Baseball

BOX SCORES

White Sox 12 – Orioles 1

White Sox 8 – Orioles 3

White Sox 7 – Orioles 5 (10 Innings)

 

27 runs in 3 games is a pretty impressive feat. 68 runs in 10 games in the month of July is even moreso. The fact that the Sox are doing this with only 3 of the 9 players that were pegged to be starters at the beginning of the season is downright mind boggling. It hasn’t mattered who has gone down with injuries, there’s been someone who’s come up from AAA and grabbed the baton and kept running with it. Granted, there’s really no way that this level of production from what is essentially 2/3rds of a AAA roster is sustainable. For the time being, however, it’s been more than enough to keep the Sox on top of the Death Star Trash Compactor that is the AL Central.

Heading into the All Star break, the Sox currently sit 8 games ahead of the Cleveland Baseball Team with a 54-35 record and a 3rd best in the league +117 run differential. Their pitching staff ranks 1st in ALL OF BASEBALL with an accumulated 15.1 WAR (according to Fangraphs), and the offense is not far behind at 4th with 16.4 total WAR. This has all been done with one of the highest amounts of innings lost to injury in the league, with by far and away the largest amount of high-value players who’ve succumbed to stints on the IL.

It’s pretty unbelievable what this team has accomplished thus far in this season, and I have to give some credit to Tony LaRussa. Trust me, I really don’t want to but the fact that he’s pretty much let this team and locker room be itself has not been lost on me. Outside of the shit with Yermin and some interesting bullpen and lineup choices here and there he has not been the poison that I was afraid he would be, so kudos to him for that.

Also credit to Rick Hahn for making a few shrewd moves so far by signing Billy Hamilton and Brian Goodwin for a song. The cheapness of the organization as a whole and Jerry Reinsdorf in particular are never going to change, but Hahn deserves credit for the moves that work (Hamilton, Goodwin, Rodon) as much as the shitty moves that don’t (Eaton, Eaton and more Eaton). His biggest test will be over the next 3 weeks as he attempts to make some night moves to fill the holes in RF, 2B and at C until Yasmani Grandal can return from his knee surgery. The Sox also need at least 2 more bullpen arms, as Jose Ruiz and Matt Foster should not have a place on the playoff roster unless something changes in the next 2 months.

Finally, our Sweet Baby Boy Eloy has begun his rehab stint almost a month early and he’s already gone yard. Odds are we wont see him until the beginning of August at the earliest, but just having him on the horizon will be a boon to an already potent offense.

I’ll be back later in the week with some midseason grades for those lucky folk who are still on the roster and not the IL. Until then, enjoy the spectacle of the Dinger Derby and the ASG itself. Hopefully our 4 All Stars make it through unscathed, making the Sox look even better in the process. See you all soon.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 16 – Twins 4

Game 2: White Sox 4 – Twins 5

Game 3: White Sox 2 – Twins 1

 

It is the most White Sox thing ever that the biggest headline in a series where the Sox took 2 of 3 against their ancient rival the Twins is Tony LaRussa throwing his own player under the bus for smoking a shitty 48 mph ephus pitch thrown by a catcher into dead center for a massive dong.

I could spend hours talking about how fucking stupid the “unwritten rules” of baseball are, or how terribly out of touch LaRussa is, or how close he could be to losing the entire locker room, or how the “unwritten rules” shouldn’t fucking apply when the other team puts a second string catcher in to pitch. I could talk about all those things at length, but those have been gone over ad nauseum the past 2 days and I’m honestly just fucking exhausted with the whole thing. So instead I’m going to focus on the fact that the Sox have now taken 5 of 6 against the Twins, and just how wonderfully hilarious it is just how bad they are.

Also: fuck Rocco Baldelli

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

 

-Like most of you probably were, I was concerned when I heard Jose Abreu wasn’t going to be available for the series after his heroic dash home to win the game against the Royals last weekend. I assumed that the Sox were going to struggle to score runs in the series because of this. Well, I was 2/3rds right. Game 1 was an insane aberration where everyone who picked up a bat was smoking the ball to all fields. Game 2, the Sox were able to pounce on rookie pitcher Bradley Ober for 4 runs in the first 3 innings. For the remaining 15 the Sox were only able to scratch together 2 runs on small ball by Adam Eaton on Leury Garcia. Going into the series this weekend against the Yankees, they’re gonna need much more than that. Unfortunately they draw Gerrit Cole on Sunday, and he had his one stinker of the year this last week against the Rangers.

-Yoan Moncada went 4-8 with 4 walks in the series. He currently has one of the hardest hit line drive rates in the league and is seeing the ball better than he has in probably 2 years. The dingers aren’t there yet, but when you get on base at the clip that he does and hit the ball as hard as he does you’re more than willing to take the production while you wait for the ball to clear the fence.

-Lance Lynn needed 109 pitches to get through 6 innings on Tuesday night, though he had to throw about 20 extra pitches thanks to an Andrew Vaughn error and a no-challenge by Tony LaRussa in the 2nd inning. More of note was the fact that he only had 2 strikeouts on the evening, which is something that bears watching against a better hitting team.

-Lucas Giolito, welcome back! While his first inning was causing flashbacks to the Boston start, he settled down nicely thereafter en route to 8 innings of work with 11 Ks. Really the only mistake was the 4 seam fastball that caught too much of the zone for Nelson Cruz (and lets be fair, that happens to a LOT of pitchers against Cruz), otherwise a return to form for our ace.

-At this point we can agree that Dallas Keuchel is now the 5th starter on this team, as even Dylan Cease has gone past him performance-wise. Which is absolutely a good thing, as having a guy who can pretty much guarantee you 6+ innings in most starts pitching out of the 5-spot is the kind of depth that postseason teams have. Plus when you consider you’ve got Michael Kopech waiting in the wings to pick up the slack…wow.

-I think it’s safe to say that when people look back and wonder when JA Happ’s career ended you could point to the moment Nick Madrigal’s line drive cleared the wall in left at Target Field. He may pitch for another year or two, but just look at him. That’s the face of a man who watched his career get torpedoed by a ball that never got higher than 9 feet off the ground.

-I hope Yermin hits 60 more home runs this season, all off 3-0 pitches.

-Next up is a weekend series against the Evil Empire, which will be without Mike “Giancarlo” Stanton for the duration. Though they still have Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu and the corpse of Brett Gardner to make up the difference. As mentioned above, the Sox hitters will also see Gerrit Cole, most likely on Saturday or Sunday depending on how Aaron Boone wants to set his rotation. The return of Jose Abreu would be quite the boon for the Sox offense, which has been getting by with the trio of Eaton/Hamilton/Garcia in the OF. It’s been OK thus far, but we’re all expecting the bottom to drop out at some point. Hoping Rick Hahn has been working the phones, as reinforcements will be needed before too long (AKA a month ago).

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

White Sox 6 – Mariners 0

White Sox 10 – Mariners 4

White Sox 4 – Mariners 8

 

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

VS

Probable Starters

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)

Sunday: TBD vs. Carlos Rodon (1-0, 0.00 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