Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 5 – Tigers 4

Game 2: White Sox 15 – Tigers 2

Game 3: White Sox 4 – Tigers 1

 

At this point, there’s not much that can be said about this Sox team when they’re taking on a sub-.500 squad other than that they’re completely merciless. Despite losing yet ANOTHER key piece of the rebuild to an exploded hamstring with Nicky 2-Strikes going down in the previous series, the Sox didn’t miss a beat this weekend in Detroit. Even Friday night where it looked like the bullpen was going to implode after an excellent start by Lucas Giolito, the offense was there to pick up the slack in extra innings.

In the second game, the Sox scored some runs, and then some more, and even more after that, raining blows down upon a Tigers team that had clearly hung the “Not Interested” sign in the bullpen window. They became so disinterested, they trotted out two different position players to pitch, which I’m sure breaks some unwritten rule somewhere, but whatever. The most impressive bit about this Sox win was the fact that out of the 15 runs, only 1 came on a dinger.

On Sunday Hard Carl had a shot at his 2nd no hitter of the season, taking it into the 7th inning before finally giving up a double to Eric Haase with 1 out. Even this was not without shenanigans, as Rodon threw a NASTY slider in a 2-2 count to Haase that clearly caught a chunk of the zone but he didn’t get the call from home plate umpire Pat Hoberg (who otherwise had an excellent day behind the plate).

All told, the Sox now sit at a tasty 41-24 record with a hilariously high +106 run differential (!). While everything is not perfect and the schedule takes a decidedly angry turn in the next week it’s hard to be anything but excited about where this team is right now.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

GAME 1

-Let’s get this out of the way at the start: There is absolutely no fucking reason the idiotic umpiring crew should have started the bottom of the 9th inning on Friday night. It was absolutely pouring, and while Liam Hendriks probably didn’t need to flip out the way he did, I don’t blame him in the slightest. I don’t completely blame him for the blown save either, as getting re-pumped up is almost impossible after taking the mound and then having to wind down. Robot Umps ASAP.

-The top 1/3rd of the batting order had a rough night, going a combined 0-11 with 2 walks and one sac fly by Moncada. They were able to get on base a few times via the walk, but none of them came around to score. I don’t hate trying Yermin in the 2 hole, despite the net negative result, trying anything to spark him back up is all right in my book.

-Lucas Giolito had some issues with the long ball again, giving up two solo shots to bring his total over his last 3 starts to 6. When you live in the upper portion of the zone like Lucas does, any mistakes are magnified and usually end up in the cheap seats. Despite that, he’s also undefeated since May 14th, so it’s obviously not the end of the world.

-Adam Engel had another home run? I do declare!

-Garret Crochet had the leash taken off in this one, going 2 whole innings giving up a measly one walk paired with 3 Ks. It’s hard to tell what his future holds, whether it’s in the pen or as a starter, but either way he’s been dominant lately and one of the few trusty weapons out of the pen.

GAME 2

-Dylan Cease is now 8-0 against Detroit in his career, and the 8th win wasn’t ever remotely close. He was staked to a 3 run lead before he even took the mound, and despite making a 2 strike mistake to Harold Castro in the bottom of the inning he never really looked out of sorts en route to 5 strong innings.

-Brian Goodwin, welcome to the White Sox! The free agent acquisition signed by Rick Hahn shortly after all of Luis Robert’s hip muscles went TWANG made his debut in a big way, knocking in 5 of the Sox 15 runs in the first 2 innings with a 2 run double in the first, and a 3 run laser over the RF fence in the 2nd. While this is a nice start, I’m gonna need to see a bit more before I declare the OF issues solved.

-Yermin managed 2 hits and 3 RBI in the game, and while neither of them were nuked off the bat, beggars can’t be choosers at this point. Yermin went from hitting in the 2 hole in game one down to his customary 5 spot. Maybe move him down to 7 next? Whatever it takes.

-Matt Foster contributed 2 innings, and while he walked 2 in this go around he also struck out 3. Baby Steps.

