Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Astros 7 – White Sox 1

Game 2: Astros 1 – White Sox 10

Game 3: Astros 0 – White Sox 4

 

Much better.

It’s pretty amazing how good the Sox record is when they hit 2+ home runs in a game. After this weekend they’re now 21-2 with multiple long balls in a single setting, and yet the team overall is 23rd in the league in that category with a measly 99 dingers. I don’t quite know as a hitting coach how you can preach hitting the long ball more, but maybe it’s something they should…look into? Or maybe not, since the team is 3rd in the league in overall offensive WAR. Whatever, just keep winning.

By taking 2 of 3 over the weekend, the Sox salvage what could’ve been a complete disaster of a season series against the cast of Stomp. Things looked pretty bleak Friday evening, as it was more of the same against the Astros with Dylan Cease pitching pretty well, but the offense completely shut down by Lance McCullers. Throw in some seriously boneheaded defense by Leury Garcia, and it sure did feel like the Sox were gonna lose all 7 games.

BUT!

The Sox bats came alive the next night, and Lucas Giolito did his best Gandalf impersonation by tossing a complete game 1-run win.

Carlos Rodon picked up the sword and staff on Sunday and did the same, slaying the Balrog of Mordor (Texas) in 7 solid innings of 1 hit ball. Nothing but praise for the performance of the team Saturday and Sunday, and a great start to the back end of the season. Oh, and the Sox extended Our Beefy Boy Lance Lynn by 2 years with a team option on a 3rd. WOOT.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

GAME 1

-Dylan Cease deserved a better fate than what he ended up with on Friday night, but sometimes that’s how the glorious game of baseball treats you. I’ll take 5 2/3rds of 10K ball against one of the best offenses in the league 10 out of 10 times, and even the 3 runs he gave up were aided and abetted by Leury Garcia. Keep getting this kind of production from him and the rotation is looking even more dangerous than it did in the 1st half.

-Things actually started out pretty awesome in this game, as the Sox were up 1-0 after the first two pitches from McCullers. Timmy smoked a triple into the corner, and was brought home next pitch with a double from Yoan Moncada. Alas, you could’ve turned off the game at that point and not missed anything else as McCullers owned the Sox for the rest of the evening.

-Leury Garcia did not exactly smother himself in glory in this game, failing to cover 2nd base for a force out that could’ve ended the 3rd inning. Later on he cut in front of TA on a grounder, biffing the play and allowing the inning to continue. He also managed to go 0-3 with a strikeout, hammering home the point that an everyday second baseman should be a priority for Rick Hahn in the next few weeks.

-Tough night for Brain Goodwin as well, wearing the Golden Sombrero for the first time this season. He’s still the best move (other than DFA-ing Adam Eaton) that Rick Hahn has made so far this season, and it’s not like anyone else looked great in this game either.

-Not a great first night back for Aaron Bummer, as he was all over the fucking place. Then Jose Ruiz came in to “clean up” the mess, and instead threw a packed baby diaper into a lidless blender. Unless something changes in the next 3 months, there should not be a postseason roster spot for him.

GAME 2

-Lucas Giolito was fantastic in this one, fluctuating between economical and strikeout heavy depending on the situation. His fastball still didn’t have the movement it did last season, but the overall accuracy was back at a premium level. He even threw his curve a few times, which we haven’t seen in awhile. The Astros hitters were completely off balance, and Lucas never let them get a sniff of getting back into the game.

-Almost everybody showed up to hit tonight, and Jake Odorizzi paid the price for it. He didn’t help himself by losing control of the strike zone in the 3rd inning, but by then the damage had already been done with back to back dingers by Zack Collins and Tim Anderson. It only got worse from there for the ‘Stros pitching as Jose Abreu and Gavin Sheets piled on.

-Really the only person who didn’t join in on the hit parade was Andrew Vaughn, but he made great contact all night, and was just barely missing barreling up a few pitches. He’s SOOOO close to exploding all over this league (phrasing).

-Jake Burger hit his first career home run, and it was a BOMB. What an awesome story, and I couldn’t be happier for the guy.

GAME 3

-Carlos Rodon woke up Sunday morning and chose violence. The Astros hitters could not get a bead on what he was throwing, with poor Yordan Alvarez in particular regretting leaving the hotel room in the morning. All told ‘Los struck out 10, averaging 97 on his 4 seamer, topping out at 100.5 in the 6th inning. He now has 14 starts this season with 8 or more K’s, with nobody else (including Pitching Jesus Jake deGrom) having more than 11.

-Oh look, another dinger by TA. The power is showing up now, with 14 total bases on the weekend (1 1B, 1 2B 1 3B 2 HR). His BABIP is now at a hilarious .397 on the season, but if you still think the regression monster is coming for him you haven’t been paying attention. He’s just a special hitter with amazing plate coverage.

-Yoan Moncada went yard from the right side of the plate in the 4th inning, firing a laser beam into the 4th row in LF. Keep elevating that ball, and the damage will only grow.

-If it wasn’t hard enough for the Houston offense to deal with Rodon, the next 2 up for them were Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks to close out the afternoon. Hilarious.

