4th overall). He’s essentially a 3 pitch starter at this point in his career, with a plus fastball and slider with a changeup that he sprinkles in. The one thing he’s got going against him in this series is that he’s a lefty, though without Luis Robert and Eloy in the lineup the Sox aren’t nearly the Nightmare Fuel for lefties they were last season.

For the White Sox, after their split with the Reds a few days ago they’re 6-4 in the last 10 games. Still looking for ways to fill in the gaping hole left behind by the injury to Luis Robert, Rick Hahn did an admirable job signing Brian Goodwin to a minor league deal.  Goodwin in 2019 was a solid contributor for a mostly punchless Angels squad, slashing .262/.326/.796 in 413 plate appearances with 17 dingers. He played solid defense at all outfield positions, and was a 1.8 WAR player. He’ll spend a week or so at Charlotte getting ramped up for the season, but once he arrives he should provide an excellent stopgap for Hahn until he can swing a bigger deal.

Tim Anderson gets to face his nemesis Keller on Friday night for the first time this season since he was out with a hamstring injury the last series. While he only has a career average of .118 against Keller with the one glorious home run, he’s been pretty hot the last 15 games with a .313/.343/.827 slash line. The fact that he has his OBP higher than his average is a great sign for how Timmy is seeing the ball. Sure would like to have him see a hanger from Keller so he can park that shit in their stupid fountain.

As I mentioned above, the Sox are catching the Royals at exactly the right time. Their pitching has been exposed, and most of their hitting has gone cold. The Sox starters seem to have turned it around, and they line up well against KC this weekend. The table is set for a series win, and they’ll need it to keep up with a suddenly scorching hot Cleveland squad. Hopefully the team can put the shenanigans of Wednesday afternoon in the rearview mirror and punch down on a Royals club that is reeling.

Let’s Go Sox.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Royals 0 – White Sox 6

Game 2: RAINED OUT

Game 3: Royals 4 – White Sox 3 (10 Innings)

 

This shit continues to happen. The Sox bring the heat in the first half of a series against an opponent and are completely unable to close it out in the finale. The bullpen is responsible yet again, as Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks combined to cost the Sox after Adam fucking Eaton was able to bring the team ahead 3-2 with a pinch hit dinger in the bottom of the 8th.

It’s extra frustrating because the team looked so damn good in the home opener on Thursday, with Lance Lynn giving the bullpen the rest it so desperately needed by going the full 9. Yet all the good feelings from that game were washed away with a 4-seamer that caught way too much of the zone to Carlos Santana from the Sox lone big off-season acquisition. He didn’t miss, and the Sox end with a 1-1 split in the rain-shortened series.

I’m pretty sure that Bummer, Marshall and Hendriks aren’t going to be this bad the whole year. I’m pretty sure the Sox aren’t going to be dead last in the league in defense the whole year. I’m absolutely certain the team isn’t going to hit .255 for the rest of the season, and Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada are going to stay below the Mendoza line. All that said, those three things are costing the team games right now, and I’m just hoping those aren’t wins that they’ll desperately need come September.

TO THE BULLETS:

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-Right off the bat, just gotta say that Lance Lynn is one beefy, badass motherfucker. There was not a single point in that game on Thursday night where he didn’t seem completely in control. It certainly helped that the D behind him wasn’t actively trying to sabotage his start, but he was still nails. Scattering 5 hits and no walks over 9 innings with 11 strikeouts is pretty majestic, especially against a team that was averaging over 6 runs per game coming into Thursday night. More please.

-The flip side of that coin is that Dylan Cease still throws too many fucking pitches, and watching his starts feels like waiting for continental drift to take effect. He rarely has any trouble getting ahead in the counts, but once he gets to 2 strikes the nibbling begins. Throw in a few fouled off pitches, and suddenly he’s at 82 in the 4th fucking inning. Cease better tighten it up soon, because…

-Michael Kopech seems nigh unhittable right now. Through 6.1 innings he’s struck out 11, walked 2 and allowed 1 measly hit. Out of the 21 batters he’s faced, only 8 of them have been able to put the bat on the ball. If Cease still can’t give the team quality innings by the time the calendar flips to May, LaRussa could have the decision made for him to move Kopech into the rotation. Bare minimum he may have to think outside the box and go with 6 starters.

