Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Rangers 7 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Rangers 1 – White Sox 2

Game 3: Rangers 4 – White Sox 8

 

 

Now that’s more like it.

Every year around this time we as Sox fans start worrying that the offense isn’t going to live up to expectations, and almost every year when the calendar is about to flip from April to May the bats wake up in a barrage of offense and we all collectively slap our foreheads for being so silly. This year is no different, as the Sox offense exploded for 36 hits and 19 runs across this 3 game set against the Rangers. More interestingly out of character is the way the team knocked in those runs.

Game one was the kind of hitting display that makes older fans turgid, with the Sox banging out 16 hits with only a single dinger from Moncada accounting for any of the 9 runs. Game 2 was the classic “Pitcher’s Duel,” with Keuchel and Kyle Gibson locked into a death stare, and the first one to blink was actually Jose Trevino, as he let a passed ball give the Sox the lead 1-0 in the 6th. Madrigal would later walk the Sox off in the 9th with a double over Joey Gallo’s head. The 3rd game was a mix of the previous two, with Jose hitting a two run bomb to kick things off, and Michael Kopech mowing Rangers hitters down with seemingly little effort. It was quite the sight to behold, and with the warmest weather of the season forecast for this week, combined with the 3rd worst team ERA coming to town shit could get wild.

 

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-I’ve watched a lot of Sox pitching prospects come up and succeed in my time following the team, and there’s never been one who’s raw pitching talent has been on the level of where Michael Kopech currently sits. His stuff is just beyond filthy. Just look at the movement his 97 mph fastball has on this punchout pitch to Joey Gallo:

I understand the need to manage his innings this year and completely support it, but seeing shit like this makes watching Dylan Cease starts that much more difficult.

-Speaking of Cease, nothing has changed since his last go around. He only made it through 3.1 innings, and threw an unholy amount of pitches in the 1st inning, ultimately totaling 86 in that span. His underlying spin rate metrics are ranked quite highly according to Statcast, but he just doesn’t get the outs and is always less than economical about the way he throws his pitches. It’s kind of a mystery, and I’m running out of patience for him to solve it. I’d suggest him being moved to an opener type scenario, but you have to be able to make it once through the rotation to be effective in that scenario.

-Yermin Mercedes continues to be hilariously good at hitting the baseball, going 6-12 in the series with two walks. There’s not much else to say about him, other than the fact that he’s taken the sting out of losing Eloy for 5 months. The Sox are going to have to have him work in the field somewhere, because once they head to Cincinnati next month, they’re gonna need his bat in the lineup. Also, I’d like to try his burger.

-Nick Madrigal is going to annoy the fuck out of opposing teams and their fanbases for the next millennia or so. He came up with two huge hits this series, walking the team off with a double over Gallo’s head in game 2 and a bases clearing triple in the gap in game 3. He’s a pretty divisive figure even amongst Sox fans, but once he gets to the point where he plays more consistent defense I feel he’s going to be a fixture in this lineup for a long time.

-Liam Hendriks screaming “FUCK ME” after giving up a game tying dinger in the top of the 9th in game two was hilariously audible on the broadcast, and Stone had to cover with a “he’s not very happy” comment. I get being pissed at yourself, but Willie Calhoun had no business tomahawking that nipples-high fastball out of the park. 99 times out of 100 that’s a swinging strike. That being said, Hendriks still has given up too many long balls thus far in the season and that bears watching as we go forward.

-Lucas Giolito apparently cut his middle finger trying to open a bottle of water which wasn’t a twist-off. I don’t know what brand of water seals their product in with razor blades, but I’m sure I can’t afford it. At any rate, seems like no cause for alarm with Lucas and he should be back on the mound for the series opener Tuesday night against Detroilet.

-You can SEE Moncada, Abreu and Luis Robert heating up at the plate. All 3 had hits that would’ve been dingers a month from now in warmer weather, and it’s only a matter of time before the middle of that Sox order is giving opposing pitchers night sweats. Love to see it.

-Codi Heuer is turning out to be what everyone assumed Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer were going to be: the shut down reliever TLR turns to with the game on the line in the 7th and 8th. Awesome stuff.

-The Sox now sit a game and a half behind the Royals (yes, THOSE Royals) for 1st in the Central Division, while the Twins just lost a series to the Pittsburgh Pirates (LOL). Nobody out there believes that this is how it’s gonna go for the rest of the season, but I’m still gonna enjoy the Twins eating shit in the basement for a few more weeks.

-Next up is the Detroit Tigers, who managed to get totally cock punched by the aforementioned Royals this past weekend. They have the 3rd worst team ERA in the league so far, and the weather is supposed to be windy and warm. Strap in, because it looks like the Sox are going streaking.