-Awesome catch by Billy Hamilton in the 8th to allow a 1-2-3 inning for Kopech. When it’s crunch time in the playoffs and the Sox need someone to save their bacon in the OF, he’s the guy.

 

Next up is another 4 games against the goddam Twins. I hate them and I’m sick of them. Grind their bones into dust and bury them at the bottom of the AL Central. Fuck Josh Donaldson and his stupid face.

 

Let’s Go Sox!

 

 

 

Baseball

Now we move on to the section of the diamond with approximately zero remaining starters from Spring Training. The turnover ratio in the White Sox outfield has reached a level usually reserved for Amazon warehouse employees and White House spokespeople. The dearth of injuries has provided quite a few opportunities for guys who would’ve just been role players to step up and help the team.

And then there’s Adam Eaton.

 

ADAM EATON

.201/.298/.642

9.1% BB Rate / 25.3% K rate

5 HR/ 28 RBI / 33 R

.288 wOBA / 82 wRC+ / 0.3 WAR

I only put Eaton here to highlight what an absolutely terrible signing he was to begin with. With Rick Hahn’s yearly attempt to beat out the market by being done with his free agent signings before Christmas, the Sox ended up overpaying for a player that’s produced half the value than a guy that was CUT BY THE FUCKING PIRATES. Getting DFA’ed in the opening weeks of July shows that Rick Hahn can at least admit when he’s made a mistake, but unfortunately he doesn’t learn from them as this is the 2nd year in a row he’s put a band-aid on what was a mortar wound in RF.

GRADE: F….uck off forever

 

ANDREW VAUGHN

.253/.320/.772

8.1% BB Rate / 25.0% K Rate

10 HR / 28 RBI / 36 R

.331 wOBA / 112 wRC+ / 0.9 WAR

I don’t like giving Tony LaRussa too much credit (because I don’t think he does much more than just sit there most of the time), but his handling of Andrew Vaughn this season deserves praise. You can see him developing at an exponential rate as the season progresses, and a good amount is helped by how Tony uses and shelters him in the lineup. Vaughn was already a masher of left handed pitching, but in the month of July his splits against righties has exploded. Just look at his slash line against RHP in June vs July:

June: .182/.191/.487  1HR  27 wRC+ (ouch)

July: .393/.419/1.205  3HR  219 wRC+ (holy shit)

On top of all these offensive corrections he’s making, the defense he’s playing in LF (a position he’d never played before) is slightly above league average. Which, if you think about everything else going on with him is absolutely insane. The kid is going to be a monster, and his new positional eligibility solves a lot of issues for the organization. Awesome.

GRADE: A

BILLY HAMILTON

.230/.253/.667

3.2% BB Rate / 32.3% K Rate

2 HR / 10 RBI / 16 R

.282 wOBA / 78 wRC+ / 0.4 WAR

After Eloy went down with his pec tear back in March, I wrote about potential replacements for him. When I mentioned Billy Hamilton, I basically said that if he was going to be an everyday OF for the White Sox they have bigger issues than that. Just looking at his body of work, what I said still holds true. That doesn’t mean that Billy hasn’t brought value to the Sox, it’s actually quite the opposite.

He’s had some seriously clutch hits, plays excellent defense in the OF, and is still a serious threat on the basepaths. His .253 OBP leaves something to be desired, but that’s been the case throughout his career so it’s not an outlier by any means. He’s also just a really good dude, and very fun to root for. Exactly what you want out of a bench player, and when Eloy comes back I’m hoping he sticks around. He’s the kind of unsung hero that can make memorable moments in the postseason.

GRADE: C+

ADAM ENGEL

.286/.340/.690

2.1% BB Rate / 14.9% K Rate

5 HR / 11 RBI / 10 R

.424 wOBA / 173 wRC+ / 0.7 WAR

Adam Engel has only played in 13 games thus far this season, so the stats as shown are somewhat misleading. Except for the dingers. 5 HR in 13 games (while probably unsustainable) is pretty impressive. What else is impressive is (Much like Andrew Vaughn) that Engel is starting to hit right handed pitching at a higher rate than ever before in his career. In those 13 games he’s played, he’s actually batting .333 against RHP vs .221 against LHP. 3 of his 5 dingers have come off righties as well. Again, a very small sample size…but an encouraging one.

GRADE: Incomplete

BRIAN GOODWIN

.267/.353/.864

11.7% BB Rate / 21.4% K Rate

4 HR / 15 RBI / 17 R

.370 wOBA / 137 wRC+ / 0.6 WAR

All the kudos to Rick Hahn for very clearly having Brian Goodwin on his radar even before every tendon in Luis Robert’s hips exploded like a rubber band ball being chainsawed in half. He really didn’t waste much time signing him to a deal after the Pirates (for some reason) moved on from him at the beginning of the year. Goodwin had a very good run in 2019 with the Angels with 17 home runs in 130 games, but was sent to the Reds in an off-season deal. He had less luck with them, as he was treated as a placeholder for Jessie Winker and Nick Senzel.