-Sure was fun watching Brad Keller and his stupid face get rocked again. Love to see it.

-While Yoan Moncada got his first dinger of the year with a beautiful opposite field jack in the first game, that was the extent of his offensive output for the series. His slash line is now at a very ugly .161/.297/.587. I’m not personally worried about him yet, as he was smoking the ball in spring training but this bears watching.

-Yermin Mercedes has an OPS of 1.451.  Send Tweet.

-Once again, TLR’s Sunday lineup leaves a ton to be desired. There was no reason that Grandal’s bat could not have been in the lineup today. Giving playing time to Zack Collins is admirable, but not at the expense of getting one of your best weapons going offensively. On the plus side, despite the shitty outcome, his bullpen usage was much better. Let’s hope that continues into the next series with…

 

SERIES PREVIEW: Cleveland @ Sox – Divisional Damage

Bob Uecker: Mr. Baseball vs. Juan Marichal | BallNine VS

Records: Cleveland 5-3 / White Sox 4-5

First Pitch: Mon/Tues/Wed 7:10 Thurs 1:10

TV: NBCSN

We’re Not Detroit: Covering The Corner

PROBABLE STARTERS

Monday: Triston McKenzie (0-0, 2.45 ERA) vs Carlos Rodon (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Tuesday: Shane Bieber (0-1, 3.65 ERA) vs Lucas Giolito (1-0, 4.22 ERA)

Wednesday: Aaron Civale (2-0, 2.45 ERA) vs Dallas Keuchel (0-0, 7.00 ERA)

Thursday: Logan Allen (1-1, 2.70 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

 

With the arrival of Cleveland into town tonight, the Sox head into their second divisional opponent of the season sitting on a 4-5 record. The Cleveland Baseball Team currently sits atop the division with a 5-3 record, fresh off a three game sweep of the Tigers at home. Things started out for the ex-tribe about as poorly as they did for the Sox, with Cleveland dropping 3 of their first 4 games, one of which happened with a Miguel Cabrera walk-off dinger in the middle of a blizzard. Since that first series, however, they’ve put it together offensively, scoring 24 runs in their last 4 games.

The Cleveland offense, while not looking like much on paper with the departure of All Universe shortstop Francisco Lindor, still has one of the best hitters in baseball in Jose Ramirez. After a weird down year in 2019 that saw his HR total cut almost in half, his slugging percentage crater to .800, Ramirez got back to his old ways in 2020. He rocked 17 dingers last season, which was only 6 less than he hit in the entirety of 2019, and his OPS came roaring back to .906 which is more the norm for him. Oddly enough, his K% rate was actually the highest of his career, just under 17% (he had averaged 11% up till that point, even in his down year), though some of that could be due to the sample size of the shortened season. He’s picked up where he left off last year, hitting .300 thus far with a pair of HR.

Replacing Lindor is one of the more unenviable tasks out there, and unfortunately for Amed Rosario that duty has fallen squarely in his lap. As part of the return the Mets sent westward for Lindor, Rosario was a former top prospect of the Mets, signed as an international free agent in 2012 out of the DR. He worked his way up through the system, finally making his debut in a September callup in 2016. He was full time with the team in 2017, but didn’t really hit his stride until 2019 where he slashed .287/.323/.755 with 15 HR and 19 SB. He’s a below average fielder, with his best DRS score of -3 coming in 2019. He’s obviously not going to be able to fill the cleats left behind by Lindor, but he’s more than serviceable at SS.

The main story for Cleveland (as it’s always been) is it’s pitching staff, and this year is really no different despite some new names in the rotation. The Sox got a taste of Monday night’s starter Triston McKenzie late last season after they had moved him into the bullpen to save his arm. His fastball is his primary weapon, and his lanky delivery is reminiscent of Garrett Crochet and Chris Sale. He also throws 3 off speed pitches (SL/CB/CH), with the slider being his preferred punch out pitch, but he likes to live upstairs with his fastball.

Night two features the Battle of the Aces, with Shane Bieber facing off against Lucas Giolito. Neither guy has gotten off to the kind of start we’d all come to expect out of them, but the underlying metrics all say that the stuff is fine. The Sox actually have fared fairly well against Bieber the past 2 seasons, going 2-1 against him in 5 starts, scoring 19 runs in that span. Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu both apparently enjoy facing off against him, as they’ve hit a combined 5 HR off him and are both hitting over .310.