LFG

 

Baseball

VS.

 

Records: Rangers 8-9 / White Sox 9-9

First Pitch: Fri 7:10 / Sat 6:10 / Sun 1:10

TV & Radio: NBCSN & ESPN 1000

We Need Another New Stadium: Lone Star Ball

 

Probable Starters

Friday: Dane Dunning (1-0 0.60 ERA) vs. Dylan Cease (0-0 3.86 ERA)

Saturday: Kyle Gibson (2-0 2.53 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (1-1 5.79 ERA)

Sunday: Kohei Arihara (2-1 2.21 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-0 5.68 ERA)

 

OLD FREIND ALERT

Take the above probable starters above with a grain of salt, because as of me writing this Tony LaRussa has not yet tipped his hand as to how he’s planning on setting his rotation this weekend. Having the rainout on Wednesday giving his guys an extra day of much needed rest, he’s pretty much able to start whoever he’d like short of Carlos Rodon tonight. If he sticks to the order that he’s had thus far in the season, tonight’s matchup may cause Sox Twitter to implode like no other.

The return to the Down Arrow of our Bespectacled Buddy Dane Dunning facing off against Dylan Cease in a battle of Who Should Hahn Really Have Traded For Lance Lynn (who’s fucking hurt now anyways) will be polarizing to say the least. Dunning has gotten off to an outstanding start, giving up a measly 1 earned run in 15 innings pitched, to go along with 15 strikeouts and a crisp 1.06 WHIP. His counterpart has pretty much picked up where he left off last season, giving up 6 runs in the same amount of innings thrown but with a much uglier 1.71 WHIP. Cease has continued his inability to go deep into games, throwing far too many pitches and not putting hitters away when he has count leverage.

Dunning on the other hand has been pretty masterful thus far for a surprisingly competent Rangers squad. His huge arsenal of pitches he throws helps him keep hitters off kilter, never knowing what the next pitch is going to be. He’s able to keep the ball on the ground (which in his new home park is an absolute must) and work quickly in the vein of Mark Buehrle. The Rangers have come out and said that Dunning is on an innings limit this season, so the deepest he’s gone into a game so far is the 6th (which is still further than Cease, who is NOT on any such restriction).

The rest of the Rangers rotation has been above average thus far, which is somewhat of a surprise because on paper it’s probably one of the worst in the AL. Twins castoff Kyle Gibson has rebounded from the rough stretch in 2019-20 where he gave up dingers like they were going out of style. His 5.21 ERA in 2020 was one of the worst in the AL, and it’s obviously not what the Rangers were hoping for when they signed him to a 3 year deal worth roughly 10 million per. This season he’s gotten back to what made him successful in 2018 by throwing his 4 seamer much more (roughly 56% of the time, up from around 48%) and he’s added a cutter that he uses to run in on the hands of lefties.

Kohei Arihara takes the bump on Sunday, and so far he’s been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers. Signed from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (god I love Japanese team names) just after Christmas this past December, Arihara is a Swiss Army Knife of a pitcher. According to Statcast, he threw SEVEN different types of pitches against the Angels in his last start. He tossed a 4 seamer, a slider, a curve, a cutter, a change, a splitter, and for the first time all year he threw a knuckleball. There’s also a pitch that he’s thrown more than once that Statcast has been unable to identify. So tack on some kind of UFO pitch to his arsenal. Arihara was the NPB equivalent of the Cy Young winner in 2019, going 15-6 with a 2.48 ERA. He signed a 2 year deal with the Rangers this off-season and so far has made it seem like a solid investment.

Offensively the Rangers are pretty short handed, 3rd from the bottom in total production league-wide. After the imposing figure of Joey Gallo, there’s pretty much just Nate Lowe (who was blocked at every position in Tampa, so they flipped him for some other prospects they’ll turn into gold) and Nick Solak who leads the team with a .279 average. The group as a whole doesn’t do anything special, and is pretty much waiting for the sample size to catch up to them. That doesn’t mean they can’t jump on an unprepared pitching staff, as the Angels just found out this past week. This is a boom or bust offense, as in their 8 wins, they’ve averaged a total of 6.2 runs per. In the 9 losses they average a mere 2.7 runs per game, and that includes one to the Royals where they scored 10. If an opposing team can keep them off the board they’re gonna have some success.

As for the Sox, after grinding out a win against Cleveland on Tuesday and enjoying another snow-out on Wednesday they finally managed to sweep a team and end a series on a positive note. The offense definitely showed signs of life after banging out 11 hits and 8 runs against the Spawn Of Dan Plesac. That’s twice now this season the Sox bats have run his ass off the mound, hoping its the start of a trend.