His time with the Sox has been successful by any metric that you want to use, but I’m most impressed with his patience at the plate. The 11.7% BB rate would be the highest of his career, and he credits his time in the minor leagues as giving him the impetus to overhaul his approach at the plate. It’s working, and the Sox are reaping the benefits. He’s a keeper for sure.

GRADE: A

LEURY GARCÍA

.263/.330/.699

9.3% BB Rate / 25.5% K Rate

3 HR / 39 RBI / 36 R

.308 wOBA / 96 wRC+ / 1.2 WAR

A lot has been asked of Leury Legend this season with the amount of injuries to Sox starters this year. He had a pretty rough start to the season, but once the calendar month began with “J” he’s come on strong. The power he showed last season really hasn’t appeared yet, but he’s getting on base at a good clip and plays at least league average defense at multiple places around the diamond. Once (hopefully) people start coming back healthy, Leury can be used where he fits best: as a day of rest for everyone on the diamond. You can’t go wrong with someone who is positionally flexible like him, and Hahn did a good job keeping him on the roster.

GRADE: B+

 

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

 

Gametimes: Thursday 9:05 / Friday 8:38 / Saturday 8:07 / Sunday 7:37 (I don’t get it either)

TV: Thursday-Saturday NBCSN / Sunday ESPN

We Got Rocks In Our Outfield: Halos Heaven 

 

Probable Starters

Thursday: Lucas Giolito (4-3, 3.48 ERA) vs. Dylan “Al” Bundy (6-3, 3.29 ERA)

Friday: Dallas Keuchel (6-2, 1.99 ERA) vs. Andrew Heaney (4-3, 4.46 ERA)

Saturday: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (2-5, 4.30 ERA)

Sunday: Dylan Cease (5-4, 4.01 ERA) vs. Shohei Ohtani (0-1, 37.81 ERA)

 

 

After what seems like an eternity, White Sox baseball will finally return to us tonight as the boys take on Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Southern California But Not Including LA Or San Diego Really Just Disneyland And A 2 Mile Stretch Of The 405. After an off-season that featured the Sox punting on all the good toys except for the closer that is awesome but they really didn’t need, and Eloy going on the IL for attempting to rob a home run in spring training that would’ve required the Silver Surfer’s board to catch we finally get to see what the results of a 4 year rebuild gets us.

Because make no mistake, the ultimate goal for this team in 2021 is nothing short of wresting the division away from the playoff chokers to the North. Anything less than that should (and will) be deemed a failure by the fanbase and hopefully the front office. The Sox have a boatload of homegrown talent, and have spent a little money here and there to address (some) issues to fill out what should be a very fun and powerful lineup, but unless the results are there the misery of 2016-19 will all have been for naught.

Lucas Giolito will take the bump tonight against the best the Halos have to offer, which is Dylan Bundy. While on the surface that statement seems ridiculous, (much like Lance Lynn) Bundy has reinvented himself the past two seasons, dropping his ERA by almost a full point and a half since escaping from Camden Yards. Developing a new approach to attacking hitters with more of his off-speed stuff as opposed to relying on his two seamer worked wonders for Bundy last season. He was able to lower his BB/9 and raise his K rate by more than 1 each with his new approach, and his FIP of 2.92 shows that it probably wasn’t a fluke.

Sunday night will feature the return to the mound of the two-way international star Shohei Ohtani, and the Angels have been waiting quite awhile for his double debut. After being felled by Tommy John surgery back in 2018, Ohtani was able to serve as a DH during his rehab in 2019, though it clearly affected his ability to hit for power. 2020 was supposed to be his triumphant return to the mound, but it ended almost as soon as it began with a flexor strain in his forearm that took over two months to heal. Acting with an overabundance of understandable caution, the Halos shut him down completely. He’s looked pretty healthy thus far in his return to the mound in spring training, striking out 17 in 10 innings pitched. He’s also pounded out 5 dingers from the offensive side of the plate, so all eyes will be on him Sunday night to see if it’s the real deal.

As always with the Angels, however, it’s all about Mike Trout. While he’s had some competition from Mookie Betts recently for the title of Best In The World, he still hasn’t lost it yet. While having a down year (for him) in 2020, he still managed to post a 162 wRC+ rating and a 2.5 WAR season. Having Anthony Rendon and a healthy Ohtani around him should only offer more protection and opportunities to drive in runs, and the White Sox staff will be well aware of his presence in the lineup I’m sure.

As for the Sox, prized prospect Andrew Vaughn had his contract selected by the team yesterday so there will be no service time shenanigans with him. With the loss of Eloy, Vaughn is expected to see time in left field, which will basically involve him standing out there and watching Luis Robert run down anything that isn’t directly on the LF foul line. Vaughn will also fill in at DH, so we will finally get to see how those plus hit tools hold up against legit MLB pitching. He’ll be watching opening day from the bench, however, as Leury Garcia will be manning LF for game 1 against Bundy. Vaughn most likely will get a crack and Andrew Heaney on Friday night, realistically a much better matchup for his first game as a pro.