-Beau Burrows puked all over the mound in the 5th inning and no, this is not a metaphor for the Tigers bullpen (though it would absolutely work that way). Feel better, kid.

Game 3

-Hard Carl made his reappearance today, with an absolutely devastating slider and a fastball that was touching 100 mph in the 4th inning. As mentioned above, he carried a No-No into the 7th inning until it was farted away by one bad call behind the plate. All told, he went 7 immensely strong innings, striking out 9 and walking 2. He’ll have his work cut out for him in his next start against the Astros next Friday, but if his slider is working this well it may not make a difference.

-Jose Abreu, after sitting out the offensive explosion on Saturday, came out swinging on Sunday. He went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, and RBI and a run scored. More importantly he looked as locked in as I’ve seen him in some time, as he was all over the off-speed stuff the Tigers tossed his way. The Sox are going to need to lean on their captain even more from here on out, and I’d be more than willing to bet he’ll be up to the challenge.

-Evan Marshall had a return to form in the 8th inning, looking very strong with his change dancing all around the zone. He’s another one the Sox will need here on out, especially with no set return in sight for Michael Kopech.

-Liam Hendriks mowed down the Tigers in the 9th without any difficulty for his 17th save of the season. Not much to say other than “FUUUUUUUUCK” really loudly.

 

Next up is a 3 game set with the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays coming to town. If the rotations hold up, the Sox will be facing the heart of the Ray’s staff starting with the marquee matchup of Tyler Glasnow against Lance Lynn on Monday night. We’ve seen the Sox have no issue beating the dregs of the AL, now they get a chance to show everyone if they truly belong in the elite tier. Two out of three would go a long way towards that, so get it done.

Let’s Go Sox!

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 3 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Twins 8 – White Sox 13

Game 3: Twins 2 – White Sox 4

 

What a wonderful start to the season series against the evil that is the Minnesota Twins. On top of that, the Sox have now swept back to back division opponents and won 8 of their last 10 games in all. Despite that run, Cleveland has gone 9-1 in that same span and is still hanging around one game behind the Sox at the top of the AL Central list. On the flip side is the Twins now sit at the bottom of Shit Mountain, 10 games behind the Sox tied with the lowly Tigers.

The Sox starting pitching has been carrying the load the last few weeks as the offense begins to heat up, so it was nice to see the bats pick up the pitching when Cease and Keuchel had a bit of a stumble in the first two games of the series. The 25 runs the Sox put up boosted their run differential up to +66, good for 1st in the entire American League, with the next closest team being Houston at +45. The numbers look even more impressive when you realize that the Sox are second to last in home runs. So all these runs they’re banging out are being done against the league trend of the Three True Outcomes™ style of offense. Whether this is an adjustment to the deadened balls being trotted out, or a move to a different style of hitting with Luis Robert and Eloy on the shelf I don’t know, but it kicks all kinds of ass.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-Pitchers of the central beware, Jose Abreu is heating up. He had a killer series, going 5-11 with 5 RBI and his first triple in 2 years. He also added a dinger on Wednesday night, making that 3 in his last 6 games. You love to see it.

-We finally had the Billy Hamilton Game on Wednesday, as he went 4-4 with his first extra base hit when he legged out a triple and nearly caught Andrew Vaughn who went 1st to home and looked like I do after playing 30 minutes of tennis. While I don’t expect to see this again, any offense Hamilton generates is a complete bonus and should be treated as such. Good for him, as he’s a pretty easy guy to like.

-Lance Lynn only went 5 innings Thursday and had to go get his hand x-rayed after a comebacker smacked into it. The x-rays were negative and he shouldn’t miss a turn in the rotation.

-Yermin is only batting .386 now, so I think we can all agree he’s a bust.

-Grandal had a very Grandal series, walking 3 times and going 2-7 with a mammoth 3 run shot in game 1. His OPS now stands at .717 with a batting average of .130 which is fucking wild.