As for the Sox, we get to see if Rodon’s first start really was the beginning of a turnaround or just a blip against a sub-par Mariners lineup. Dallas Keuchel also gets his 3rd chance to get out of the 5th inning, and show us all that last year was not just him feasting on a crappy central division.

More importantly, the Sox need to stop stranding runners on base. Especially facing a Cleveland bullpen that typically just doesn’t give much away. The ex-Tribe had the Sox number completely last year, including that disastrous sweep in September that almost ended the Sox playoff hopes. If there was ever a time for the team to put it all together, this is the series for it. Cleveland, while depleted on offense, is still a dangerous team, if only for their ridiculous ability to pull pitchers out of their farm system and turn them into plus plus contributors pretty much at will. There’s enough pop in that lineup to give them the lead, and that’s something their bullpen doesn’t give away. Score early, and score often.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

White Sox 6 – Mariners 0

White Sox 10 – Mariners 4

White Sox 4 – Mariners 8

 

It takes a special kind of fuck up to take a series win like the Sox had and make it feel like they just got swept, yet here we sit. The Sox took the first two games against the Mariners in very high quality fashion, with Carlos Rodon hitting 98 on the gun on night 1, and Jose Abreu launching his 2nd granny of the season in night 2.

Then came the 6th inning in game 3.

With the Sox holding a 4-1 lead, Dallas Keuchel took the mound and promptly gave up a walk and a single, which involved Adam Eaton attempting to throw out Jose Marmolejos at second and it ending up in front of the Mariners bench. That was the end of Keuchel’s day, and in came Matt Foster to attempt to stem the bleeding. 5 hits and two walks later the Sox were down 7-4 and the game was out of reach.

 

TO THE BULLETS:

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-Let’s get this out of the way to start: LaRussa totally left Matt Foster out there to drown. After the game, LaRussa had this to say about the whole situation:

Yeah, no shit.

-The big selling point of having TLR over Ricky Renteria on the bench was the fact that Tony was supposed to be this mad genius working with the bullpen. Leaving Foster out there for 40 pitches and 6 runs while you have Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks, neither of whom had thrown in days, sitting on their hands in the pen is inexcusable. These guys are supposed to be your HIGH LEVERAGE relievers, and you’ve got the game on the line. What in the fuck are you waiting for?

-Also, the lineup that TLR threw out for game 3 made me think it was 2018 again. The rebuild is supposed to be over, and yet Billy Hamilton (who is fine, don’t get me wrong), Jake Lamb and Danny Mendick are all starting. This was insanely apparent when Justin Dunn walked 42 people in 5 innings, yet the Sox could only scratch 4 runs off him.

-Dallas Keuchel is beginning to worry me as well. He has yet to get out of the 6th inning in either of his starts and most of his stuff is up in the zone. Sinking fastballs don’t do much good when they’re letter high. He may still not be stretched out yet, but this definitely is a red flag right now.

-Anyways, Carlos Rodon looked pretty good on Monday night, going 5 strong innings with 9 Ks. His 3 walks all came in the same inning, but he then turned around and struck out the next 3 guys to get himself out of his own jam. Hard Carl indeed.

-Zack Collins had himself a strong series as well, going 3-9 in his two starts with 5 RBI, 3 of which came on a bomb shot in game 2. Once Engel comes back, playing time for guys like Collins and The Yerminator might start being pretty sparse, which sucks because you need them in the lineup right now, especially with the Human Sinkhole playing in RF.

-Lucas Giolito had pretty much the same start as Rodon, giving up 3 and striking out 10 in his 5.1 innings of work. He looked great, but with no Sox starter making out of the 6th inning the bullpen is begging them to last longer. Lance Lynn will get his chance, as he takes the bump on Opening Day on the South Side against the Royals, which leads me to:

 

Series Preview: Royals At White Sox – Homeward Bound

VS

Probable Starters

Thursday: Brad Keller (0-0, 40.50 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Saturday: TBD vs. Dylan Cease (0-0 5.79 ERA)

Sunday: TBD vs. Carlos Rodon (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Coming home in front of fans for the first time since the end of the 2019 season should feel pretty good for the Sox. Getting the fuck out of the West Coast should feel even better. Waiting for them on the South Side are the Kansas City Royals, who sit on a 3-2 record after absolutely blowing the doors off the Rangers in their first series, then splitting with Cleveland in the second. The Royals bats have come out of the gate on fire, scoring 33 runs in their first 5 games. 14 of those runs were scored against the Rangers opening day, with 8 different Royals plating a run in the fracas.