Luis Robert still has questions to answer about what version of himself was the real one last year. Was it the July and August Luis with the wRC+ of 157? Or was it the September version of himself that slashed .136/.237/.309 with one home run and a 34% strikeout rate? The athletic ability and the hit tools are all there for Luis to be the better version of himself, he just has to get better at working pitchers over to make sure he gets something he can pound. Personally, I fully expect him to rebound back to what he was at the beginning of last season and be hitting in the top half of the batting order. I have no advanced stats to back up my assertation, but hopefully I can tell you all “I told you so” in September.

The road to the playoffs for the White Sox starts tonight in Anaheim. Most betting outlets set the Over/Under for the Sox win total around 91. Were that to be the case, it would most likely be enough for the Sox to win the AL central, squeaking it out by a game or two over the Twins. Personally I feel like the 87-89 win range is more likely, setting up a showdown with Minnesota and quite possibly Cleveland as well (who’s pitching is nothing to be sneezed at and pretty much owned the Sox last season). So much hinges on the Sox not only being able to stay healthy (because of the zero depth), but Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon being able to rebound from last September. There’s a lot that has to go right for this team, but if it does….look out. It’s been 6 long months with only the dark of winter to keep us company, but now the sun is shining out and the Sox take the field tonight. Hope shines eternal, LFG.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

Rick Hahn made it a point to call out Right Field as at or near the top of his shopping list for the 2019 off-season. It was well chronicled how historically awful the White Sox were in 2019 at the position, but if you’re unaware they were on pace for a worst-in-history 54 wRC+ before a couple big games in September saved them from immortality. So what was the solution as the team looks to turn the page on the down years of the rebuild and march toward the post-season? A post-hype, RHP mashing/LHP flailing Nomar Mazara. Hahn is eager to prove his club can unlock the untapped potential of the former mega-hype prospect from Texas…

2019 Stats

.268/.318/.469

6.0 BB% 23.0 K%

19 HR 66 RBI 69 R

.327 wOBA 94 wRC+ 0.5 WAR

-4 DRS

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Mazara turned in his fourth MLB season in much the same fashion as the three that preceded it – by underwhelming. Nothing if not consistent, Mazara posted another season of mediocre production while crushing RHP to the tune of 13 HR/110 wRC+ in 302 ABs and bowing to the whims of LHP with just 6 HR/55 wRC+ in 127 ABs. Mazara seemingly is what he is at the plate at this point, with 64 of 79 career HR coming off RHP and a career 53 wRC+ against LHP that screams for a platoon. Mazara actually went backward in some ways in 2019 as he turned in the worst K/BB ratio of his career with a career high 23% K rate and 6% BB rate.

Mazara is also mediocre (at best) in the field, turning in a -4 DRS and keeping with a theme of being somewhere between -3 and -6 DRS for his career in RF. Nomar was slowed a bit by left oblique strain that kept him to only 116 games played, the lowest of his four full seasons in the bigs. No real speed to his game, Mazara appears to be a curious choice to end the RF woes all on his own.

TOO SWEET! TOO SWEET! (WHOOP WHOOP): Mazara, still just 25 as of late April, finally taps into the unrealized potential that scouts and industry prospect hounds drooled over as he assaulted the minors en route to Texas in 2016. The former top-25 prospect finally figures out how to crush all pitchers the way he’s been able to against RHP (for sizable stretches), allowing him to set a career high in games played and homers as he goes over 150 and 30 for the first time.

“So, sometimes, you need to lean a little more heavily on your scouts, sometimes need a little more heavily on the analytic side. And there’s some projection, especially with younger players involved.” Hahn is rewarded for acquiring such a young player that just never could seem to put it all together and helping him to realize all that potential. Mazara even turns in a passable RF defensively, aided by Luis Robert covering a nice big chunk of Right Center on a regular basis.

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: Mazara is, in fact, a bit worse than what he appears to be. Every once and a while he drives a mistake deep into the Chicago Summer night, but all too often it is he that is the mistake. LHP remains the bane of his existence, exploiting the holes in his swing so harshly that Mazara finds himself in a platoon with Leury Garcia (or Nicky Delmonico??) by June. The K/BB ratio gets even worse as he devolves to a 25%+ K rate and becomes an expensive LH power pinch hitting option off the bench in August and September as the Sox find more a defensively capable replacement at the trade deadline in their quest to reach the first post-season berth in over a decade.

Mazara is then non-tendered in the Winter and drifts through the majors on short term deals with whichever team’s GM convinces himself that his staff can solve this human puzzle. After ‘flirting’ with the top of the market in Mookie Betts and George Springer, Hahn inks Marcell Ozuna to a four-year, $65M deal a year after he probably could’ve had him for 5/70 instead of spending prospect capital on the allure of what Mazara could’ve been.

