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.

RECORDS: 65-76   White Sox 62-78

GAMETIMES: Friday 7:10, Saturday 6:10, Sunday 1:10

TV: NBCSN Friday/Saturday, WGN Sunday

WALLY’S WORLD: Halos Heaven

PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts & Pitching Staffs

Angels Spotlight: Shohei Ohtani

It could feel like the Angels and White Sox are in the same place, given they have pretty much the same record and are both going to finish this year up the track. They have teams to catch that feel like they’re going to be around a while (though the Twins are a lot more unstable than the Astros), and it’s been far too long since either team was exactly relevant.

But as this week in Cleveland proved, the Sox have an upward trajectory you can at least see if they’re not fully fastened on yet. Whereas the Angels have been here forever, perennially stuck in not going forward or backward but most certainly not going anywhere. And the Sox don’t have the guilt of wasting the career of perhaps the greatest player to do it as the Angels do.

So, in a complete disservice to Mike Trout, these two teams will run out three more games on the schedule against each other this weekend on the Southside. The Sox hope for more than this soon. Trout hopes for more than this just anytime, given how long he has committed to Orange County now.

And that’s the thing with the Angels,. They don’t have a plethora or even a helping of young players that portend to anything more than this. They do have some expensive vets draining money and at-bats, and firmly ground the team in mud. One of this upcoming offseason’s big dramas will be the Angels trying to lure Gerrit Cole home, if they will and how hard. He certainly could help a lot, and with the better health of Shohei Ohtani that would give the Angels rotation a serious boost.

But that’s not enough on its own to catch the Astros, or even a wildcard spot considering how far ahead the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, A’s, and Indians are now. Perhaps the latter will fall, but their slack might be picked up by the White Sox themselves. And you don’t build a team hoping for just a wildcard spot.

The lineup needs so much help. Only Brandon Marsh from within the system might help next year, and the Angels have a lot more holes. Catcher, 1st, 2nd, possibly third (David Fletcher might make that his own) and one of the corner outfield spots if not both. The Angels can’t spend their way to improving the lineup enough, or at least won’t. And they’ve tried that in the past, and it got them here.

Worse yet, there aren’t a lot of pieces they can flog to restock. Trout would have been one, but would have signaled a complete start-over which they didn’t want to do. There’s no pitcher they have to move, and really no position player either. They basically have to ace every draft and wait. That’s essentially what they’re doing now.

Anyway, they roll into Chicago after getting dumped on for three games by the A’s in Oakland, capping it off by blowing a 6-1 lead in the last two innings yesterday afternoon. It’s not a pleasant bunch at the moment.

The Sox will send out Giolito to carry out the momentum of yesterday’s wind, and Dylan Covey will save everyone the horror of watching Ross Detweiler start tomorrow night. They will hope the signs of life from Eloy and Collins are carried out a little more, before everyone gets to feast on a lot of Tigers and Royals before the season closes out.

Baseball

When Shohei Ohtani returns to the mound next year, as it seems likely he will, it probably won’t have the fanfare of his arrival. Ohtani came to these shores hitting dingers and throwing serious smoke from the mound, and somehow in the back of your mind but steering your acknowledgement anywhere else you knew that something like this couldn’t last. It’s simply too much at one time, and of course it wasn’t too long before his elbow went twang.

Ohtani has been rehabbing his elbow after offseason Tommy John surgery throughout the campaign, even while DH-ing since the middle of May when he came off the injured list. The plan is for him to have a normal offseason and to pick up in spring training as a starter and DH again. Of course, the question is will this be enough for the Angels.

Even with his plus-fastball, Ohtani was something of a mid-rotation starter. He had a 3.57 FIP which gets toward #2 range, but will he be able to maintain that if he can no longer use his split-finger? That’s a pitch that’s been linked to serious elbow stress, and he might have to drop it to keep his ligaments intact long term. Maybe not, but those aren’t questions we’ll get answered until next season.

You can’t go very far without hearing whispers that Gerrit Cole is desperate to head home to California in the offseason as a free agent, and the Angels are no less anxious to bring him home. Anaheim (never calling them LA) haven’t had a frontline starter since God knows when. Put it this way, Jared Weaver is their 4th-leading pitcher in career WAR. It’s not exactly a hallowed history.

Adding Cole and a returning Ohtani would certainly boost the Angels, but would it ever be enough to catch the Astros? The past three seasons, the Angels have been 21, 23, and currently 26 games behind the benchmark in the whole AL, much less the AL West. Are there any combinations of moves a team can make to make up 20 games in one offseason? Probably not.

Which means a multi-season project you’d have to think. Which Ohtani can be a part of, but he does require a team to be built a little differently. The Angels went to a six-man rotation last season to accommodate what he was used to in Japan, as well as maximize the amount of days he can DH. He doesn’t on the day before, or on, or after he pitches, so essentially he can DH about half your games. Perhaps they can play with the day before or after, but even in a best case scenario he’s only hitting two-thirds of your games. Which means another player has to rotate into the spot, and possibly another into the field, and every team would like that depth and flexibility but it doesn’t just grow on trees.

As a hitter only, Ohtani has been pretty weird this season. He’s been absolutely crushing the ball in terms of the contact he makes, with basically a 50% hard-contact rate and an average exit velocity of 92.5 MPH. Both marks are top-1o in the league. And yet Ohtani has seen a 72-point drop in his slugging from last season to this. And that can mostly be attributed to half of his contact being on the ground. You can get a lot of hits that way, Ichiro had a few, but it’s hard to pile up a lot of bases that way. His 6.1-degree launch-angle is one of the lowest in the league.

Pitchers have used their fastball more to the outside on Ohtani this year, which might be a reason his slugging is so much higher when he goes the other way. But his slugging when pulling the ball this year to drop 223 points. Like we said, weird. Maybe that has something to do with the elbow?

That will be the key for Ohtani next year, at least at the plate. If he can start turning on balls again, and make himself dangerous to all fields, then he can be a decent supporting act for Mike Trout in the coming years. If he continues to try and spell his name on the infield grass and dirt, he’ll only be a passable DH moving forward.