-Ole Googly Eyed Andrew Vaughn smoked his career first home run in game 2. He’s now slashing .263/.380/.775 which is MORE than acceptable for a rookie in his first go round in the league. Especially one who thought he was probably going to be DH’ing most of the time, not filling in for Eloy in LF.

-Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel labored through their respective starts, though I will say that the Twins are one of the more patient teams in the league, and they forced the two of them in the zone more often than not. Keuchel in particular (outside of his start against the Reds) has looked very hittable at times. Something to keep an eye on.

-Next up is another 4 games against the tailspinning Royals, who have now lost 11 in a row after getting broomed by the Tigers this week. Kopech will be taking another turn tonight in the second game of the double header. 7 is better than 6 boys, keep it up!

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

 

Everything Else

We’ve reached the end of the position player portion of these previews and let me thank you, dear reader, for coming this far. The following list will include a few guys that might never see an at bat with the big club, but dang it the MLB added an extra roster spot and I wanna write about THE YERMINATOR. The 2020 team may finally resemble an actual Major League Baseball™ club, which means that guys like Adam Engel and Danny Mendick won’t need to try and make you stop hating them because they were forced into more playing time than they should’ve ever had. No, we finally get to see them in roles that they’re suited for, supplementing the roster, playing every few days and dare I say…maybe excelling at it???

Adam Engel

2019 Stats

.242/.304/.383, 6 HR 26 RBI 26 R

.296 wOBA 84 wRC+, 0.8 WAR +2 DRS 

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Engel found his way into 89 contests last year and posted a mildly respectable 84 wRC+ in his 248 part-time at bats. He found himself part of a five-six headed OF monster as the Sox churned through Him, Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell to fill space and eat time until they would employ real MLB players in their positions with Engel pacing the field (not that there was much of a bar). His real value was realized, as always, in the field where he was one of few Sox to actually SAVE runs in 2019.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: So as I stated above, Engel should finally be in the role that best suits him – fourth outfielder. His defense in the OF is still the best on the team until Luis Robert proves it otherwise. He should not eclipse 75 at bats. He will see plenty of time as the late inning replacement for one of the corners, and for my money it’s Nomar Mazara being lifted. Maybe he’ll get some pinch running chances too and can boost his lackluster three SB from 2019. The only way Engel hurts the team is if he’s forced into another 250+ ABs somehow, and with Garcia the real super utility on the team I don’t see how that’s possible.

Danny Mendick

2019 Stats (AAA)

.279/.368/.444, 17 HR 64 RBI 75 R

.355 wOBA 109 wRC+, 0.2 WAR

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Mendick put together a very fine season at Charlotte, earning himself a September call up and 40 plate appearances with the big club. The audition was successful enough to keep him on the 40-man and in the conversation for a bench spot, something that became a near lock when the team decided to non-tender all-around great human/fan and clubhouse favorite Yolmer Sanchez. Danny showed a keen batting eye, with a very respectable 66:96 K:BB ratio while displaying decent power in a .166 ISO. He’s also versatile in the field, capable of manning any INF position and doing it well (+1 DRS combined at 2B/SS/3B).

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Mendick is in a slightly different position than Engel in that he could see more playing time early, especially if the highly touted Nick Madrigal struggles to open the year. The way this Spring is going, no one has staked their claim on the 2B job and that means Mads is likely ticketed for Charlotte until May. Mendick will see more opportunities early since his main competition at 2B is Leury Garcia, and he’ll be spelling Robert/Mazara more than I think many want to believe. Mendick could keep Madrigal down for longer than anticipated with a hot start and some of that power he displayed in 2019; he could also see himself demoted to spelling Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson very infrequently if he’s terrible and Madrigal earns a promotion sooner than anticipated or Leury take the gig in full.