BAH GAWD, THAT’S MAZARA’S MUSIC!: I tend to think Nomar Mazara is what he is after over 2,000 Major League at bats and he’ll become Hahn’s most regrettable move of the 2019 Winter. Regrettable might not be the right choice of word, considering the cost of Steele Walker(Texas Ranger) probably has a ceiling for essentially what Mazara is right now. This just feels too much like the type of move you make when you’re a year or so out from contention, trying to catch lightening in a bottle and get a few years of cheap-ish quality labor out of a corner OF spot. The problem is that while the Sox may be a year out from REALLY contending, they went ahead and filled basically every other hole they needed to with what amounts to major upgrades, leaving a little more to be desired from the absolute pit that has been Right Field.

This is not Mazara’s fault, and maybe he does have something left to show us. I think it’s foolish to think he’ll give anything more than a .260/.315/.450 line and a wRC+ around 90 overall, and it’d have been a good idea to have a platoon to hit LHP and realize his best usage. Maybe that’s the real plan, that this is the way Garcia gets at bats after he’s moved off 2B for Madrigal in May or so. Garcia did turn in a 110 wRC+ in 183 ABs against LHP in 2019…so a combined 110 wRC+ between the two would be nearly 40 points higher than 2019 amalgamation of shit that was White Sox Right Fielders.

We’d all happily take that, especially if it’s part of a playoff formula.

 

 

Baseball

There was a long and painful discussion about whether or not we would do a write up for Leury Legend in this preview series – mostly because the painful part was trying to figure out who would have to subject themselves to spending time writing specifically about freakin’ Leury Garcia. But, considering he was the starting CF last year and figures to be Nick Madrigal‘s caddy the starting 2B until Nick Madrigal is deemed ready for the bigs, it felt right to give the Legend his own post. So let’s do it.

2019 Stats

.279/.310/.378, 8 HR, 40 RBI

1.3 fWAR, 1.6 bWAR, 0.3 WARP

3.4 BB%, 22.5 K%

.294 wOBA, 83 wRC+ .688 OPS

-5 DRS, 1 Out Above Average

Last Week On Nitro: Leury’s 2019 season wasn’t a stat filler or game changer, but in this humble writer’s opinion, it was a bit more valuable than the stats designed to measure value make it out to be – not from a production standpoint, but because he provided a steady-enough presence as the everyday centerfielder and leadoff hitter for a team whose aspirations were not high anyway. Obviously a player with an 83 wRC+ is not the ideal everyday type, but to his credit Leury was asked to do more than he may be realistically capable of. The fact that he served as an above average CF (1 OAA is good enough for 62nd percentile in the stat, because there are far more bad fielders than good ones) despite being a natural SS shows just how versatile he is and how much he excelled in a less than ideal situation.

On top of that, while his 2019 OBP left something to be desired and I am certainly not one to espouse the virtues of batting average, a team designed to not be good could do a LOT worse for a leadoff hitter than a guy who hit .279 and got on base at a .310 clip. The production obviously was not there overall, as Leury will never threaten to be a power hitter, but that’s also not what was asked of him. I don’t want to be too bullish on what was truly an unimpressive season, but I do think it’d be hard to ask him for much more than what he gave.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP WHOOP): With Leury set to move from everyday CF to temporary 2B and then Swiss Army Knife bench piece in 2020, I think we’re already looking at the best case scenario for how he should be used. He can realistically play every position but catcher (and maybe 1B, as he’s tiny) for you in a pinch, and is likely to do a decent amount of spelling Eloy Jimenez and Nomar Mazara in the OF when they need off days, and might even fill in for Tim Anderson at short occasionally. Overall, the best case scenario for the Sox is that they don’t need Leury’s services in more than 60-70 games, and even that would be an inflated number from spending most of the first month or two waiting for Madrigal to come to take his job. I wouldn’t expect him to hit leadoff anymore, and actually think he will be inversed in the lineup card and hit 9th – that allows the Sox to limit his ABs but still use him as a decent table setter for the big bats when the lineup turns over. From a numbers standpoint, just give a similar enough copy of 2019 and I will be fine.

YOU FUCKED UP! YOU FUCKED UP!: Again, keeping the expectations low here, there really isn’t a worst possible outcome for Leury that comes from an utter lack of production or total falling off at the plate. He’s already unimpressive there, although I suppose if he has a Yolmer Sanchez 2019-esque season that could get bad quickly. Overall, though, you already don’t expect him to be an above average hitter, so even if he’s a bit closer to 70 wRC+ as a bench piece, it’s whatever.

What would represent the worst possible scenario for the Sox is if Leury is called into more than just a bench piece role due to injury at any position other than 2B. The reason I say other than 2B is that, as you may see tomorrow, I don’t have the hugest expectations of Nick Madrigal’s bat, and second is such a weak position all across baseball that Leury playing there frequently because Madrigal is hurt or needs more time in AAA wouldn’t hurt you all that much. But if Leury becomes an frequent flier in the outfield or at short because any of those players are hurt, the Sox are in for a bad ride, though it won’t exactly be Leury’s fault.

