Baseball

VS sea captain

 

Records: Sox 64-82  Mariners: 60-86

Game Times: Fri 9:10/Sat 8:10/Sun 3:10

TV: Fri/Sun WGN  Saturday NBCSN

Tis No Man, Tis A Remorseless Eating Machine: Lookout Landing

It’s always fun at the end of a season to have two rebuilding teams throwing whatever they can at each other. This matchup between the Sox and the Mariners promises to be no different, as they’re both basically in the same spot as each other in their rebuild. The both made big splashy moves in their off-seasons for the past few years, and now they’re both just sitting in front of the stove, waiting for the water to boil.

While the White Sox water may be bubbling more than the Mariners right now, it’s not by much. The M’s have a pretty interesting group of position players ready to take the next step in their major league careers, mixed in with some aging veterans who have been providing decent pop for the team. The Mariners as a whole are a better hitting team than the White Sox so far in the season, with their big bats being lead by Kyle “Not Cory” Seager and Dan “West Coast Palka” Vogelbach.

Seager missed the first 3 months of the season with a pretty nasty ligament tear in his hand. Before that he scuffled through the 2018 season, enduring his worst stretch of his career that saw him slash .221/.273/.400 and post an 83 WRC+, down almost 50 points from 2016-2017 seasons. He’s back at it this year however, as he has a .248/.331/.503 line thus far in 90 games, with 22 home runs. He’s been on a tear since the all star break, having hit 14 of those 22 home runs in the months of August and September. His .256 BABIP suggests that it’s pretty real, and actually he’s getting some bad batted ball luck in there as well.

The issue for the Mariners is not on the offensive side, as it’s their pitching that has let them down thus far in the season. They’re second worst in the AL, and third from the bottom of the league behind the BP machines that are the Marlins and the Orioles. Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi has not had the effect the Mariners were hoping for, as he’s gotten routinely shelled with a 5.24 ERA and 1.48 WHIP so far on the season.

Softball pitcher Mike Leake is gone, as he got shipped to ‘Zona at the deadline. The ghost of King Felix is here, who just returned from his 33rd trip to the IL since 2017 related to his shoulder which is “fine” and “structurally sound” and not at all “made from paper mache and balsa wood.” I joke here, but I actually love King Felix and were he on any other team than the Mariners would’ve had a pretty decent shot at being a Hall of Fame pitcher. Sam had a pretty great take a few weeks ago when they played the Cubs, check it out here. He’s also responsible for one of my favorite GIFs of all time, which is from last season when he struck out Adrian Beltre (who is also a national treasure) with a nasty change that resulted in a hideous swing, which Felix saw and prompted this reaction:

The only highlight for the M’s pitching staff is ace Marco Gonzalez, who came over from the Cardinals and almost immediately became the pitcher St. Louis had drafted him to be. Thankfully the Sox will miss him this time through the rotation. They will see Justus Sheffield (son of Gary) on Sunday, the prized rookie that came over from the Yankees in the Edwin Encarnacion trade. Sheffield was up earlier in the year and got knocked around pretty good. He got called back up a few weeks ago and has fared a bit better since then but still has a 4.43 ERA.

For the Pale Hose, the story remains the same. The Bullpen needs to be ready tonight, as they trot Dylan Covey out again to get decimated. Perhaps this time he makes it out of the 3rd inning, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Dylan Cease gets a chance to work on his fastball location again, and perhaps keep the walks down under 3. Nova goes again on Sunday. If the Sox pitching can keep the M’s off the board, the bats should have a good chance at feasting on sub-par Mariner’s pitching.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: Mariners 7-1, White Sox 2-3

DATES AND TIMES: Friday 1:10, Saturday 1:10, Sunday 1:10

TV: NBCSN Chicago Friday, WGN Saturday and Sunday

WHY IS IT ALWAYS RAINING?: Lookout Landing

PROBABLE STARTERS

Yusei Kikuchi vs. Reynaldo Lopez

Mike Leake vs. Lucas Giolito

Wade LeBlanc vs. Ivan Nova

Probable Mariners Lineup

1. Mallex Smith (L) CF
2. Mitch Haniger (R) RF
3. Domingo Santana (R) LF
4. Jay Bruce (L) 1B
5. Omar Narvaez (L) C
6. Tim Beckham (R) SS
7. Ryon Healy (R) 3B
9. Dee Gordon (L) 2B
Probable White Sox Lineup
1. Leury Garcia (S) CF
2. Yoan Moncada (S) 3B
3. Jose Abreu (R) 1B/DH
4. Yonder Alonso (L) DH/1B
5. Eloy Jimenez (R) LF
6. Daniel Palka (L) RF
7. Tim Anderson (R) SS
8. James McCann (R) C
9. Yolmer Sanchez (S) 2B
For the past severeal years, it had started to seem like in the modern age of baseball, there are only two types of teams: teams that were trying to win, and teams that were trying to lose. The Moneyball era went to such an extreme so quickly that the way teams approached roster construction basically meant either you were going for it or you were intentionally tanking. The White Sox were, for a few years, in the former, constantly trying to win but always failing miserably, until they just decided to embrace what they were and start losing on purpose, but with purpose.
Over the offseason, the Mariners started to look like they were falling into the latter category, as they traded a few of their key players from 2018 away for younger, more controllable players or prospects. They started tearing down what looked like a damn-near elite bullpen by sending Alex Colome to – hey, us!, for Omar Narvaez, who was the Hawks best-hitting catcher from last year but a total butcher behind the plate. Then they traded Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets for top prospect Jared Kelenic.
However, what started to look like a rebuild quickly became more of a re-tool, as they traded Ben Gamel to Milwauke for Domingo Santana, because if there are two things the Brewers definitely needed, it’s left handed hitters and outfielders. That was less a move for the future and more a move to address something they needed now. Then they went out and signed Yusei Kikuchi, who was the best pitcher left in Japan after Shohei Ohtani came stateside, to a really creative contract that will keep him in Seattle for either three, four, or seven years, with both sides having options. Given that Kikuchi is 27, this was another move to build for now.
So in reality, what the Mariners did was build a team that could compete this year, but just for significantly less money. Clearing out the Cano contract may have cost them 2018’s best reliever in baseball, but so far the results have been fine. They took Oakland to task in the opening series in Japan back on March 20-21, and then smacked the shit out of the ball against what’s supposed to be a dominant Red Sox rotation before taking a two-game sweep against the Angels. They weren’t exactly designed to win in the same way as Boston or Houston, but they weren’t designed to lose either.
The thing that is so frustrating about watching how the Mariners went about this rebuild/re-tool movement this offseason was that the White Sox absolutely had the ability to do the same shit. Sure they missed on Machado, but had they been willing to open the checkbook up a bit and made moves like adding Santana and Kikuchi, or even some smaller moves like the Phillies made pre-Bryce Harper, they could’ve won this terrible AL Central. Seriously, looking at that Seattle roster, there’s almost no way they couldn’t win 95 games against this division. Instead, the Sox decided that they wanted to be even cheaper than Seattle and still not be good. Hooray!
For this weekend, at least, we just need to pray their bats cool off a bit and their pitching doesn’t stop what Yoan Moncada is doing. Simple!