Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Angels 3 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Angels 3 – White Sox 2

Game 3: Angels 9 – White Sox 3

 

 

Not great.

For what seems like the millionth time this season, the Sox came out swinging in the first game in the series and pummeled their opponent then decided that was enough and put the bats away for the next two. What makes it even worse is the fact that Dallas Keuchel actually had his first quality start since what seems like the beginning of the pandemic and the Sox wasted it away because they couldn’t figure out a pitcher named Junk. Seriously.

The lineups that LaRussa has been throwing out there each series are understandable when you have half of your starters who at some point or another have been on the IL this year for an extended period, but at some point they’re gonna have to be out there every day to build some rhythm heading into the postseaon. There are some issues here that don’t bode well for an extended playoff run, and if they don’t get addressed they may very well be playing golf far sooner than they should be.

Also Joe Maddon is a fucking putz, get the fuck outta here with your “wahhh wahhh they hit Shohei” after the Sox were plunked like 12 times in the series. Mike Wright can’t find the current zip code that he’s in, much less a strike zone. Get fucked.

 

 

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

GAME 1

-Ladies and gentlemen, The Gavin Sheets Game. 3 for 4 with a dinger, a double and 4 RBI on the night, Sheets was impervious to everything the Angels pitching staff threw at him. Where Sheets lands in the field going forward is open to interpretation, but he’s earned his place on the roster going forward.

-Lucas Giolito wasn’t exactly dominant in his first return from the IL, giving up two HR and walking two in 4 innings, but he did strike out 8 so that’s pretty excellent. The final line could’ve been a little worse, but Eloy of all people robbed David Fletcher (of all people) of a dinger in the 3rd inning. Eloy was OK after ponging off the LF wall, but sweet Jesus I wish he’d stop doing that.

-Luis Robert fucking murderized a ball in the bottom of the 2nd, and he’s now slashing .376/.409/1.033 in the last 30 games. As of right now he’s not being spoken of in the same category as other game changers like Mike Trout and Ronald Acuña Jr, but it’s only a matter of time.

-Jose Abreu didn’t have any hits on the night but he took 3 walks, which I think is even better. Abreu working counts to get into a position where pitchers have to throw him fastballs is only going to result in him adding to his RBI total.

-Mike Wright Jr pitched an inning and walked 3 people. He got out of the inning unscathed somehow, but I don’t know why they keep running him out there. No mas.

-Sox pitchers kept Shohei Ohtani off the board and actually K’ed him 3 times on the night. He’s struggled since the all star break, but the potential for damage there is always lurking.

GAME 2

-Dallas Keuchel made it through 6 innings! Granted he walked 5 dudes, but let’s just take the 6 innings and 2 earned runs at face value and hope it’s a performance that he can build off of.

-Anytime Caesar Hernandez wants to justify his continued playing time on this team that would be fine with me.

-Yoan Moncada smoked a homer off of some junk from Junk. That’s the tweet.

-Michael Kopech deserved a better fate today, but that’s what happens when you strand a jillion people on base.

-Steve Cishek striking out the side in the 8th shows you the current state of the White Sox offense.

 

GAME 3

 

Time is running out for this team to start looking like they’re going to be dangerous in the playoffs. When the Sox are on their game, there’s not a team in the AL who can run with them, but it’s been awhile since we’ve seen that type of urgency. If they wait until October to try and turn it on, it’s far too late. The next two series against the Rangers and Tigers should be at LEAST 4 wins out of 6 bare minimum. That’s the bar. Get it done.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

White Sox 3 – Angels 4

White Sox 12 – Angels 8

White Sox 3 – Angels 5

White Sox 4 – Angels 7

 

Well that was not the start we all envisioned, was it?

For a team that touts bullpen strength as one of it’s weapons, the White Sox didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory in that department. The Sox very easily could have (and probably should have) walked out of Anaheim with 3 wins, but instead now have 3 losses to start the season. Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall are the two prime suspects here, both blowing leads in the 8th inning in games 1 and 3 respectively. They were aided and abetted by some atrocious defense by the Sox and an inability to capitalize on runners in scoring position. To add insult to (more) injury, Tim Anderson came up lame in the 1st inning, attempting to run out a ground ball in his first at bat Sunday night. He shouldn’t miss too much time, but for a team that’s depth is already paper thin this is asking quite a lot.

TO THE BULLETS:

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-As mentioned above, Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall had a rough weekend. It was pretty clear from the jump that neither guy had their premium stuff. While Bummer was the victim of a boneheaded throw by Nick Madrigal in the 8th inning in game 1, he still had a chance to get out of the jam and ended up walking Justin Upton to set up the dagger by Pujols. Marshall didn’t fare any better in game 3, He managed to strike out Mike Trout, but then gave up a single to Rendon and a triple to Jared Walsh, then hung a cookie to Justin Upton who deposited it into the left field seats. *Fart Noise*

-All was not terrible with the bullpen, however. Both Michael Kopech and Garret Crochet were fucking nails in their appearances. They each went 2 innings in their respective games, striking out 3 per and keeping the Angels off the board when Keuchel and Lynn couldn’t make it out of the 5th inning. Kopech and Crochet are awesome weapons to have out of the pen, but if Cease and Rodon can’t cut it they may be needed in the rotation before too long.

-Speaking of Dallas Keuchel, I realize that he didn’t have a full spring training to get into game shape, but him constantly missing upstairs with his stuff is concerning to say the least. It begs the question as to whether his numbers last year were the true him or just the benefit of feasting on shitty central division lineups. It certainly bears watching.