Under normal circumstances, the Royals offense is powered by Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler, with the corpse of Salvador “No Bat Flips” Perez helping out when he can. This season featured the arrival of Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi to the mix. Santana signed as a free agent from Cleveland in January, and the Royals acquired the services of Benintendi from the BoSox in a 3 team trade that sent prospect Khalil Lee to the Mets. The 5 of those guys combined with Hunter Dozier give the Royals (on paper) a pretty decent middle of the batting order. Obviously it’s worked out pretty well thus far.

As far as the pitching staff goes, coach Mike Matheny goes with Brad Keller on Thursday, who will be supremely disappointed to find out that Tim Anderson is on the DL. I’m sure he’ll find someone else on the Sox bench he can throw at. Maybe Yermin? Anyways, Keller got shelled his first start of the season, only lasting 1.1 innings, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs against the Rangers. Keller is a fastball/slider combo guy, who also uses a sinker about 20% of the time. He was converted to a starter in 2018 after the Royals basically ran out of pitchers, and has had decent success there, sporting a 21-23 record with a 3.63 ERA in that span. There isn’t much that’s exciting about Keller, but he keeps the ball in the park and his team in the game.

As for the rest of the starts, Matheny has decided to treat it (as he usually does) like some kind of national secret, preferring to announce the starters day of. Realistically, we can probably expect to see Mike Minor and Brady singer over the weekend. Mike Minor at this point is a known quantity, a career 4.00 ERA kind of pitcher who will give you innings and not much else. Brady Singer, however, is a far more intriguing figure in terms of ability. Singer was the Royals 1st overall pick in 2018, taken 18th out of the University of Florida. He made his debut last year in the covid season and performed pretty admirably going 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA. Right now, Singer works as a two pitch pitcher, primarily a sinker/slider type guy. Both of them are pretty solid, but they could benefit greatly from adding a 3rd option. Over the off-season he added a changeup, which he began throwing in spring training to middling success. If he can refine it, I could very easily see Singer becoming something much more than a back-end starter, which is where he’s currently projected to end up.

As for the Sox, escaping from the West coast with a 3-4 record is not exactly ideal, especially since they very easily could have won 6 of the 7 if the defense had been league average. Sadly, that was not the case and the Sox blew leads in every loss they had. The hitting hasn’t quite come around yet either, with the team stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd like it was going out of style. Combine that with the, shall we say, questionable bullpen management by TLR, and we’re left with a lot more questions than answers thus far.

With Lance Lynn taking the bump today, and an off day tomorrow, the Sox bullpen should hopefully be able to get considerable rest before the weekend. Odds are they’re probably gonna be needed at least on Saturday, with Dylan Cease on the mound. Both him and Rodon had exceptional spring trainings, but only Rodon has carried it over to the regular season this far.

With Tim Anderson officially going on IL yesterday, we can expect to see a lot of Leury Garcia at SS this weekend. Leury has not exactly gotten off to a blazing start so far, going 2-20 with no RBIs. While the Royals have the kind of staff that should theoretically allow Leury to turn stuff around, the Sox are really going to need him and Madrigal to fire up the bottom of the order.

With a week of home cooking for the Sox, it’s a good chance for them to set things right. Hopefully TLR’s issues with the bullpen this far is just him being acclimated to his new crew and how relievers in general are being utilized in today’s MLB. The Sox starters are better than anything the Rangers throw out there, so theoretically the Royals hitters should have a more difficult time finding pitches to drive. Now’s the time to right the ship and take that first real steps towards the postseason. Get it done.

LET’S GO SOX

Baseball

VS

RECORDS: White Sox 2-4 / Royals 3-4

START TIMES: Fri 7:05, Sat 6:05, Sun 1:05

TV: NBCSCH

Are You Missouri Or Are You Kansas: Royals Review

 

Probable Starters

Friday: Dallas Keuchel vs. Kris Bubic

Saturday: Gio Gonzalez vs. TBD

Sunday: Dylan Cease vs. TBD

 

Heading into the second weekend of the season, did anyone out there pick the Royals to have a better record than the Sox? Put your hands down, you’re a goddam liar. Anyways that’s where we currently sit, with the Royals having one more win than the SouthSiders coming into Friday night’s tilt. Granted, they’re coming off a 4 game swing against the Tigers, but Ws are Ws and they have more.

