Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Cleveland 3 – White Sox 4

Game 2: Cleveland 2 – White Sox 0

Game 3: Cleveland 0 – White Sox 8

Game 4: Cleveland 4 – White Sox 2

 

While part of me REALLLLLY wants to get fired up and bitch about the fact that the Sox had YET ANOTHER chance to put away a team in the rubber match of a series and failed to do it, I’ve decided to take a calmer, more positive approach to this recap. Talk more about what went right than what went wrong. Then if I don’t feel better I’ll throw my laptop off the roof and drop an elbow on it’s remains.

Because in reality, there was a lot to like about the Sox performance this series. The pitching was absolutely fucking nails. Yermin hit another ball that broke orbit and knocked on of Elon’s satellites out of the sky. Moncada seems to be coming out of his slump, and Tim Anderson came back from the DL and promptly smoked 2 hits. Even Adam Eaton was less offensive to me during this series! All good things! We should talk about them, that way you don’t have to think about the Blackhawks getting fucking skulled by the Dead Wings last night.

ANNOUNCER: Aaaand here comes the laptop throw!

 

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-How cool is it that Carlos Rodon, after having what can only be described as consecutive miserable seasons, came out there and was a shoelace away from a perfect game? It’s not often anyone has to “settle” for a no hitter, but that was definitely the case here. Side note: while I really wanna get mad at Roberto Perez (not just because he looks like a bargain basement Yadi Molina) for not getting out of the way of the backfoot slider, there really wasn’t much chance of him doing that. Throughout the start Rodon was in control of the zone, changing speeds and moving up and down. Much like peak Justin Verlander, his velocity started around 92 and peaked at 98.9 MPH on the 108th pitch of his start. You can’t teach stuff like that, it has to be engrained in you. Through 2 starts, Rodon is 2-0 with 16 strikeouts and a 0.36 WHIP. If this is what a finally healthy Rodon looks like, then I’d like to rescind all the nasty comments I made about his signing back in January. Hard Carl indeed.

-The rest of the Sox pitching was no slouch either. Dallas Keuchel came in on short notice Monday night after Hard Carl’s #2s turned out to not be so hard. He went a solid 5 innings, using only 65 pitches until he hit the invisible force field that prevents him from reaching the 7th inning. The fact that this was on shorter rest than normal leads me to give him a pass on this one, and the bullpen was totally up to the task anyways. Evan Marshall came in with the bags loaded and no outs and managed to hold Cleveland to a single run. Then it was Codi Heuer’s turn to dominate, as he went 2.1 innings only giving up a single hit and striking out 4. He ended up with the win after the Sox managed some Benny Hill shit in the bottom of the 9th.

-The Aces matchup between Lucas Giolito and Shane Bieber did not disappoint. Between the two of them there were 16 innings of shutout ball and 19 strikeouts. Neither team was able to pick up the off-speed stuff, and Bieber’s curveball was the nastiest I’ve ever seen it. LaRussa certainly didn’t help the situation with his lineup, but that’s a discussion for another time. Cleveland was able to pick up the win in the Bozo Buckets Extra Inning Extravaganza after Garret Crochet was unable to field his position on an Eddie Rosario chopper. Regardless, it was an awesome display of pitching from the starters, and one that we hopefully get again this season.

-Lance Lynn pitched great again, and just made one mistake on the afternoon. Unfortunately for the Sox, that mistake was to Jose Ramierz and he absolutely did not miss. Lesson learned.

-Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you….The Yerminator:

-While I’d love to get pissed off at Andres Gimenez for helping Adam Eaton off the bag at 2nd base yesterday, watching the play a lot of it was caused by the force of Eaton sliding into the bag. Did Gimenez “help” Eaton by giving his momentum a little nudge? Probably. Was it worth Eaton pushing him and causing the benches to clear? Probably not. I understand both sides, but ultimately I feel like it was the right call by Bill Miller.

-You can see Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada seeing the ball better from the box each game that passes. They’re both about to go on a tear, and god help whoever is on the mound when they do.

-I was under the impression that Dylan Cease had the Rona and would be out this weekend but now according to NBC Chicago he’s been cleared from the COVID-19 protocols and will be available to pitch tonight. Yay, I guess?

-Next up is (maybe) a 4 game series against the Red Sox out in Bahhston. I say maybe because the forecast for the weekend is not very friendly, with a possibility of snow (!) tonight. The Red Sox bats have come alive in the past week, scoring 30 runs in that seven days. TLR has yet to say how he’s going to set his pitching lineup after Rodon got moved around, but if the game gets played I suppose we will see Cease vs Nick Pivetta tonight. Let’s go (white) Sox.

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: Indians 92-64   White Sox 68-87

GAMETIMES: Tuesday-Thursday 7:10

TV: WGN Tuesday, NBCSN Wednesday/Thursday

THEY’RE STILL SHITTY: Let’s Go Tribe

PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts & Pitching Staffs

Indians Spotlight: Could Frankie Lindor go?

The White Sox begin the last homestand of the season, and half of it will be against a team that still has a lot on the table. So while it’s not games that matter for them, they can play a “spoiler” role, if that indeed matters to players. This seems like a bunch it might to. Sadly, their rotation is on the spoiled side already.

