It takes a special kind of fuck up to take a series win like the Sox had and make it feel like they just got swept, yet here we sit. The Sox took the first two games against the Mariners in very high quality fashion, with Carlos Rodon hitting 98 on the gun on night 1, and Jose Abreu launching his 2nd granny of the season in night 2.
Then came the 6th inning in game 3.
With the Sox holding a 4-1 lead, Dallas Keuchel took the mound and promptly gave up a walk and a single, which involved Adam Eaton attempting to throw out Jose Marmolejos at second and it ending up in front of the Mariners bench. That was the end of Keuchel’s day, and in came Matt Foster to attempt to stem the bleeding. 5 hits and two walks later the Sox were down 7-4 and the game was out of reach.
TO THE BULLETS:
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
-Let’s get this out of the way to start: LaRussa totally left Matt Foster out there to drown. After the game, LaRussa had this to say about the whole situation:
Yeah, no shit.
-The big selling point of having TLR over Ricky Renteria on the bench was the fact that Tony was supposed to be this mad genius working with the bullpen. Leaving Foster out there for 40 pitches and 6 runs while you have Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks, neither of whom had thrown in days, sitting on their hands in the pen is inexcusable. These guys are supposed to be your HIGH LEVERAGE relievers, and you’ve got the game on the line. What in the fuck are you waiting for?
-Also, the lineup that TLR threw out for game 3 made me think it was 2018 again. The rebuild is supposed to be over, and yet Billy Hamilton (who is fine, don’t get me wrong), Jake Lamb and Danny Mendick are all starting. This was insanely apparent when Justin Dunn walked 42 people in 5 innings, yet the Sox could only scratch 4 runs off him.
-Dallas Keuchel is beginning to worry me as well. He has yet to get out of the 6th inning in either of his starts and most of his stuff is up in the zone. Sinking fastballs don’t do much good when they’re letter high. He may still not be stretched out yet, but this definitely is a red flag right now.
-Anyways, Carlos Rodon looked pretty good on Monday night, going 5 strong innings with 9 Ks. His 3 walks all came in the same inning, but he then turned around and struck out the next 3 guys to get himself out of his own jam. Hard Carl indeed.
-Zack Collins had himself a strong series as well, going 3-9 in his two starts with 5 RBI, 3 of which came on a bomb shot in game 2. Once Engel comes back, playing time for guys like Collins and The Yerminator might start being pretty sparse, which sucks because you need them in the lineup right now, especially with the Human Sinkhole playing in RF.
-Lucas Giolito had pretty much the same start as Rodon, giving up 3 and striking out 10 in his 5.1 innings of work. He looked great, but with no Sox starter making out of the 6th inning the bullpen is begging them to last longer. Lance Lynn will get his chance, as he takes the bump on Opening Day on the South Side against the Royals, which leads me to:
Series Preview: Royals At White Sox – Homeward Bound
Thursday: Brad Keller (0-0, 40.50 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Saturday: TBD vs. Dylan Cease (0-0 5.79 ERA)
Coming home in front of fans for the first time since the end of the 2019 season should feel pretty good for the Sox. Getting the fuck out of the West Coast should feel even better. Waiting for them on the South Side are the Kansas City Royals, who sit on a 3-2 record after absolutely blowing the doors off the Rangers in their first series, then splitting with Cleveland in the second. The Royals bats have come out of the gate on fire, scoring 33 runs in their first 5 games. 14 of those runs were scored against the Rangers opening day, with 8 different Royals plating a run in the fracas.
Under normal circumstances, the Royals offense is powered by Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler, with the corpse of Salvador “No Bat Flips” Perez helping out when he can. This season featured the arrival of Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi to the mix. Santana signed as a free agent from Cleveland in January, and the Royals acquired the services of Benintendi from the BoSox in a 3 team trade that sent prospect Khalil Lee to the Mets. The 5 of those guys combined with Hunter Dozier give the Royals (on paper) a pretty decent middle of the batting order. Obviously it’s worked out pretty well thus far.
As far as the pitching staff goes, coach Mike Matheny goes with Brad Keller on Thursday, who will be supremely disappointed to find out that Tim Anderson is on the DL. I’m sure he’ll find someone else on the Sox bench he can throw at. Maybe Yermin? Anyways, Keller got shelled his first start of the season, only lasting 1.1 innings, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs against the Rangers. Keller is a fastball/slider combo guy, who also uses a sinker about 20% of the time. He was converted to a starter in 2018 after the Royals basically ran out of pitchers, and has had decent success there, sporting a 21-23 record with a 3.63 ERA in that span. There isn’t much that’s exciting about Keller, but he keeps the ball in the park and his team in the game.
As for the rest of the starts, Matheny has decided to treat it (as he usually does) like some kind of national secret, preferring to announce the starters day of. Realistically, we can probably expect to see Mike Minor and Brady singer over the weekend. Mike Minor at this point is a known quantity, a career 4.00 ERA kind of pitcher who will give you innings and not much else. Brady Singer, however, is a far more intriguing figure in terms of ability. Singer was the Royals 1st overall pick in 2018, taken 18th out of the University of Florida. He made his debut last year in the covid season and performed pretty admirably going 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA. Right now, Singer works as a two pitch pitcher, primarily a sinker/slider type guy. Both of them are pretty solid, but they could benefit greatly from adding a 3rd option. Over the off-season he added a changeup, which he began throwing in spring training to middling success. If he can refine it, I could very easily see Singer becoming something much more than a back-end starter, which is where he’s currently projected to end up.
As for the Sox, escaping from the West coast with a 3-4 record is not exactly ideal, especially since they very easily could have won 6 of the 7 if the defense had been league average. Sadly, that was not the case and the Sox blew leads in every loss they had. The hitting hasn’t quite come around yet either, with the team stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd like it was going out of style. Combine that with the, shall we say, questionable bullpen management by TLR, and we’re left with a lot more questions than answers thus far.
With Lance Lynn taking the bump today, and an off day tomorrow, the Sox bullpen should hopefully be able to get considerable rest before the weekend. Odds are they’re probably gonna be needed at least on Saturday, with Dylan Cease on the mound. Both him and Rodon had exceptional spring trainings, but only Rodon has carried it over to the regular season this far.
With Tim Anderson officially going on IL yesterday, we can expect to see a lot of Leury Garcia at SS this weekend. Leury has not exactly gotten off to a blazing start so far, going 2-20 with no RBIs. While the Royals have the kind of staff that should theoretically allow Leury to turn stuff around, the Sox are really going to need him and Madrigal to fire up the bottom of the order.
With a week of home cooking for the Sox, it’s a good chance for them to set things right. Hopefully TLR’s issues with the bullpen this far is just him being acclimated to his new crew and how relievers in general are being utilized in today’s MLB. The Sox starters are better than anything the Rangers throw out there, so theoretically the Royals hitters should have a more difficult time finding pitches to drive. Now’s the time to right the ship and take that first real steps towards the postseason. Get it done.
LET’S GO SOX