This is a team that’s actively battling the Tigers and Orioles for the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft, and is throwing everything at the wall this season to see what’s going to stick for the future. Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler are basically the only pieces that are worth anything and yet the Royals don’t seem interesting in moving them for parts. They’re also the only two members of the lineup currently hitting, so the Sox starters should probably keep that in mind.

On the pitching side of things, the Royals have brought up their prized rookie pitcher Brady Singer who started the other night against the Tribe, giving up 2 in five innings and keeping the Cleveland bats off stride. Other than him, it’s a bunch of rookies and journeymen (and Danny Duffy, who’s still around so fantasy baseball writers can list him as a potential breakout each year) that they’ll toss out each night. This is evidenced by the fact that they have TBD penciled in as their starter in 2 of the 3 nights against the Sox.

The most obnoxious elements of last year’s dustup with Tim Anderson are still here, so we’ll at least have a little drama to eyeball. Fingers crossed Timmy hits a few bombs and pimps the living shit out of each one. Professional curmudgeon Ned Yost has grabbed his hobo bindle and fucked off into the sunset, but he got replaced by Mike Matheny (who’s basically the same guy) so most of the Sox players can expect to get thrown at and then lectured about how to play the game the “right way.”

For the Sox, the story is the same. If the starting pitching can keep from giving up 5 runs in the first 2 innings the odds of victory go up exponentially. Just don’t walk anyone not named Merrifield or Soler and things should go swimmingly. Cease and Gonzalez have the perfect lineup to bounce back against and build some confidence and momentum going forward. Keuchel just needs to repeat his performance against the Twins and he should be able to keep the Royals bats at bay.

For the Sox hitters, they’re facing a starter Friday night that’s never pitched above the high A ball level and I guarantee he’s never seen anything like Luis Robert or Yoan Moncada. This is a rotation and bullpen just asking to be pummeled into submission, so a little patience at the plate and they should crumble like the argument of a facebook science denier. Now that I’ve said all that, I fully expect the Sox to have 12 hits total over the course of the series because life is pain and we are in The Bad Place.

Of course, this all could be a moot point thanks to the announcement today that the Cardinals and Brewers game is postponed due to at least two Cards players testing positive for The Rona. All while the Marlins are bussing 20 players positive with the virus home to Miami. Can you imagine actually wanting to stay in Philadelphia instead of going home to Miami because the hospitals are nicer? Welcome to 2020!

 

 

Baseball

Seeing as this is my last spotlight of the season, and it happens to be a meaningless series for both teams (with the notable exception of Tim Anderson) and most likely for both fan bases I thought I’d eschew the normal spotlight (and honestly, who am I gonna spotlight for the Tigers? The bullpen catcher?) and instead peer into the murky future of the American League central division for the year 2020.

Granted this is only a quick glance, as this season is not complete yet and there’s still free agency to go, but we can get a blurry picture of what will stand in between the last year (hopefully) of the White Sox rebuild and the promised land of MLB post season play. I’ll also leave the Sox out of this as I still want to have something to write about later on other than how amazing Jimmy Garoppolo and the undefeated 49ers are playing (I kid) (sort of).

 

DETROIT TIGERS:

How’d They Do This Season?

Not wanting to keep anyone in suspense, the Tigers decided it would be best if they locked up the first overall pick in next June’s entry draft a full week before the season ended. In addition, they’re almost a lock to win less than 50 games for the second time in team history since the league expanded the schedule to 162 games back in 1961. The team run differential is currently a hilarious -320, with the next closest team being Baltimore at a sparkling -259. Essentially if tanking a baseball season were an art the Tigers would be Picasso, Monet, Da Vinci and Van Gough rolled into one.

What’s Their Shopping List?

Much as the night is darkest just before the dawn (thanks, Harvey Dent), the Tigers just need to push through this rebuild to the other side. Seeing as though GM Al Avila has already traded away anything that wasn’t nailed down, their shopping list should just read as “parts.” They should be looking to sign the type of players the Sox have the past few seasons. Reclamation projects on 1 year deals that can be flipped at the deadline for anything of value. Aging veterans on the downside of their career looking for bounce back deals. If the Tigers could find 3 or 4 guys like Nick Markakis or Charlie Morton they’d be good to go.