BAH GOD THAT’S GARCIA’S MUSIC: I may have done a bit too much of this in the TOO SWEET section, just because it’s hard to dream on a player like this. He’s 29 and has been in the bigs a few years already, so you know what you’re getting from him. In a starting CF role, that didn’t go far enough, but it was for a bad team so it was fine. As a starting 2B it will leave something to be desired but certainly not enough to cripple the Sox, and he will only be there until June at the absolute latest unless something goes wrong for Madrigal. And as a utility player on the bench and an occasional pinch runner, Leury’s skillset could arguably be a coveted one around baseball. Again, plus-defenders and plus-baserunners are rare on their own, and even rarer in one package.

Basically, if you feel strongly about Leury’s 2019 or 2020 presence in either direction, you may care too much about it. He’s just a guy, but that’s all the Sox need him to be.

Baseball

Every team needs a Swiss Army Knife, the kind of player you can throw in any position at any point in the game and can hopefully expect league average production. Leury Garcia has been that knife for the White Sox for the past few seasons, let’s see how this one went.

 

2019 Stats

.279/.310/.378

3.4 BB% 22.5 K%

8 HR 43 RBI 90 R 15 SB

.294 wOBA 83 wRC+

Defensive Runs Saved +1 UZR +1.6

 

Tell Me A Story: If consistency is one of the most valuable traits for a baseball player in the major leagues, then Leury García is a human ATM machine. For the past three seasons with the White Sox, García has hit above .270, stolen at least 10 bases, and played defense at multiple positions (2B,3B, SS, LF, CF, RF) with at least replacement-level production. He’s also been worth 2.6 WAR for the past three years combined, which for an everyday player (which he wasn’t supposed to be) is just OK but for a super utility man is way more than acceptable.

Coming into the 2019 season García was expected to play around 100 games, spelling Anderson, Moncada and Yolmer during the week and then playing occasional OF as needed. It was a solid plan, and would have worked out perfectly. Unfortunately, it turned out that Jon Jay’s skeletal system was made of balsa wood and paper mache, and the center field position had collapsed on itself like a dying star, where no offensive light or slugging percentage was able to escape its ineptitude. Before the season had even started, the plan had already been shot to shit.

Previously the most games García had played in a season was the 87 he logged in 2017. With all the crap mentioned above combined with the fact that Anderson and Moncada both still needed days off AND they ended up missing time with lower body issues meant a whopping 58 game increase for him. Predictably, this resulted in a drop off of his production the last month of the season. Even then he was still league average, which is a pretty solid baseline for your utility guy.

Offensively (as shown by his stats above) García is not an OBP machine. His 3.4% walk rate pretty much confirms that. So if he’s on base, he’s gonna have to hit his way on. That’s not the type of profile you’d want for your leadoff hitter, but low and behold that’s where Renteria had him for a good portion of the season. This isn’t a knock on Renteria (though his lineup construction was sometimes on the level of performance art), as he was just playing the hand he was dealt. The Sox didn’t have a true leadoff hitter on their team, and García was quick on the base paths so he sort of fell into the roll. Ideally, you’d have Leury hitting in the 9-hole, rolling the batting order around with speed to the #1 guy, providing multiple RBI opportunities to your #2 and #3 hole hitters. Perhaps this is what we will see next season, providing he’s not flipped at the winter meetings in a few months or priced out of the White Sox “budget.”

Contract: García is eligible for arbitration this year, and should expect a modest raise from the $1.55 million he made in 2019. I would think his camp would ask for $3 million and the Sox will settle for about $2.6. He’s a free agent in 2021.

Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: A lot will depend on how arbitration goes. If the number comes back in the upper $3 million range, the Sox may decide to cut bait and see what production they can get out of Danny Mendick or Ryan Goins spelling Tim and Yoan in the infield. With the team primed to fill some holes through free agency this winter, the need for García to play in the outfield should be much less, and I would expect Adam Engel to be there to fill in any needs as the team’s 4th outfielder.

The possibility for him to be at 2B full time exists if Nick Madrigal isn’t deemed ready for the big time and the Sox say goodbye to Yolmer Sanchez (which looks increasingly likely). In this instance, $3.5 million for a league average second baseman is a pretty good deal. Especially if you can move him back to the super utility role once Madrigal makes his debut later in the season.

Bottom line is as long as his price doesn’t get to exorbitant, or Rick Hahn somehow gets an offer he can’t refuse during the winter meetings I would expect Leury García to be back with the White Sox for the 2020 season.

Previous Player Reviews

James McCann

Welington Castillo

Zack Collins

Jose Abreu

Yolmer Sanchez

Tim Anderson

Yoan Moncada

Eloy Jimenez

 

 

Baseball

BOX SCORES:

Game One: White Sox 6 – Twins 4

Game Two: White Sox 3 – Twins 10

Game Three: White Sox 4 – Twins 3

 

 