Jose Abreu had 3 hits in that game, two of which left the yard and one of which has yet to land. He absolutely murdered an inside fastball from Plesac in his 2nd at bat of the game that had an exit velocity of 116 MPH and sounded like it cracked the sound barrier. Jose has historically been a slow starter in his career, so his signs of life recently may be the beginning of better things.

Along those same lines is Yasmani Grandal, who also cranked out his second dinger so far. After having a down year at the dish last season, the ability for Grandal to use video this year was supposed to turn things around for him. Based on how well he turned around on the high fastball from Cal Quantril on Tuesday, it may just be working.

As mentioned above, if the Rangers don’t score more than 5 they don’t win the game. It’s going to be up to the starters to keep them off the board, and for the bullpen to live up to the moniker of “best in the Central.” It’ll be interesting to see how Lucas Giolito fares after the wet fart of a start against Boston this past Monday where he gave up 6 runs in the first inning and 7 total. Historically, Lucas has responded to a shitty start by going out the next one and throwing smoke. In starts after he’s given up 5+ runs the outing before he’s averaged 3 or less runs every single time. That’s damn impressive. If he’s able to repeat that stat here, given the Rangers tendencies thus far this season that should be a win for the Sox.

With a 9 game homestand starting tonight and the weather expected to breach the upper 70s next week this is a good setup for the Sox to go on an extended run. Throw in the fact that after the Rangers the Tigers wander into town followed by a Cleveland team the Sox have been much more competitive with this season and you have all the ingredients for a successful stretch of baseball. Tim Anderson and Luis Robert are both hitting above .300 now, and with Grandal and Abreu looking more dialed in now is the time to blow up the standings in the AL Central. Get it done

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

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Sox 6 – Rangers 1

Game 2: Sox 8 – Rangers 3

Game 3: Sox 0 – Rangers 4

Game 4: Sox 2 – Rangers 0

 

 

 

Sorry about the late recap, had some family stuff yesterday. Better late than never, which seems to apply to Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease lately, eh? At any rate, an excellent series win for our Pale Hose, as they found different ways to win each of the 3 games. Game 1 it was all about the offense, and the return of Yoan Moncada. Game 2 it was a mix of the offense and Dylan Cease saying “fuck it” and going into beast mode after the shitty first inning. Game 4 was all about the pitching as Lopez was rolling with a No-No before his Tum-Tum got icky, but the pen was more than up to the task of shutting down a spiraling Rangers offense. All things I like to see before the fucking Twins show their stupid faces again.  To the bullets!

 

The Numbers Don’t Lie

 

 

-First off, some credit where it’s due. Boss Detwiler showed up Thursday night and punched tickets from the get-go. It was a welcome sight after the Twins bounced liners off his skull in his previous appearance, and while I don’t expect it to last I’m gonna enjoy it for the time being. The Sox have an off day this week so if Ricky wanted to skip his spot in the rotation he could, but with them trying to manage Cease’s innings the rest of the way I would guess Boss Ross starts this week.

-Welcome back Yoan Moncada! Two home runs in his first two games back is exactly what I wanted to see. Like much of the Sox offense he was held down on Saturday and Sunday, but having both him and Timmy in the lineup for the first time since June makes the offense that much more effective. Having Jose Abreu and James McCann back contributing makes things even better and gives the Sox a legit 5-6 mashers in that lineup.

-Dylan Cease showed some brass ones in his start Friday night. After surrendering a 3 run shot to Big Willie Calhoun during a 32 pitch first it seemed the prize rookie was on his way to another early exit. Then he shut down the next 11 Rangers hitters including back to back punchouts after the dinger to Calhoun. He struck out a career high 9 in a 6 inning quality start and now has 50 strikeouts in 50 MLB innings. The questions about Cease have never involved his stuff, which was on full display Friday night. The “big inning” issue is one of confidence and experience, one that Mark Buherle famously faced in the opening months of his career. Once Cease gets that under control, his top of the rotation stuff can take over and it will be even more fun to watch.

-Reynaldo Lopez continued his second half resurgence Sunday until he was betrayed by his own body in the 6th inning and had to run and take a shit. His fastball was electric, and he was able to spot it up in the zone pretty much at will, striking out 6 in those 5 innings. His change was down at the bottom of the zone, and his slider seemed to have good life on it as well. More please!

-Since we cant have ALL nice things, Leury Garcia got drilled on the shin Sunday and had to leave. X-rays were negative, and the Sox have him listed as day to day.

