Coming through in the clutch: So far, Nomar Mazara’s come-from-behind three-run homer is the biggest White Sox hit in the young season. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)
Tuesday evening’s game in Cleveland came down to the wire, but the Good Guys came out on top in a 5-4 thriller.
Yasmani Grandal walked in the second inning, and he later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Nomar Mazara (much more on him later). Grandal is off to a slow start offensively (.158/.238/.211), but it is still very early. While Grandal went hitless, he went on to draw another walk later on to reach base safely twice in four plate appearances.
Mazara’s sacrifice fly put the White Sox on the board with a 1-0 lead, and the score remained the same until the top of the fifth. That was when leadoff hitter Tim Anderson smashed a homer off Cleveland’s rookie southpaw Scott Moss. Moss was excellent in this game, only allowing those two runs (both earned) on three hits in eight innings, striking out eight. Moss appears very much ready for the show, but Anderson took advantage of one of his few mistakes and drove it out for his first homer.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, starter Gio González, making his White Sox debut (he finally pitched for the White Sox!), was on top of his game. González lasted five and two-thirds innings, which isn’t outstanding by any means, but he kept Cleveland off the board. González struck out four Cleveland hitters, walked three, and he allowed four hits. Reliever Steve Cishek had another great performance, retiring all four batters he faced, striking out one of them. Cishek, who recently came over from the other side of Chicago, has now thrown three and two-thirds scoreless innings for the White Sox, and his WHIP is an excellent 0.273.
Offense came at a premium in this matchup, so the score remained 2-0 until the bottom of the eighth, when the wheels fell off. Alex Colomé took over on the mound for Cishek, and he had a nightmarish evening. Of the five batters Colomé faced, three of them went yard. Francisco Lindor led off the inning with a homer, his third of the year. Two batters later, Franmil Reyes launched his fourth dinger, and two batters after Reyes, Domingo Santana launched his second. Then, with a 3-2 deficit, the bases empty, and two outs, Rick Rentería pulled Colomé for Evan Marshall. Carlos Santana reached on an error, and he came around to score an unearned run when Jordan Luplow drove him in with a double.
All of a sudden, entering the ninth, the White Sox trailed by a score of 4-2, and they desperately needed baserunners. The White Sox had struggled to get baserunners all evening. However, they managed to get on base when they needed to. With two on and one out, Nomar Mazara stepped up to the plate against Nick Wittgren. Wittgren missed his spot, but Mazara did not miss the ball. Mazara launched his second home run of the season, and this one silenced the Cleveland crowd.
In the blink of an eye, the White Sox were back on top, with a 5-4 lead. The White Sox did not tack on any insurance runs, so the bottom of the ninth was stressful. Rentería turned to Aaron Bummer, who the White Sox recently gave a contract extension to. Uncharacteristically, Bummer faced all sorts of problems finding the strike zone, walking two of the three batters he faced. Bummer also allowed a single, though he did record an out when Adam Engel gunned down Óscar Mercado trying to advance to third on said single. When Bummer departed, there were runners on first and second, one out, and the White Sox were clinging to a 5-4 lead.
In stepped Jace Fry, perhaps the best story from the 2018 season, in a huge spot. The batter was Franmil Reyes, who had just homered the previous inning. On the second pitch, Reyes beat a curveball (this is an educated guess; Baseball-Reference does not disclose pitch types) into the ground, and the White Sox turned a double play to end the threat and seal a thrilling victory.
And so, despite only getting five hits, the White Sox got a hard-earned victory at Progressive Field. After tonight’s victory, the White Sox’s record sits at 3-2, which is now the same as Cleveland’s record. The White Sox will wrap up this three-game in Cleveland tomorrow, and they will look to complete a sweep. Let’s get it done, but first, let’s take a look at a couple of trivia questions related to tonight:
In this simulation, Nomar Mazara just became the third member of the White Sox to hit his second home run. Last season, who were the first three White Sox players to reach two homers?
The White Sox drafted Jace Fry, who earned his first save since August 29, 2018, out of the same school as Nick Madrigal. Which school is this?
Eighth spot to lose: Improbably, a combination of factors give Carson Fulmer the inside track on the final White Sox bullpen spot. (@Carson_Fulmer)
For some pitchers, a relief role is the path to glory and riches. For others, it’s a last stand, a last-ditch attempt to cling to the majors. The Chicago White Sox feature both extremes in their Cactus League bullpen at present, and all manner of pitchers in-between.
The former was taken care of this past weekend. Aaron Bummer’s job security wasn’t in question this spring, but the organization assured so in a big way after announcing a long-term pact with the lefty reliever on Saturday.
The Chicago White Sox have agreed to terms on a five-year, $16-million contract with left-handed pitcher Aaron Bummer, plus two club options that could extend the deal through the 2026 season. MORE:
The White Sox are loathe to go through the arbitration process with their players, but this contract is a big win for the team beyond dodging that process with Bummer. The 26-year-old was selected in the 19th round of the 2014 draft out of Nebraska and underwent Tommy John surgery as a minor leaguer. After posting a 2.13 ERA with a 72% ground ball rate in 67 ⅔ innings in 2019, boasting a 1.3 fWAR powered by an elite sinker, Bummer has arrived as a fixture in the Pale Hose bullpen going forward.