With Lucas Giolito being shut down for the year, the Sox will have a bullpen game or two in here, sending out Hector Santiago and Ross Detweiler and then diving behind the couch. Dylan Cease will get a chance on Thursday to make it look like an actual baseball game. Meanwhile, the Indians have their two big guns of Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber lined up for this, with Clevinger available for Sunday and Bieber ready to go for any wildcard game.

As that’s what’s on offer for Cleveland. They sit a half-game behind the Rays for the right to go to Oakland next Wednesday, and they have the extra game to play, which comes Thursday. They’ll finish in DC, which could be an issue as the Nationals are playing for the same thing in the other league. But they might have it wrapped up by then, and the Indians could get three games against an opponent twiddling its thumbs and keeping powder dry for the coin-flip.

Right now the schedule is in Cleveland’s favor, as the Rays have two home dates with the Yankees, and the Yanks still chasing the AL’s best record to not have to deal with the noise in Houston a fourth time (which got them just two years ago). But that could flip at the weekend with the Rays getting the long-dead Jays and as mentioned the Tribe heading to the capital.

It’s kind of a miracle the Indians are still here. They lost Jose Ramirez a month ago, though he’s starting to make noise like he could come up for air in the season’s last week even though it was thought a broken hand would end his season. The same malady definitely has ended Jason Kipnis‘s season, who was having something of a revival season but now is on the shelf. They’ve parsed out the responsibility, but the big hand should probably go to Franmil Reyes over the past month. After his trade to The Land he was simply lost, but over the past 30 days has lit up with a 130 wRC+.  The rest of the lineup has been average or better, so it’s mostly been a death by 1000 cuts sort of thing.

Civale and Adam Plutko have saved them in the rotation with Kluber nowhere and Carrasco only just coming back in the pen. But he got whatever the rest of the pen has got the past month, as it’s been gasoline out there in September.

You certainly wouldn’t fancy seeing the Indians in a five-game series, except if they have to blow Bieber and possibly more in the coin-flip and only have Clevinger for more than one start. And considering how gettable the pen has been, they might be the same rollover belly-tickle they’ve been in the first round since their WS appearance in ’16.

Still, for the Pale Hose it’s at least better to play a game with stakes in the last week than when the Tigers show up for the two of them to perform some elaborate funeral interpretive dance. Cleveland is still a team the Sox will have to get by next year, and throwing some bombs at them in their chase this one at least sets a precedent. This used to be a rivalry. It can be again.

Baseball

Mike Clevinger isn’t what you see when you think of the top starters in baseball. They’re usually of the Johnny Unitas type, a haircut you can set your watch to. But here is Clevinger, looking like he fell off the Allman Brothers bus, and since he returned from injury in late June, there hasn’t been a better pitcher.

The numbers pop right out at you. Since July 1st, Clevinger has the best WAR of any pitcher, the fourth best ERA, the best FIP, sixth-best K/9, and they third-best ERA-. He’s a huge reason, along with Shane Bieber, that the Tribe have been able to surge to the top of the wildcard standings and still keep some hot breath on the neck of the Twins atop the Central. And they’ll need all their pitchers to be on top of their game with the resurgence of Jose Ramirez now over thanks to a broken hand.

How did Clevinger get here? A couple of different answers. One, he has one of the best sliders in the game. According to FanGraphs, his slider ranks behind only Max Scherzer’s and Patrick Corbin’s as far as value. That’s always a nice place to be. Clevinger’s slider doesn’t have a huge amount of tilt but it does have a hue amount of sweep, moving nearly 10 inches across the zone and out of it. Which is a big reason that hitters from the right side whiff at over half the ones at which they swing.

Another reason is that hitters can’t do much with his fastball, either. He throws pretty hard, averaging 96 MPH on it, which is top-1o in the game. Clevinger gets a fair amount of run on his four-seam, which moves it on the hands of righties and away from lefties. And it’s the fastball that’s been the big difference from last year, gaining nearly two MPH of average velocity and going from a good pitch to a great one. Clevinger credited better mechanics coming into this season, getting away from using only his arm to produce it.

But it’s in the past two years that the slider became the main weapon, especially this year when he was able to really increase the tilt it got and the sweep.  Raising his arm slot appears to have been a key, as you can see here:

So with the greater velocity, and the already-damaging slider, hitters don’t have much of cushion to diagnose either, and you get what you have so far this season.

Clevinger’s return to health and entrance into dominance, as well as Shane Bieber’s, made Cleveland comfortable dealing All-World Tool Trevor Bauer across the state, and probably will make it easier for them to lose Cory Kluber in the winter (they almost did this past one). Carlos Carrasco returning is also a boon to that. Kluber has two years of club options at a pretty reasonable rate left, so his value probably won’t be much higher than this for the always cost-conscious Indians.

But both Clevinger and Bieber are going to be around a while, and the base for the next great Tribe team (if that has Lindor, of course). As for this year, they’ve got six game left with the Twins that will probably decide the Central. And they have the one thing, thanks to Clevinger in part, that the Twins don’t. And that’s dominating starting pitching.