-Jose Abreu drove in his 100th RBI of the season, and he now is 3rd all time on the Sox in 100+ RBI seasons, behind Big Frank and Konerko. That’s a quality club to be a member of, and once the ink is dry on his inevitable extension this offseason I’m sure there are a few more waiting in the wings.

-Next up is the fucking Twins again. Giolito starts off that series Tuesday night, here’s hoping he blanks them again as I enjoy free beers and the sadness of Twins fans.

 

Baseball

VS

RECORDS: Rangers 63-65 / White Sox 57-69 (nice) (not really)

GAMETIMES: Thursday/Friday 7:05,  Saturday 6:10,  Sunday 1:10

TV: Thurs/Fri/Sun NBCSN,  Saturday WGN

BECAUSE GOOD IS DUMB:  Lone Star Ball

 

Hot damn that was an awesome game to take the series from the Twins yesterday. Gi0lito was absolutely dominant in mowing down 12 Twins, who are the league leaders in team slugging percentage. Lucas truly has gotten his ship righted and the home stretch here should feature the Sox having a chance to win anytime he starts. Unfortunately for us, he’s not going to be starting at all this series, so hopes for a series win or split rest with Reynaldo Lopez and Ivan Nova. Thankfully this is not the same Rangers team the Sox faced back in June.

Since the last series with the Good Old Boys from Arlington, things ain’t so good no more for the Rangers. Turns out the team everyone thought was smoke and mirrors was actually comprised of smoke and mirrors. In the first few months of the season, the Rangers were 8th in the AL in hitting and 8th in the AL in pitching. All in all not a bad place to be, as with a little luck being in the middle of the pack everywhere allows you to compete.  They weren’t able to stay there however, as since July the Rangers have slid considerably down the Hill O’ Regression. They dropped to 11th of 15 in hitting, but managed to only slip to 9th in pitching. Some of the slide in hitting was (unbelievably) Hunter Pence hitting the IL, as he had miraculously been able to kick Father Time in the dick and post the type of numbers that hadn’t been seen since he first showed up in the Bay Area eight years ago. The other dagger was Joey Gallo hitting the injured list as well with a fractured hamate bone in his hand. While that sucks for him (and if I’m being honest, baseball as a whole as he was basically the AL’s version of Cody Bellinger before he went down) and the Rangers, it did result in this quality Twitter thread when TR Sullivan accidentally typed “hamster bone” instead of “hamate.”

Since the All Star game, the Rangers have had the same type of success as the White Sox, going 17-27 in that stretch, and now find themselves way outside of the playoff picture looking in. Much like the White Sox, they largely stood pat at the trade deadline. One of their only moves was to acquire Nate Jones on a flyer from the Sox for a couple of low-A minor league players. Veterans that could’ve fetched something at the deadline such as Pence and Shin-Soo Choo have stayed. The younger players here are somewhat of a mixed bag, as Danny Santana and Delino DeShields have been playing pretty well, but Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara have shown to be only slightly above replacement level. Elvis Andrus is still a plus-level player at shortstop, but has entered the dreaded Year 30 season and we all know it’s a rocket sled to obscurity from here on out.

On the pitching side, Lance Lynn and Mike Minor have been able to continue their solid run and keep the rotation afloat for the most part. The other trade the Rangers made at the deadline was to acquire Kolby Allard from the Braves for the lead singer of Coldplay, Chris Martin. Allard was a pretty highly ranked prospect arm for the Braves, but they have a lot of those and Allard was deemed expendable. He’s been decent for the Rangers so far going 1-0 in his first three starts, two of which featured him giving up three or less runs. The other was six. He’s similar to Dylan Cease in that he features a plus fastball and curveball, and an above average changeup. When he can control his fastball up in the zone his stuff is pretty unhittable. Allard will go on Saturday against Nova in what I guess will be the marquee pitching matchup for this series?

As for the Sox, after their solid series victory against the Twins they come home having gone 3-4 on the seven-game road trip. Some very good starting pitching, and some very not good bullpen pitching makes that number what it is. The Sox bats have come alive as well, with Jose Abreu hitting .345 with four home runs and 15 RBI in that span. The Sox should also get Yoan Moncada back from his hamstring stint on the IL, which will hopefully move Ryan Goins over to 2b and planting Yolmer firmly on the bench, waiting for his chance to come in and bunt. Ross Detwiler gets the 5th starter spot this time around, and if he can replicate what Hector Santiago did in his start against the Angels I’d be OK with that. Dylan Cease gets another shot to keep the ball in the park, as he tries to straighten the learning curve out (pun intended).