Bullpens are fickle, and deals like this one are uncommon as a result. But the deal guarantees a payout of only $16 million, and the decision-makers likely see that as a pittance in the face of four years of arbitration under super two status for a pitcher like Bummer, who’s seen as a major spoke in the wheel. Regression could obviously occur, but Bummer’s current status and future promise is a massive scouting win for the organization, which should rightfully celebrate his arrival as a dependable big league reliever.
Judgment Day: Carson Fulmer
Carson Fulmer was the third-ranked player in the 2015 draft according to MLB Pipeline. In Doug Laumann’s final year at the helm, the White Sox used the eighth overall pick in an otherwise poor class on the righthander from Vanderbilt. Many observers praised the organization for selecting another quick-moving pitcher and nabbing the “best college starter” in the class.
Pipeline lauded Fulmer for his competitiveness and placed a 70-grade on his fastball with a 60-grade curveball. The 6´0´´ righty threw his fastball in the 93-97 mph range and had been named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. Fulmer displayed an electric arm, with a power breaking ball. Carson lacked prototypical size and possessed a tough-to-repeat, highly unorthodox delivery. Many evaluators questioned his command and control, wondering if he would end up in the bullpen down the road.
Fulmer didn’t throw enough strikes in college, and he hasn’t thrown enough strikes as a professional, either. Now hanging onto a roster spot tenuously, at risk of changing organizations, Fulmer’s future hinges on his ability to throw strikes this spring. The 26-year-old posted a 6.26 ERA in 27 big league innings last year, and that was after reworking his delivery in the offseason. He did average 13.5 K/9 with the Charlotte Knights with a 3.24 FIP — but also walked more than five hitters per nine as well.
Fulmer is the likely favorite to earn the eighth and final spot in the White Sox’s bullpen this spring. He’s out of options, and while losing him wouldn’t seem drastic, his draft status likely affords him one last shot in Chicago. He had a horrendous debut (two walks, two Ks, HBP, getting yanked mid-inning) in Sunday’s White Sox spring training opener, but Cactus League stats are a poor way to determine roster decisions; paying attention to how Fulmer looks and feels may end up being more appropriate. Fulmer’s cloudy future should be an interesting storyline to monitor, though, on a pitching staff lacking drama.
With a 26-man roster taking effect in 2020, the White Sox will begin the season with eight relievers. Roster churn will bring a lot of new faces through Chicago during the course of the years, but the group likely to open the season won’t feature many surprises. The southpaw-hungry pen gives 26-year-old Jace Fry an easy spot, along with Bummer. Fry is a former third-rounder looking to bounce back in 2020, and controlling his walks will play a significant part in that quest.
Alex Colomé and Kelvin Herrera are back for another spin at the back end of the 2020 bullpen. They are both slated to make real money this year and will likely see high-leverage innings early in the season. Colomé is looking to keep thwarting his ugly peripherals, while Herrera just needs to remain healthy. Steve Cishek was signed as a free agent this offseason, and he should serve as quite an insurance policy for Rick Renteria.
Evan Marshall and Jimmy Cordero will likely receive spots as well. Marshall threw 50 ⅓ innings in 2019 and posted a 2.49 ERA. His walk rate increased, but he didn’t allow homers and kept the ball on the ground for the most part. The organization will pay the 29-year-old $1.1 million in 2020. Cordero was claimed off of waivers during the 2019 campaign and threw 37 ⅓ innings for the White Sox in 2019. The 6´4´´, 220-pounder throws very hard but doesn’t strike out many hitters. The sleeveless man posted a 2.89 ERA and is also out of minor league options, giving him an edge for the big league roster.
Competition at camp
The White Sox released an extensive list of non-roster invites to spring training that included veteran journeymen along with pitching prospects from their own system. Zack Burdi, Matt Foster, Ian Hamilton and José Ruiz are members of the 40-man roster and the likeliest competition for the final spot on the big league roster. Ruiz has big-time power stuff, and threw 40 innings in Chicago in 2019. He’s not the front-runner for a spot breaking camp, but he’s definitely an option. The 25-year-old posted a 5.36 ERA in the majors.
Burdi was a first round pick in 2016 and is looking to finally crack into the bigs. The fireballer is healthy for the first time in awhile and could join the White Sox at some point during the 2020 season. Hamilton looked like a serious option at this time last year, but battled a facial fracture and injuries sustained in a car collision in 2019. Foster was a 20th round pick in 2016 and was added to the 40-man this offseason after posting a 3.76 ERA in Charlotte last year.
Kodi Medeiros, Drew Anderson, Bryan Mitchell, Jacob Lindgren, Caleb Frare, Brady Lail and Tayron Guerrero are some other arms who have an outside shot at a roster spot. Southpaws Medeiros, Lindgren and Frare have the benefit of being lefties, in somewhat high demand in the White Sox system. Mitchell, Anderson and Lail all have big league experience, and while they are more likely to pitch for the Knights than the White Sox, they still qualify as options. Guerrero throws extremely hard, but his peripherals leave much to be desired and is no longer a member of the 40-man.