What’s Their Prognosis?

DOA.

Unless the Tigers completely abandon their current rebuild and throw all the money at free agents in the off-season this team is destined to lose another 100 games next year. Some help may be on the way from AAA as the Tigers are pretty loaded with pitching prospects, but offensively they are going to continue to be offensive.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS:

How’d They Do This Season?

The Royals are about a year ahead of the Tigers in their rebuild, as they’re gonna end up in almost the exact same place they were this time last year. 2018 saw them winning 58 games total, and that’s where they sit right now as of this article being penned. So what do they get for losing 100+ games back to back years? Odds are it’s the #4 overall pick in the draft, as they just aren’t as shitty as the Tigers, Orioles or the Marlins. They just don’t have the tank game down pat like Detroit does, as they’ve actually managed to win double digit games in September. In happier news, manager Ned Yost decided he was going to hang up his clown shoes and head off into the sunset as he announced his retirement a few days ago. Good riddance, asshat. You won’t be missed.

What’s Their Shopping List?

The Royals are an interesting case here, and kind of a wild card. With the team about to be sold by penny-pinching skinflint David Glass it’s not totally clear what path the new ownership wants to chart through the muddy waters of their rebuild. The Royals have some good pieces on this team offensively, with Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier all above 2 WAR in production. The pitching staff is a wasteland of guys like Danny Duffy, and the team overall is 24th in the league in pitching. So unless the new ownership wants to go and sign both Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler odds are the Royals should probably do what Rick Hahn did this season and look to guys like Ivan Nova to fill out the holes.

What’s Their Prognosis?

On life support.

If the new ownership goes bananas and buys up all the shiny new pitchers in sight and nobody regresses on the offense and you squint really hard then potentially this team could compete in 2020 for maybe a wild card? Odds are they take a step forward and only lose about 95 games next year. Their window is 2021 more likely.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

How’d They Do This Season?

Good, but just maybe (hopefully) not good enough. As of writing this, the Indians are a game and a half back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the 2nd wild card spot in the American League. As usual, the Tribe sit in the top 5 of the league in pitching thanks to lusciously locked Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber and a solid bullpen. Offensively the team is a solid +135 in run differential despite the year long struggles of Jose Ramirez.  They swung an interesting deal at the deadline, sending Twitter Edgelord Trevor Bauer to the Reds and recieving Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes in return to shore up a barren outfield. Was it enough? Doesn’t look like it.

What’s Their Shopping List?

A lot of what Cleveland does this off-season depends on what they think of Francisco Lindor and his contract. If they want to extend him this, this is the off-season where it will happen. If he’s not amenable to a new deal, then I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the Tribe shopping him and Cory Kluber at the winter meetings in December. Those two could bring the type of MLB ready pieces that could keep this team at or near the top of the AL Central division for a few years to come. If they don’t shop either of those two, they’re still one bat short in the outfield, but as they’re a fairly thrifty team don’t expect them to be in on anything above the Adam Eaton level.

What’s Their Prognosis?

Stable

The Indians have been a model franchise along with the Oakland A’s for keeping payroll down and competitiveness up. They aren’t afraid to move players who are going to price themselves out of the Indian’s budget and GM Mike Chernoff has done a pretty solid job of getting a good return on those pieces. I would expect the Tribe to compete for the AL Central crown next season, especially if the horseshoe that currently resides in the ass of the Twins offense falls back to earth. Can they compete with the likes of the Astros and Yankees? No, but for a team like Cleveland that’s not the goal.

MINNESOTA TWINS

How’d They Do This Season?

God I hate this fucking team. Somehow they managed to lead the league in slugging for about 95% of the season before a late tear by the juggernaut offense of the Astros went by them. They still ended up 4th in the league for hitting, 3rd in the AL. They also won the AL central by a fair margin, and will most likely be facing the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs before being dusted like half the planet when Thanos snapped his fingers.

What’s Their Shopping List?