Much like the past few series, if the Sox can keep the ball in the park they stand a decent chance of at least taking half these games. Getting Yoan back at the hot corner should provide a boost to the Sox offense, and hopefully it can carry them to a series win.

Don’t Stop Now Boys.

Baseball

What to make of Joey Gallo? When the Rangers drafted him in the late stages of the first round in 2013, they were hoping they had found their power hitter of the future. The rock they could build their roster around for years to come. During his trek through the minors, Gallo looked to be exactly that, averaging well over a 120 wRC+ throughout multiple levels of their system. Parallel to that was his extraordinarily high K-rate. Through his 3 1/2 years in the Rangers minor league system, the lowest K-rate he ever posted was  29% in high A ball, and that was with less than 250 plate appearances. The highest was in AAA where he spiked to 39.5% with 228 plate appearances.

So the Rangers had found their power threat, and when they called him up full time in 2017 he proved just that, swatting 41 home runs in his rookie season to go along with 80 RBI. The thing that stands out about that is that more than 50% of Gallo’s runs batted in that season came from the long ball. That’s inordinately high, as the MLB average in 2017 was just under 40% for the top 20 leaders in home runs. He also carried over his penchant for striking out at a hilariously high rate, with his K-percentage sitting just under 37%. These trends showed up the following season in 2018, with his K-rate again in the upper 30’s, his home runs in the low 40s, and his RBI totals in the upper 80s.

Then this year happened. He started out the season on an absolute tear, hitting 16 home runs with 42 RBIs. His K-rate was still high, but his walk rate spiked as well, going up to almost 20%. Gallo was attempting to buck the narrative that he was a true “three outcomes hitter” by displaying doubles power to the opposite field all of a sudden. Gallo also showed some maturity in the field, matching his career high for assists in a season (8) within the first two and a half months. Had he continued at that pace, he would’ve easily passed his season records for singles, doubles, home runs and RBIs. Unfortunately, he also spent a considerable time on the IL this season, most recently fracturing the hamate bone in the palm of his hand. Based on most projections pertaining to healing times, he’s probably done for the season.

So who is Joey Gallo, really? Is he the dinger/strikeout/walk guy from 2016-2018? Or is the complete player that appeared this season? Looking at his advanced stats from this year, his BABIP sits at .368, which is fairly high but not to the point where you would think regression would cut his progress so far off at the knees. When you combine his BABIP from the previous two seasons it sits at .250, which is .118 lower then his BABIP this season. It’s also way below the league average, even for a power hitter such as him. If you split the difference between the two you get .309, and looking at Gallo’s numbers he put up before the hamate injury that seems to be just about right. His wRC+ for 2019 was at 144, with it being around 120 the previous two seasons.

Looking at the big picture for the Rangers it seems like Gallo has turned into exactly what they were hoping for: a gigantic lefty power hitter who the club can build around for seasons to come. The main question for them now is are they doing a good enough job with it? Danny Santana has busted out in a big way this year, but a peek at his advanced stats shows a lot of smoke and not much fire. Delino DeShields started slow but appears to be coming on now. Elvis Andrus is still awesome, but at 30 years old now is he going to be a part of this rebuild the Rangers now find themselves in? Nomar Mazara was supposed to be a thing, but he’s just a guy. Rougned Odor throws a mean right and is good for 25 home runs, but can he bat above the Mendoza line?

These are all questions the Rangers need answered if they’re gonna build around Joey Gallo. He’s definitely the kind of guy you can build a contender around, but I don’t know if they’ve done a good enough job so far to make use of him properly.

Sounds a lot like Jose Abreu.

Baseball

Game 1: Sox 5 – Rangers 4 (10 Innings)

Game 2: Sox 5 – Rangers 6

Game 3: Sox 4 – Rangers 7

 

Same shit, different day.  That’s the only way you can sum up the stream of drizzling shits the White Sox starting rotation oozes out series after series.  If Giolito isn’t pitching the Sox offense is going to have to carry the day, unless it’s the 1 out of 5 starts where Nova or Lopez is useful.  I’ve seen 5000% more Odrisamer Despagine starts then I’ve ever cared to in my entire life, and yet I know Hahn and Renteria are going to trot him out there again to kick off the Twins series next weekend.  I’d be willing to bet Vegas sets the over/under for that game somewhere around 18 runs to start.