-The defense has been absolutely atrocious to start the season. Through the first 4 games the Sox have allowed 7 unearned runs out of the 24 that were scored against them, the ones in the outfield being the most egregious. In game two, Matt Foster came in to get Keuchel out of the jam he created. He got Ohtani and Trout to both strike out, and managed to get Rendon to hit a catchable fly ball out to right. Eaton came running over and just flat out missed the ball. Game 3 featured Luis Robert running in to call off Tim Anderson on a high pop behind 2nd. The fly ball glanced off his mitt, then off his forehead, allowing two runs to score. Eaton then proceeded to use his pool noodle arm to throw the ball off the pitchers mound. All around Benny Hill-level shit.

-For the most part, LaRussa’s first series back in a Sox uniform went pretty well until the 9th inning of game 4. With everything tied up after the Sox clawed their way back to knot the game up at 4, instead of turning to a rested Liam Hendriks in a high leverage situation he opted for Jose Ruiz who allowed the winning run to get on base. He then turned to Matt Foster who served up a 3 run bomb to Jared Walsh. Foster was great in game 2, but situations like this is why the Sox supposedly went out and paid the money they did for Hendriks.

-Dylan Cease picked up where he left off last season, throwing waaaaay too many pitches, very few of which were in the strike zone. He worked out of a few jams, but what the Sox really needed from him was innings. Throwing 52 pitches through the first two isn’t going to give the bullpen any relief, especially since Lynn and Keuchel couldn’t make it out of the 5th inning. I really wanted to believe that him and Ethan Katz had fixed his control issues, but the results thus far are not encouraging.

-Congrats to Yermin Mercedes for living his dream and making history by going 8-8 to start his major league career and being the first of what is hopefully many feel good stories of this MLB season. Love to see the happiness on that guy’s face.

– 1 and 3 is not how any of us pictured the Sox to start the season, and I totally get the frustration but big picture: even with everything that went wrong in this series the Sox still had chances to win every game. They weren’t getting their doors blown off, and the issues (with the exception of Tim Anderson’s hammy) are all correctable. Which leads us to:

 

Series Preview: White Sox at Mariners – Yarrr, I Don’t Know What I’m Doin

 

VS

 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Carlos Rodon (0-2, 8.22 ERA) vs. Justus Sheffield (4-3, 3.58 ERA)

Game 2: Lucas Giolito (0-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. James Paxton (1-1, 6.64 ERA)

Game 3: Dallas Keuchel (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. Justin Dunn (4-1, 4.34 ERA)

 

After the shenanigans in Anaheim concluded, the Sox travel up the coast to the birthplace of Grunge and Starbucks to take on the Mariners. The M’s, fresh off a series win against the Giants, are smack in the middle of what may turn out to be a sped up rebuilding phase. Having completely turned over their roster over the past 3 years, sending everything that wasn’t nailed down to either the Mets or the Yankees, the Mariners are chock full of young talent that can only be described as “fun.”

Taking the bump in game one for the M’s is the son of Gary Sheffield, and once prized prospect of the Yankees, Justus Sheffield. The Mariners acquired Sheff from New York in a deal (much like the Sox with the Nationals and Lucas Giolito) where they sent James Paxton out East in return for him and a few other prospects that haven’t made it to the major league level yet. Sheffield toiled in the M’s system for a season before making the rotation in 2020 after a brief callup in September of 2019. He quickly made his impact, going 4-3 with a 3.5 ERA, and was 4th among all qualified rookie starters with 1.6 WAR in the shortened season.

Game two features Gio’s second start, and Paxton’s first as he was skipped in the rotation to give him extra rest. The Yankees didn’t really get the value out of Paxton that they were hoping to when they made that trade in 2018. He had a solid 2019, going 15-6 with a 3.86 ERA for the Yanks, but cratered in 2020 only starting 5 games and ending with a 6.68 ERA before he went under the knife for a flexor injury in his elbow. The M’s brought him back this season on a one year “prove it” deal for $8.5 million that could be worth up to $10 if he hits certain bonuses.

Justin Dunn, the former 1st round pick of the Mets in 2018 was acquired in the deal that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to NYC. Dunn, a former closer in college, was converted to a starter by the Mariners in 2019. He’s got a decend 4 seam fastball, and two quality breaking pitches in his curve and slider. For a kid who had only been a starter for less than a year, he performed pretty admirably in 2020. He doesn’t strike many people out, with a 7.4 K/9 average to go with a high 6.1 BB/9, so he can be gotten to if the Sox offense can wait him out.

Offensively for the M’s, last year’s ROY Kyle Lewis is still out with a knee injury, so that’s a bonus. The rest of the squad outside of the returning Mitch Haniger is still fairly unproven, though there is a lot of upside there. Dylan Moore is a Leury Garcia-type who plays all the diamond but hits for more power. Evan White is the M’s version of Andrew Vaughn, a 1B/DH type with very good power but not the eye of AV. Kyle Seager is still here, toiling away in the shadow of his more talented sibling down in LA.

Realistically if the Sox starters can keep the ball in the park and not walk anyone they should have a good chance at winning at least 2 of 3. I’m very curious about the return of Hard Carl tonight against Paxton. Hoping he has better results in his first start than his fellow Ethan Katz protégée Dylan Cease did last night.

The starters need to eat some innings this series after the bullpen threw a combined 14.2 in 4 games. They desperately need a break, and with no off day until Friday, it’s up to Gio and Keuchel to give them one. Offensively, going up against two lefties this series should theoretically work in the Sox favor. Moncada and Grandal need to pick up some of the slack that losing Tim and Eloy caused. Now would be a good time for Andrew Vaughn to break out as well.

Let’s Go Sox.

 

 

*Credit for the glorious Ghost Eloy pic goes to @RightSox. Follow him for more hilarity.

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