Baseball

Twins VS.

Records: Twins 30-18/Sox 30-16

Start Times: Mon-Wed 7:10/Thurs 1:10

TV: NBCSN

Circle My Ass, Bert: Twinkie Town

PROBABLE STARTERS:

Monday: Jose Berrios (4-3, 4.40 ERA) vs. Dylan Cease (5-2, 3.33 ERA)

Tuesday: Randy Dobnak (6-3, 3.61 ERA) vs. Dane Dunning (1-0, 2.70 ERA)

Wednesday: Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 8.33 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (4-2, 3.43 ERA)

Thursday: Kenta Maeda (5-1, 2.43 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (6-2, 2.19 ERA)

 

AND WE’RE BACK! After a brief hiatus to decide the future of the blog after Dale Tallon managed to Milkshake Duck his way into the Shitty Hockey GM Hall Of Fame, we’ve decided to just say “fuck it” and power ahead. Thank you all for patiently waiting for us to figure out the future of the blog, and I’m extraordinarily excited to keep being able to do this for the 38 of you that regularly read my shit.

What a perfect time to come back, as the Sox head into what might be the most important series of this entire screwed up year. With a 1 game lead on the Twins heading into this 4 game set, it’s imperative for the Sox to prove that they can do more than just pummel the Tigers and Royals 20 games a year. While it’s true that those are historically games the Sox would biff and ultimately cost them a trip to the postseason, with a playoff birth virtually in hand it’s time to show the rest of the league they can throw elbows with the top end talent as well.

The Sox come into this series on a roll again, having won 8 of their last 10 games and averaging just under 7 runs a game. While those are some gaudy offensive numbers, runs against the Twins pitching staff will not be as easily had. Kenta Maeda has been absolutely nails for the Twins this season, and is giving Dallas Keuchel a run for his money as “Best Free Agent Signing In The AL Central.” Jose Berrios has also rounded back into form recently, as he’s overcome his wildness in the beginning of the season and sports a 3.79 ERA with 48 K’s over his last 7 starts.

Tuesday night presents the Battle of The Bespectacled Batterymates, as Randy Dobnek takes on Dane Dunning. Dobnek has been another example of found money for the Twins this season, as he started out as a candidate for 6th starter but managed to deal his way up the rotation after Rich Hill turned out to be actually made of glass. He’s come back to earth in his last few starts, giving up 12 runs in his last 3 when he’d only allowed 6 in his previous 6 combined.

Wednesday’s starter is still TBA, but the assumption is Jake Odorizzle is going to be coming off the IL, much the same way the Sox starter for Thursday is TBA but everybody knows it’s gonna be Keuchel unless he has a setback. Odorizzi hadn’t been much to write home about even before he went on the IL, sporting an 8+ ERA, with his K rate falling to a career low 19.6% and batters hitting a cool .326 against him. While his FIP suggests he’s the victim of some bad luck, it’s still at 6.14 so there’s some fire to that smoke.

As for the Sox, Dylan Cease kicks things off tonight with his tightrope act of somehow having a 3.33 ERA despite the eye test (and his FIP at 5.95) saying otherwise. Ben Clemens at Fangraphs put out an excellent article today taking a dive under the hood and explaining why despite having such a great spin rate on his fastball, it’s not moving at all or resulting in any strikeouts.

The Sox are either going to need his luck to continue, or ambush Berrios right out of the gate. Both are possible, and a combination of the two would be wonderful. Getting 6 innings out of Cease is going to be necessary, as there’s no guarantee that Dunning will be able to eat any extra innings Tuesday, and the bullpen needs all the rest it can get, as Jimmy Cordero is about to collapse into a pile of ash.

It will be interesting to see how Lucas Giolito handles the Twins this time around. It’s his 3rd start against them, and the first two really weren’t anything to write home about. With the amount of preparation, and as cerebral as he is, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him have a different plan this week than the “fastball/changeup” pairing he’s been riding recently. If he can make it out of the 1st inning with 20 pitches or less, I like the odds of a quality start.

On the offensive side of the ball, fingers crossed Jose Abreu can continue his quest for the American League MVP, and Tim Anderson can stay ahead of DJ LeMahieu in the race for another batting title. It also seems as though Yoan Moncada is starting to shake off some of the COVID effects he’s been dealing with over the past months, as his doubles power returned this last series against the Tigers.

Luis Robert is dealing with his first slump of the season, as he’s gone 4-25 in his last 7 games. While this is to be expected for a rookie, it would be nice to see him perhaps take a few more pitches in his at bats. When Nick Madrigal has a higher slugging percentage than you do over the last 10 games, it might be time to make an adjustment to your plate approach.