I understand that injuries are a thing, and the Sox staff has been hit with more than their fair share of them this season, but so have other teams.  The Yankees have had every single one of their starters hurt at one point or another this season, and yet their games seem to be eminently watchable.  Can you imagine the frothing fury of the New York media if Brian Cashman signed Despagine for any reason OTHER than to carry buckets of sunflower seeds to the bullpen?  The New York Post would spontaneously combust in people’s hands (which is probably best for everybody involved).  Yet here the Sox sit, Hahn never really having to answer to anyone as to why he thinks this rotation is acceptable.   He gets to hide in the shadow of the North Siders, and we are stuck watching it.  On top of that the Hawks traded Pittsburgh for a cantaloupe on skates, and the Predators sent PK Subban to New Jersey for some seashells and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol.  Sigh.

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-At least there was some fun stuff this series.  Zack Collins finally got to start a game, and rewarded Renteria with a 3 run shot to dead center field.  He waited until Jurado made a mistake with a 2-2 slider and stepped into it for an exciting start to his career.  It was his only hit of the series, but at least he made it count.  His first time behind the dish was catching for Despagine, so I guess the jury is going to remain out on his ability to catch a major league starter for a bit longer.

-Tim Anderson seems to be heating up again, hitting safely in all 3 games and absolutely pummeling the Rangers pitching staff in game 2 to the tune of 4 RBIs.  He only sees about 8 pitches a game, but if he wants to swing like Javy Baez and he can have the same results I’m all for it.  Like Sam said in our round table for the Cubs/Sox series, there are going to peaks and valleys to players who treat plate discipline like it’s pizza in St. Louis, but as long as the peaks are as high as Timmy’s have been so far it’s gonna be fun.

-Ryan Cordell is nice and all, but he’s not a major league starter.  As soon as they’re able to voodoo Jon Jay back to life, he needs to shamble his ass out to right field because I’m kinda done with Cordell.  Bryce Harper woulda looked pretty good out there too, but whatever.

-Don’t look now but Jace Fry and Kelvin Herrera have a pulse.  Both have looked pretty solid over the last few appearances, and Herrera even scored the win in game 1.  Combined with Colome and Bummer, the back end of the Sox bullpen is looking pretty tasty right now.

-Reynaldo Lopez gave up a bundle of runs early then settled down to a decent line in night one.  His changeup was not locating well, unless you were sitting in right center field and looking for a souvenir, but he was able to (mostly) use his fastball to keep the Rangers off balance.  I don’t know quite what it is, but if Lopez can get through the first inning OK it usually results in a pretty solid start for him.  Maybe lay off the monster energy drink in his pregame routine, I dunno.  Either way, the Sox need to see more of him if they’re gonna pencil him in as the 5th starter for the 2021 world series team.

-Yonder Alonso fucking sucks, and from here on out he should never start over Zack Collins unless they accidentally leave Collins on the bus and he gets stuck in Texas.  Maybe not even then.

 

Next up is a trip to Beantown.  If anyone happens to see Brad Marchand sitting in/next to a dumpster please send pictures.

 

Baseball

  VS

Records: White Sox 35-37  / Rangers 40-35

Gametimes: Friday/Saturday 7:05  Sunday 2:05

TV: NBCSN

Where The Buffalo Roam:  Lone Star Ball

Probable Starters:

Reynaldo Lopez vs Ariel Jurado

Odrisamer Despaigne vs Lance Lynn

Chevy Nova vs Adrian Simpson

PROBABLE LINEUPS:

RANGERS

  1. Shin-Soo Choo – DH
  2. Delino DeShields – CF
  3. Elvis Andrus – SS
  4. Nomar Mazara – RF
  5. Willie Calhoun – LF
  6. Asdrubal Cabrera – 3B
  7. Rougned Odor – 2B
  8. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  9. Jeff Mathis – C

 

WHITE SOX

  1. Leury Garcia – CF
  2. Tim Anderson – SS
  3. Jose Abreu – 1B
  4. James McCann (C/DH)
  5. Eloy Jimenez – LF
  6. Yoan Moncada – 3B
  7. Zack Collins (C/DH)
  8. Yolmer Sanchez (2B)
  9. Ryan Cordell (RF)

 

The Sox travel to the deep south this weekend after their backwards split with the North Siders in the middle of the week.  Down in Arlington they find a team that…should not be.  The Rangers currently sit in 2nd place in the AL West despite what was supposedly a rebuilding year for them, especially after a dead last finish the previous season.  Looking at the Rangers lineup, there really is no reason for them to be in 2nd place, or in wild card contention yet here we are.  Baseball is weird sometimes.