Yermin Mercedes

2019 Stats (AAA)

.317/.388/.581

23 HR 80 RBI 54 R, 153(!!!) wRC+

LAST WEEK ON NITRO: The Yerminator burst into Sox fans hearts with his towering moon shots straight out of BB&T Stadium in Charlotte. Mercedes has worked his way from the AAA phase of the 2017 Rule 5 draft into the conversation for a roster spot in Chicago via his ability to absolutely destroy pitches, something he’s never really struggled to do. The issue is that our pal Yermin here hasn’t really had a position to call home on the diamond, though Rick Hahn and Co. will tell you he’s REALLY worked on his receiving and if a totally capable backstop. Yermin himself would tell you he can handle 3B, too, but Yoan needn’t break out a different glove. If Yermin did enough in 2019 to secure a roster spot it’s to pinch hit and be the emergency catcher.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Yermin finds glory in 2020 simply by making this team. Zack Collins is what he is and that isn’t changing IMO, but he’s wasted without regular playing time so he’s headed to Charlotte leaving Mercedes in pole position for the newly minted 26th spot. Say he clubs 8-10 dingers in 70ish at bats, a few of which come as walk offs and Yermin reaches Sox legend status. I don’t really see a scenario in which this goes south; he’s either good enough to make the team or he’s back putting on a show for the Knights faithful in AAA.

Nicky Delmonico

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LAST WEEK ON NITRO: Ol’ Nicky D would like for you to believe 2019 did not happen. He labored through an atrocious stretch to open the year in Chicago that lasted just 21 games, got demoted to Charlotte for another 17 forgettable contests and finally called mercy and had shoulder surgery before being released in June. The Sox brought their familiar face back on a minor league deal in December and have seen him work hard in Spring to throw his hat in the ring for that final 26th man spot.

TOO SWEET (WHOOP)/YOU FUCKED UP!: Keeping with the theme here, simply finding his way onto the MLB roster would be the top of the mountain for Delmonico. Returning to the MLB after the disastrous year and a half he spent with the Sox that preceded this Spring is enough, and he’d simply be asked to spell an OF here or there, maybe pinch hit a time or two. You fucked up if you’re actively rooting against him for some reason. Get a life.

PALKAMANIA

LOL, if Palka is somehow on this team, we’re all gonna be so fucking sad at what became of the 202o season that I’m not even going to entertain the idea of writing about it. He’ll always have #fromthe108 from 2018, I guess.

Prediction: Mengel will make up the main bench spots behind James McCann and Leury and I’m going to go ahead and anoint Yermin Mercedes the first ever White Sox 26th man. He can catch in a pinch, he can flat out hit, and he’s an absolute unit. TOUCH ‘EM ALL, YERMINATOR!

(Feature Photo credit to @zsoxwood)

Baseball

Jose Abreu and the White Sox did what we all thought they were going to do and agreed to a multi-year contract in lieu of the qualifying offer the Cuban first baseman accepted just over a week ago. With his countryman Yasmani Grandal now in the fold too, Abreu’s signing makes things more complicated than the QO reality of a few days ago.

The three-year, $50M pact was met with a mostly collective “sure. cool. whatever.” Not everyone was willing to congratulate Abreu and look ahead in what’s become a pretty active early off-season for the Sox, though. A vocal sect of media and fans are a bit sour on going to a three-year commitment with the streaky 32 year-old slugger when the team had him for one year, seemingly the preferred position from an analytical standpoint.

But this deal isn’t really about analytics, and if you can’t see the intangibles at play you’re really not even trying. Abreu and Jerry Reinsdorf apparently have a pretty great relationship, because his new paper represents the same kind of loyalty that Jerry shows his front office. Abreu has done a lot to keep the Sox relevant through the failed runs earlier in the decade and the subsequent tear down and rebuild they find themselves in at the end of it. Declining wRC+ be damned, Jerry decided he was going to welcome Jose into the family.

So is this going to be the regret that the un-silent minority thinks it is? Are the leadership and RBI binges, Cuban mentor/ambassador qualities all enough to justify the term/dollars? Is it really even that much in dollars? What does it mean for the future at first base and DH, specifically Andrew Vaughn?