Full disclosure:  The picture above is of my friend Chris, with whom I have a running bet.  The bet is every time the Hawks play the Wild, or the Sox play the Twins each game is worth one beer.  We keep a running tally (well he does, and I question his accounting methods) and with how terrible the Sox and Hawks have been it’s become quite costly.  So for the Sox to take 2 of 3 from a scorching hot Twins team, well, that’s better than gold.  That’s beer.  Anyways, the Sox did indeed take 2 of 3 from the Twins.  I said in the preview that I would consider winning one of three a victory, so I guess taking the series is…ultimate victory?  I dunno.  Either way, the team and the fans should be very pleased after today’s rain delayed game.  I assumed (almost correctly) that after Giolito was forced out of the game due to the lengthy rain delay that the bullpen would implode and the Sox would lose the rubber match.  Evan Marshall tried with a little help from Leury Garcia (who had a bad case of the yips today), but Bummer and Colome were able to seal the deal.  To the bullets!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

 

-Thankfully Moncada only missed one game after being drilled on his knee by Chris Sale last series, so that bullet got dodged as it were.  Looks like Tim Anderson is gonna be out 4 to 6 weeks thanks to a shitty Fenway infield and a high ankle sprain.  Losing him not only hurts the fun quotient of the team, but forces Leury Garcia into SS duty, which is quite the ask for someone who clearly has either a bum hamstring or a quad.  Both his errors today were due to his footwork and being out of position.  Hopefully the All Star break gives him the recuperative time he needs, as the Sox are going to need him down the stretch to keep the infield from becoming a clown parade

-Despite dropping off Yonder Alonso at the drive-thru at Goodwill, Zack Collins isn’t getting consistent playing time.  I don’t know what the idea was by bringing him up, but I can’t believe it was to watch Palka pulverize the infield dirt with ground ball after ground ball.  If you’re gonna have him up here, fucking PLAY HIM.  It can’t get any simpler than that.

-In other prospect news, it’s time to REJOICE, because Cease has risen from AAA to take the start against the Tigers Wednesday!  Good seats still available!  Seriously though, I am very excited to see what he can do against a semi-major league roster this week.  I fully expect him to get sent back down after the start for the All Star break, which is fine.  I just wanna watch that curveball make Nick Castellanos poop himself a little.

-Hoss Detwiler is better than Jose Berrios.  Just kidding.  It was nice to see the Sox be able to get to Berrios for a change, as in the past he’s had little trouble mowing them down one after the other.  Detwiler himself was…fine.  He was actually better than Nova the following day (not a super high bar to clear, but here we are), and I’d say he’s earned himself another turn in the rotation.  Just don’t forget Despaigne pitched well in his first start too.

– 2/3rds of Eloy’s hits this series went yard, which is exciting.  What is NOT exciting is that he got 3 hits, and is still parked below a .250 average.  I’m not being impatient, mind you, I just want him to bat .310 and hit another 25 dingers by year’s end.  No big deal.

-Now that Yonder Alonso is gone, I need someone else to shit on in each recap.  As nobody has been as terrible as him, I’m going with Ricky Renteria.  His lineups still suck, and his management of the bullpen (albeit slowly improving from the start of the year) is still terrible.  I hate being that “fire the coach” guy, but the evidence in support is starting to rack up, especially with how he’s handling injured players.

-Jon Jay has been a pleasant surprise so far, I’m just not expecting it to last.  The OF situation is still a dumpster fire, though Eloy had a nice sliding catch Saturday, and he even managed to not get hurt doing it.  Ryan Cordell is boring and bad.

-Next up is the Tigers of Detroilet, with the Sox now 3 games back of .500.  Sure would be nice to head into the All Star break with a winning record.  If that’s gonna be a thing, then 3 of 4 against the Tigers is the bare minimum, because you know the damn Cubs aren’t going to cough up 2 games to them.  Onward!

Baseball

Game 1: White Sox 5 – Yankees 4

Game 2: White Sox 10 – Yankees 2

Game 3: White Sox 4 – Yankees 8

Game 4: White Sox 3 – Yankees 10

 

 

This series against the Yankees this Father’s Day weekend was the entire season in a microcosm.  You had the dizzying highs of watching Giolito twirl another gem, Eloy bombing 2 HR in a game, or Leury Garcia win an 11 pitch battle against Adam Ottavino to send the game winning home run over the right field fence.  Then you had the terrifying lows of the back 3/5ths of the worst starting rotation in the major leagues being unable to find the strike zone, to Ricky Renteria’s mystifying lineup decisions to getting a taste of .500 and having it snatched right back from you.  There have been plenty of times in the past I’ve been frustrated with the White Sox front office, but their insistence on filling the rotation with trash heap rejects might be the worst it’s ever been.

To the bullets

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

 

– Watching Leury Garcia and Tim Anderson take game one by the nuts and drag it over to the White Sox side of the win column was a thing of beauty.  Timmy went down and popped a pitch that he had no business getting to and put it over the center field fence to tie the game when Nova tried his best to gift wrap it to NY.  Then watching Leury go down 0-2 to Adam Ottavino (who is no joke in the reliever department) and fight off 8 more pitches before he finally got one he could do something with was just awesome to behold.  I see Leury as a Ben Zobrist type of player where he will be in the field every game, just not in the same position.  Fangraphs has him at a 2.6 defensive WAR which is highest on the whole damn team by more  than a full point (McCann is next at 1.2).  For that price, he’s well worth the roster spot.