Their two biggest additions this past offseason were Lance Lynn and Hunter Pence, two guys who were expected to be just that.  Guys.  Position fillers until they’re either moved at the deadline for future assets, or placeholders until the next generation shows up to take their jobs.  They certainly weren’t expected to be doing what they’re currently doing.  Lance Lynn is the 2nd best pitcher in the entire league according to Fangraphs, and Hunter Pence (before he exploded his groin a few days ago) was expected to compete for an All Star spot in a crowded AL outfield.  Pence’s OBPS currently sits at a goofy .962, almost .200 points higher than his career average.  While Lynn’s peripheral stats suggest that this year might actually be sustainable, Pence’s ones really do not.

After those two, the monsters were supposed to be Joey Gallo and Elvis Andrus.  Gallo was tearing his way to an MVP level season before being felled by an oblique issue a few weeks ago.  Andrus continues to be what the Rangers hoped he would be, continuing his pseudo-breakout season from 2018.  He hits for pop, and plays well enough defense as to not be worried every time a ball shoots his way.  Shin-Soo Choo continues to be the most consistent thing about this roster, despite entering into his 37th year of existence.

The Rangers rotation is basically Lynn and Mike Minor, then a bunch of spare parts (sound familiar?). Minor is having an excellent year, and the pair of them are basically dragging the rest of the rotation into normalcy.  The bullpen is constantly in flux, as is the closer role.  Jose Leclerc was supposed to continue his breakout season from last year, but instead started off the year giving up somewhere around 389 earned runs.  Shawn Kelley has taken the reigns, but not to the point that Leclerc has been removed from the conversation.

The Sox come into the series after an ass backwards split with the Cubs that saw Ivan Nova and not Lucas Giolito hold the Cubs bats at bay.  The most concerning thing that came out of the series is that it seems Ricky Renteria is continuing his tradition of pushing his players to play through injuries.  Yoan Moncada has outright said that his back is more painful hitting from the right side, yet there he was Wednesday night being part of a double switch and attempting to bunt.  Leury Garcia is clearly nursing some type of lower body injury, as he doesn’t have his usual explosive speed and first step.  It brings to mind the dumbshittery Renteria pulled with Avi Garcia and his knee last season.

At any rate, if the Sox want to take this series the bats are going to have to be they way it’s done, as the combined ERA of all 3 Sox starters requires a TI-82 to calculate.  The Rangers lineup might not look threatening, especially missing Gallo and Pence, but they’ve been making it work all season.  Time to solve the puzzle and take 2 of 3 because you know O-Driss is gonna give up 9.

LETS GO SOX

Baseball

I’m gonna throw out a super weird stat for you.  Ready?  Here it goes:  Lance Lynn is currently the second best pitcher in all of baseball, according to Fangraphs.  Seriously.  If you were like me, that statement was definitely worth a double take at your computer screen.  Lynn has always been a solid, if unspectacular starter throughout his MLB career which up until recently was confined to the wastelands of St. Louis.  He debuted with somewhat of a bang in 2012, winning 18 games with a 3.78 ERA and 180 strikeouts.  That 18 wins has been the high watermark for him so far, as the closest he’s gotten since then was 15 (twice, in 2013 and 2014).  His stats have been pretty consistent along those lines, averaging somewhere between a 3.60-4.00 ERA, hovering around 170 Ks and a decent 3ish WAR.

So how has he gone from these satisfactory numbers to the more impressive ones he has this year?  Pitchers in their 7th season of playing usually don’t end up with their best seasons unless you’re Charlie Morton and the Astros have sprinkled their pixie dust on your elbow.  So is there a regression cliff ahead of this guy’s road to the AL Cy Young award?  If you look at the advanced stats you’d be surprised to see (again) that his numbers could actually stand to be a little better.  His K/9% is within his career averages, as is his BABIP and his strand rate.  His HR/FB ratio is down, but not to the point where you’d think it’s an aberration, especially with someone who’s fastball has a lot of sink on it.  So here’s where it gets kinda weird.  His FIP currently sits an entire point below his ERA, which leads you to believe that he’s not getting any help behind him, and he plays in a shit stadium for pitchers both things that are accurate.

He’s also added a few MPH to his fastball, which at his age is fairly impressive.  The other thing he’s doing is throwing the ball more consistently for strikes, cutting his walk rate by a few percent.  He’s also gotten his swinging strike rate up above 10%, which he hasn’t been able to do in half a decade.  Lynn credits the Rangers strength and conditioning coach with the increased velocity, and his ability to go deeper into games. So taking all that into account, it certainly seems like this Lance Lynn is the real deal, at least as far as I can tell looking at his advanced stats (and my fantasy baseball team ranking).  All this could be a mirage, I suppose, but the numbers don’t really support any severe regression coming.  Maybe all you have to do as a pitcher is get as far away from Imo’s Pizza as you possibly can?