First, the doom-and-gloom outlook. Yes, Abreu hasn’t been the same hitter the last two years that he was in his first four stateside. He dealt with many a nagging injury in 2018, but his 116 wRC+ across 2018-19 is more than 20 points worse than his 2014-17 average of 139. Sure, a continued decline is a possibility for a slugger on the fringes of his prime. But the underlying numbers say his 2019 wasn’t as bad as the surface suggests (highest hard-hit rate in his career, 2nd highest barrel rate) and FanGraphs Steamer projections have him at 32/89/.332 for 2020. Another addition to the lineup via RF could help improve/protect Abreu further as he ages.

The 3/$50M price looks a bit rough, again, on the surface, but I don’t need to delve further into how Abreu is the heart of this team, looked up to by many of the young players set to take the Sox to the next level. Eloy said he’s like a father. Yeah, an $18M cheerleader doesn’t look great in 2022, but the dollars here are all more complicated than they appear as well. Abreu will collect on that $50M, but he won’t see the last payment of it until 2026 with $4M in deferred money. Add to that a $5M signing bonus, and the deal is actually $11M/’20, $16M/’21, $14M/’18 for 3/$41. This could’ve definitely been worse in terms of loyalty deals, and as stated Abreu might justify this with his bat regardless.

So where does that bat fit across these next three seasons? This is where it gets interesting. The Sox don’t lack for players that will push Abreu through this deal, especially with Grandal onboard through ’23. Abreu, Grandal, James McCann, Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes look like they’re set to create a timeshare between 1B/DH/C in 2020. 2019 third overall pick Andrew Vaughn looks set to push for work with the big club by the end of 2020 but you can argue they’ve got plenty of cover to keep him in minors regardless, barring injury to at least two of those five; and even that would have to coincide with Vaughn forcing the issue in a major way with his bat. Like with Eloy, Robert, and Nick Madrigal the Sox have shown they’re willing to let the kids marinate. Maybe it’s different if they’re pushing for the playoffs, but that’s a bridge to be crossed when it approaches.

So what of the two years beyond next season? Well, while everyone wants Vaughn, or even Gavin Sheets for that matter, to force the issue we all know nothing is certain. So Vaughn can’t just be expected to be mashing in the MLB by the end of 2020. Given the track record, there are many worse options than having Abreu, with the aforementioned contingent, making up the playing time at first base. This gets real muddy if Eloy can’t stay in the field, but with reports that he’s headed to winterball this week to specifically work on his defense (“his goal is to win a Gold Glove in the MLB” says Hector Gomez) he appears seriously committed to improving that aspect of his game and staying in Left.

Basically, you can’t sort out how to deal with Abreu and his time at 1B/DH and who else is pushing for those ABs until they get there. And the Sox absolutely need him in 2020 at the very least, and at first for the most part. Easing him into more DH time helps the team solve its problems there as well, possibly to the point of moving him there full time by the end of this deal. 30 HR and a 116 wRC+ from the DH position in ’21-22 would be the best DH season Sox fans have seen in…half a decade? longer?

Rick Hahn has also been a pretty complimentary of Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes since the end of the season, going as far as to protect former AAA Rule 5 draftee Mercedes with a 40-man spot after a strong offensive season in Charlotte’s bandbox of a stadium. Collins very well could find himself in another organization if the right(fielder) fit is available via trade. I’d think they look to dangle guys like Collins, Sheets, Blake Rutherford, players they know have tough paths to real roles with this team that could help improve them elsewhere. If you’re banking of using Abreu as a bridge to Vaughn, six years of control on Collins might be better used by another team, but 2020 will also see the addition of a 26th roster spot – conceivably making room for everyone for a year, at least (whether that space is best used for a 1B/DH/C collective is probably a whole other post).

If you want to get crazy maybe Vaughn himself becomes expendable for a Mookie Betts deal, but I’d sooner expect the Bears to win the Super Bowl this season. Vaughn is a part of the plan moving forward, Abreu deal or not. Collins is the guy who just had his path to more at bats immediately affected by the signings last week. Maybe Abreu invited him to the celebration in Miami before he changes teams. It’s the least he could do for making him expendable.