– Eloy is blazing hot right now, as he now sits with 11 home runs.  That doesn’t seem like much, but when you consider the fact that he’s hit 8 of those 11 since May 20th that picture becomes a little clearer.  On top of that, he’s seeing the ball better in the box and laying off more and more breaking pitches out of the zone.  His K rate is still kinda high, but if he’s averaging one tater every three games I’ll take it.  Plus the kid is hilariously awkward on TV:

– Lucas Giolito wasn’t at his sharpest in this game, but he certainly did enough to keep the Yankee bats at bay until the Sox could respond to the Luke Voit solo shot he gave up in the first.  He walked 4 on the night, which is the most he’s had since the last time he faced the Yankees back in April.  The fact that you’d pitch a little more carefully to this team speaks more to the heavy bats of the Yankees (Now even heavier with the acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion from the Mariners) than to a lack of control from Gio.

-Kelvin Herrera came in game one and struck out the side in the 8th to set the table for Aaron Bummer’s first save of the year. Apparently Colome was not available after throwing almost 40 pitches in his 5 out save the previous game.  Bummer looked competent in the role, which may be where he ends up if Hahn decides to move Colome for another Tommy John surgery in the making at the trade deadline.

-Reynaldo Lopez really only had one bad inning in his start, but it was enough to do him in.  He’s still not attacking the zone enough, but his underlying talent and promise continue to merit him a start every 5 days.  It’s not like there’s anyone else to take the job from him anyways.

-Yonder Alonso has played 5 games in the month of June and gone 1-15 in that span.  Jon Jay is dead in a ditch somewhere, and Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are not here.  What a bang up free agency season for Rick Hahn (OK fine James McCann has been awesome, but there is not a single person out there who thought he was going to be anything other than 1 game a week).

– O-Driss went from being a very small, novelty pumpkin to a gigantic first prize in a county fair one with his start on Sunday.  Happy Fathers Day to all those Sox Dads out there who had to watch that steaming pile of shit that he shoveled out there.  I know the Yankees fans appreciated it.

– Next up are the 2 games up in Wrigley against the Cubs.  Who’s pumped to try and take back the Crosstown Cup Sponsored By BP Oil and Probably Papa John’s Pizza or Maybe Ankin’s Law Office With Ozzie Guillen?

-Sisyphus White Sox meme idea courtesy of @TheBennettK

 

 

Baseball

Well, my streak had to come to an end sometime.  Just a pity it had to come to an end against a very beatable Tigers team, as coming into the series Detroit had scored like 12 runs over the last month.  It seemed to be the perfect antidote for a few guys (Nova, Lopez) to go deep into a game and give a burned-out bullpen a much needed rest.  Alas, Nova was the only one who made it into the 7th inning, and managed a meager one out, leaving the bases juiced.  This has been a pretty serious issue for the Sox starting rotation, as thus far this season only one Sox pitcher has made it through 7 innings, and that was Ivan Nova way back on the 1st of April.  Suffice it to say, if this continues most of the bullpen are going to ash away like half the Marvel universe after Thanos snapped his fingers.

 

To The Bullets:

 

– The Sox had plenty of offense for the series, putting up 17 runs in three games and hammering out a bunch of hits.  Unfortunately, some of the timeliest hits were wasted, as Beef Wellington’s game tying dinger on Thursday was promptly scorched away by Arson Fulmer as he came into the game and proceeded to plunk like six guys in a row.

– Tim Anderson served his suspension on Friday, with Leury Garcia filling in admirably in his forced (bullshit) absence.  Garcia has been very good so far this season being deployed pretty much everywhere but catcher.  Players like him are invaluable on a shorthanded team like the Sox, and whenever they decide they would like to have league average production from their 2nd baseman he pretty much makes Yolmer expendable unless he starts hitting.

– Carlos Rodon had basically the same outing Friday as he did against the Yankees in his previous start. Six innings, seven Ks and a couple of hits and walks.  Honestly the only complaint I’ve had with him so far is his tendency to nibble in the early innings, which runs up his pitch count.  Once he starts going into the 7th and 8th inning, the Sox might have a legitimate Ace on their hands.

-Eloy blasted another two-run shot, and Yoan uncorked an absolute missile to dead center field in a cavernous Detroit outfield.  I heard Benetti mention that it was the longest measured home run in Comerica by a visiting player, being only outstripped by JD Martinez when he wore Tigers colors.  Eloy continues to look lost at times on hard breaking pitches coming from righties.  He’s still well above the Mendoza line, and someone with his hit tools is going to figure it out sooner rather than later.

-Ivan Nova had himself a solid start going until he went through the Tigers order for the 3rd time, then his breaking stuff seemed to abandon him.  I’m not super into the whole “opener” concept the Rays have invented, but seeing the success that Yonny Chirinos is having with it makes me think that might be a possibility to have Dylan Covey try that out in front of Nova and Lopez.

-The Sox record now stands at 8-12, with a trip to Baltimore starting tomorrow.  Once again, a team the Sox should be able to at least take two of three from but with Giolito hitting the IL and the Pen pretty burned out, we shall see.

 

Upwards!