The same thing it is for the Twins every off-season, pitching. Not since the days of Johan Santana and Joe Nathan have the Twins been able to produce pitchers worth 4+ WAR. This season looks to be the one when Jose Berrios finally took that step forward and became the ace they were hoping him to be, even though he’s been beaten like a drum since the calendar flipped to August. Jake Odorizzi will probably end up a 4 WAR pitcher, but as he’s a free agent he’s likely gone. Brusdar Graterol might be the next one to grab the reigns but he’s only started 3 games so far and is largely untested. Michael Pineda was solid most of the year until he got busted for a banned substance. So while the Twins should probably be throwing bags of money at Garret Cole, they’ll most likely end up with someone like Brett Anderson or Tanner Roark.

What’s Their Prognosis?

Good (sadly)

Despite half their rotation most likely gone via free agency next season (Odorizzi, Gibson) or suspended (Pineda), the Twins are set to be annoyingly good for years to come. Their offense is young and powerful, and most importantly for them, under team control for the foreseeable future. Perhaps this is the off-season where the Twins spend the money to buy themselves another ace, or the perhaps swing a deal for one involving their 2 prized offensive prospects Alex Kirillof or Royce Lewis. If that were to happen this team could become a monster with legitimate world series aspirations. Either way they have enough offense to keep them involved in the playoff picture for the time being, making the Twins the most likely challenger for the White Sox if they want to own the AL Central from 2020 on out.

 

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: Royals 53-91  White Sox 63-80

GAMETIMES: Tues/Wed 7:10, Thursday 1:10

TV: Tues/Wed NBCSN, Thursday WGN

Are You Missouri Or Are You Kansas: Royals Review

SERIES PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts & Pitching Staffs

Royals Spotlight: David Glass

Talk about your must see TV. A mid September battle between two of the AL’s worst should pull in the viewers, right? Coming into this series, the Royals are on somewhat of a roll, having won their last 3 series in a row. Granted those 3 series were against the Orioles, Tigers, and Marlins, so it’s not like they’ve exactly been slaying the dragons. The Sox actually present their stiffest challenge since losing 3 of 4 to the A’s at the end of last month. One of those losses to Oakland involved the Royals giving up 19 runs, which leads into their biggest issue right now, which is run prevention.

The Royals have languished at the bottom third of the league in pitching since the All-Star break giving up an average of 5.2 runs per game. In comparison, the Sox have rocketed to the top third on the wings of Lucas Giolito and a revitalized Reynaldo Lopez, averaging 4.8 runs a game. The only decent starters in the back half of the season for the Royals have been Jake Junis and Brad Keller, each worth 1 WAR a piece. Unfortunately for Royals fans, the team has shut Keller down as he’s reached his career high in innings pitched with 165, which is 20 innings more than he pitched in 2018. The Sox will see Junis, Jorge Lopez, and moon-faced yahoo Glenn Sparkman, who as you’ll recall plunked Tim Anderson in the dome last time the two teams met and was summarily ejected.

Offensively the Royals are 25th in the league in hitting, a whopping 1 position higher than the White Sox. Jorge Soler quite possibly may have finally reached the potential he always flashed in his time with the Cubs. He’s sitting on 41 home runs thus far, with 102 RBIs which is extra impressive considering he’s only had Hunter Dozier and Whit Merrifield to knock in, as everyone else is lost in the dugout tunnel. Merrifield in particular is having another standard year for himself, getting on base at his usual prodigious clip (.364). Hunter Dozier is also having a breakout year, worth 3.4 WAR so far.

For the White Sox, they’ll send out the best of their starters with Nova, Lopez and Giolito scheduled to take the bump. Hopefully all three will get the offensive support that the Sox flashed in their weekend series against the Angels. Tim Anderson continues his quest for the AL batting title, and this is the perfect pitching staff for him to do that with. Ricky Renteria has talked about putting Moncada back in the leadoff spot, which, whatever. He can definitely get on base, but I’d rather have someone else there as Yoan is more valuable knocking in the runs. I’m curious as to which Eloy Jimenez we’ll get this season, as the one that showed against the Angels was not optimal, but the one against the Indians was cash money.

This is the final meeting of the season between these two teams, and with the Sox holding a 2 game edge all they have to do is win one for the season series. While winning the bare minimum has been the Sox modus operandi thus far I say fuck that, take all 3 and drive home the point that having fun in baseball is not a bad thing and Tim Anderson has more personality then your whole fucking city. Except for maybe Patrick Mahomes.  He’s cool.