The Rangers have definitely gotten themselves a steal in the offseason.  He’s certainly a major reason why Texas is in the thick of things in the AL west, and major obstacle for the Sox this weekend, especially if Leury Garcia and Yoan Moncada are hurting more than Galaxy Brain Renteria is letting on.

 

 

Baseball

vs.

DATES & TIMES: Thursday 3:05, Saturday 7:05, Sunday 3:05

TV: WGN Thursday, NBCSN Chicago Saturday and Sunday

NILL ESCAPEES: Lone Star Ball

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Jon Lester vs. Mike Minor

Yu Darvish vs. Edinson Volquez

Cole Hamels vs. Lance Lynn

CUBS PROBABLE LINEUP

Ben Zobrist – 2B

Kris Bryant – 3B

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Javier Baez – SS

Kyle Schwarber – LF

Willson Contreras – C

Jason Heyward – RF

Albert Almora Jr. – CF

David Bote – DH

 

RANGERS PROBABLE LINEUP

Shin-Soo Choo – DH

Rougned Odor – 2B

Elvis Andrus – SS

Nomar Mazara – RF

Joey Gallo – LF

Asdrubal Cabrera – 3B

Ronald Guzman – 1B

Jeff Mathis – C

Delino Deshields Jr. – CF

 

At least the offseason is over.

It’s been a long few months for Cubs fans. Not only did they have to sit and stew over two consecutive losses at home to end the season with two runs scored total (must be managed by Jeremy Colliton), but then their owner went and sat on the front office’s signing hands for months. So the relief that they’ll actually run out of the dugout is immeasurable today, if only to not see Tom Ricketts’s fucking face again. Let’s line it up and play.

The narratives are well known, but the one that will get overplayed from here on out is the status of Joe Maddon. Maddon didn’t turn out to be as innovative as we thought. He never shuts up even though he has little to say. The gimmicks and quirks have run a little dry. On the other hand, he took a beat up team last year through 43-straight days or whatever it ended up being and humped them (there’s an image for you) to 95 wins. We might be bored of all the lights and whistles, but the players aren’t and that’s what matters. Just don’t turn Steve Cishek into silly puddy again.

Another one Cubs fans might become hyper aware of is Opening Day starter Jon Lester and his decline. Lester was able to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge his way through the season last year, but his strikeout-rate sank, his hard-contact against rose, and he basically had his defense to thank for it all. And now he’s 35. The BABIP Dragon can be a cruel foe. You won’t find a grindy-er guy than Lester who will sit on the corners no matter what, and maybe he’s got one last surge in him to be the guy he’s been. He’s certainly a bellwether on this team, and the rotation is buffeted enough that it can probably survive if he’s just huckin’ dead fish out there by July.

The other big story of the series is Yu Darvish returning to the Cubs and returning to Texas. A lot of where the Cubs go hinges on what Darvish can provide, as he’s something of a new acquisition this season. If he stays healthy. Which is a huge if, as you’re talking about a guy who hasn’t seen 200 innings since 2013 and is coming off an injury-ruined campaign. Spring training was fun, he looks good, but everyone looks good until they get hit. It feels boom-or-bust.

Other than that, the lineup could still be doomsday gun. The bullpen will be an adventure for a bit, until Pedro Strop comes in and everything will be fine. And remember, Carl Edwards Jr. is great until August. Worry about it then.

To the Rangers, who somehow are in the last year of their stay in Arlington because it’s like 18-years-old and that’s totally outdated and fuck you that’s why. Fuckin’ Texas. Anyway, moving into a new stadium in the middle of a rebuild is always a choice, but here we are. The Rangers are gonna be bad, the Angels, A’s, and Astros especially are going to eat their innards on the highway all year, and it’s going to be fucking hot as balls.

The rotation is reclamation projects galore, with Shelby Miller, Drew Smyly, and Lance Lynn populating it. Hell, Mike Minor, the starter today, is one. The hope is probably to get these guys looking like something before the deadline and flogging them for whatever they can scrape off the pavement. You don’t make long-term plans around Lance Lynn, in the same vein as friends and salad and such.

In the lineup, only Nomar Mazara–who seriously looks like he’s about to destroy a small town every time he steps into the box–and Ronald Guzman figure to be around when the Rangers matter again. Guzman doesn’t project to be a star, and Mazara has had three goes at the American League without punching through. So clock’s ticking. This is the first year Elvis Andrus will look to his right and not see Adrian Beltre, so he might spend the whole year in black and playing Smiths records. Which we all should when it comes to the absence of Beltre. Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo are here for your strikeouts, home runs, and Cousin Vinny jokes.

Hey Hey Holy Mackerel…