All that being said, as long as the offense can continue to hit the stitches off the ball they stand a good chance of at least splitting this series with the Twins, which at this point should be the absolute bare minimum bar for success. Time is running out on this bastardized season, and taking 3 of 4 from Minnesota would go a long way towards quieting the haters who say the White Sox can only beat up on shitty teams (and the Cubs).

 

And for the love of fuck, please don’t throw Nelson Cruz anything in the strike zone.

LET’S GO SOX

Baseball

   Twins VS.

 

2019 Series Record: Twins 12 – Sox 6

Gametimes: Friday 7:10, Saturday/Sunday 1:10

TV: NBCSCH (Which I guess is the new branding for NBCSN.)

Circle This, Bert: Puckett’s Pond

Probable Starters

Friday: Jose Berrios vs. Lucas Giolito

Saturday: Rich Hill vs. Dallas Keuchel

Sunday: Kenta Maeda vs. Reynaldo Lopez

 

Four months later than it was supposed to be, opening day is finally here. We’ve gone over ad nauseam the threats that COVID still poses to the season, as evidenced by Juan Soto testing positive just before first pitch yesterday against the Yankees. Sam even talked about the insanity of it all over at his new home yesterday. Yet despite all this, baseball really is back for the time being and if there’s Sox baseball to be watched, I’m going to watch it.

Which brings us to their first opponent of the season, and the biggest obstacle standing between them and their first playoff birth in what seems like an eternity: The Fucking Minnesota Twins. As noted above, the Twins pretty much dominated the Sox last season taking 2/3rds of the games in pretty handy fashion. The Twins bats (which had the kind of pop only seen in The Show 2020 while playing the Orioles on Rookie) were way too much for anyone not named Lucas Giolito. The Sox offense, while infinitely improved from the season before, still struggled to get the clutch hits that could’ve leveled the playing field against their hated rivals.

So what’s changed since last season? For the Sox, the addition of Yasmani Grandal should go a loooong way to help the young staff against the plutonium bats of Minnesota. Dallas Keuchel should also help keep the ball on the ground instead of plonking off the side of the giant goose head in right field. Oh, and some kid named Luis Robert will be playing in his first MLB game tonight. You might have heard of him, or seen this ridiculous home run he hit while falling on his ass the other day:

 

For the Twins, their attempt to surround staff ace Jose Berrios with something other than a bunch of reclamation projects ended with adding Kenta Maeda (who is good, but has spent his last few years coming out of the Dodgers bullpen) and Rich Hill (who’s fastball routinely topped out at 72 mph before he had major elbow surgery in the offseason). The Twins also decided that they didn’t hit the ball far enough last season so they added Josh Donaldson to the mix. Donaldson had a nice bounceback season last year after signing a one year “prove it” deal with the Braves, but isn’t exactly the piece that the Twins should’ve been looking for after their rotation was pummeled by the Yankees in the postseason.

Shockingly, Byron Buxton is already hurt after tripping over the mysterious lump in center at Target Field where the Twins may or may not have buried the bodies of Kirby Puckett’s accusers. He appears to have dodged major injury, but it’s probably only a matter of time before he runs into the outfield wall and all his limbs fly off. Miguel Sano had a case of the Rona, but (much like Yoan Moncada) appears to be ready to go this weekend. His move to 1b will certainly help a Twins infield that ranked in the middle of the pack defensively last season. Max Kepler appears ready to make the leap into the upper echelon of American League outfielders, as long as Buxton doesn’t detonate too close to him.

With the season being such a compressed mess, to have any hope of the playoffs the Sox have to start off on a good note. Taking 2 out of 3 against their biggest rival in the division would go a long way to setting the tone. Berrios has ace level stuff, but tailed off drastically at the end of last season. Rich Hill can be gotten to, and if the Sox are patient they can wait out Maeda and make it to a bullpen that at times was pretty shaky last year.

We all know the kind of pop the Twins bats have, so Giolio, Keuchel and Lopez have their work cut out for them. The Sox bullpen is still a work in progress, so the longer those 3 can go the better. Grandal should be able to provide some much needed framing strikes for Reynaldo Lopez, so let’s hope we get the dominant version of him that keeps his fastball at the top of the zone where it’s nigh unhittable.

Questions abound for the Sox this season, hopefully a few of them get positive answers this weekend against the Twins. The sprint to the World Series begins now. Let’s Go Sox.