Fulmer has the inside track at a roster spot due to his draft pedigree and option status, but he’s far from a lock. An outside addition via trade or waiver claim should also be considered a possibility in filling that final spot. The White Sox have added non-roster players to the roster prior to Opening Day in the past, and while it could happen again, its unlikely due to the names currently in the mix.
Fulmer’s grip on the final spot is shaky, and there’s a solid chance that his next big league game will be thrown in a different uniform. The ideal situation for the franchise would be someone like Hamilton or Burdi taking the reins and claiming a major league spot.
Who will be the eighth member of the White Sox’s bullpen to start the year? Internally, Ruiz appears to have the best shot at filling that role. From outside the organization, it’s anyone’s guess. The front office has an entire month to sort it out, and this whole exercise may seem futile once we get to March 26.
The biggest surprise would be to have a spring devoid of bullpen surprises.
Top target: Will Harris is on the short list for several teams, as a veteran, trusted bullpen hand. (@Astros)
Ken Williams and Rick Hahn have been lauded of late for their successful offseason shopping spree in an attempt to turn the Chicago White Sox into a contender in 2020. They’ve accomplished their stated goals in acquiring two starting pitchers, a designated hitter, help in right field and one of the best catchers in baseball.
While there’s been some chatter about the need to further upgrade their outfield mix, it seems as if the bullpen might be the next area of focus.
Wh Sox interest has pivoted to the bullpen and backup utility infielder . Chicago need two pen arms + a player who can handle SS-2B and 3B Leury Garcia is one .Sox would like a primary inf specialist. Not in on Puig or Castellanos .
The best remaining relief option on the free agent market currently is Houston Astros righthander Will Harris. The 35-year-old Harris posted a 1.50 ERA in Houston last year despite a FIP of 3.15. In 60 innings pitched, the 6´4´´, 240-pounder averaged 9.30 K/9 and 2.10 BB/9. Harris is likely looking for a multi-year commitment, and his Baseball Savant page really tells the story of his success.
Harris only falls in the 25th percentile in terms of fastball velocity. He doesn’t throw that hard, but he is impeccable in every other way. His fastball spin rate falls in the 96th percentile in baseball and the curveball spin rate is in the 86th percentile. The righty ranks highly in xWOBA (89th percentile), xSLG (81st percentile) and hard-hit rate (84th percentile). Harris hasn’t been linked to any particular teams yet in free agency.
Steve Cishek is another veteran right hander whose fastball velocity is only in the 18th percentile range. He doesn’t possess a high-octane fastball but he’s in the 77th percentile in fastball spin rate. The 33-year-old sidearmer pitched 64 innings with the Cubs last year and posted a 2.95 ERA. His FIP wasn’t as good (4.54), but he held righties to a .583 OPS on the season. The 6´6´´, 215-pounder averaged just more than 8 K/9 and falls in the 99th percentile in both hard hit rate and exit velocity.
Cishek knows how to get people out, and he’s made a career of doing so. Similarly to Harris, Cishek is likely holding out for a multiyear pact from a club. He hasn’t been linked to any team specifically, but he would fit nicely as a piece in the White Sox’s evolving bullpen.
Hudson was a fifth round pick of the White Sox way back in 2008, and made his major league debut with the club before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The righthander has had an extensive history of arm troubles but is still just 32. The 6´3´´, 225-pounder posted a 2.47 ERA with a FIP of 3.97 last year. He pitched 73 innings with the Blue Jays and Nationals and completed high-leverage stints on a World Series winner. Hudson has some familiarity with catcher Yasmani Grandal from their days in Los Angeles together with the Dodgers.
According to Jon Morosi of the MLB network, the White Sox have shown interest in righthander Craig Stammen. The 35-year-old was a bit overused in the first half of last year, and some of his numbers reflect that. The 6´4´´, 230-pound reliever posted a 3.29 ERA with a 4.12 FIP, but pitched the majority of his games at the arm-friendly PETCO Park in San Diego. He averaged around 8 K/9 and 1.65 BB/9 over 82 innings last season. Stammen has great command, and surrenders lots of soft contact. In 2018, the big righty posted a 2.73 ERA and accumulated 2.2 fWAR in 79 innings.
The White Sox could also look to the trade market to acquire relief help if necessary. Three of the bigger names out there are Ken Giles of the Blue Jays, Mychal Givens of the Orioles and Ian Kennedy of the Royals. But Giles and Kennedy both have just one season of team control remaining — and Kennedy comes with a significant salary cost of $16.5 million.
Kansas City’s closer was superb in relief last season, though. In 63 ⅓ innings, Kennedy posted a 3.41 ERA with a 2.99 FIP. The converted starter has found a role in relief that works for him and while he’s expensive, he could really help a contender. Kennedy also averaged 10.37 K/9 and just 2.42 BB/9 on the season as well.
Giles, on the other hand, should cost a pretty significant prospect return, and it’s unclear whether Toronto is still open to making a deal before the season. The 29-year-old posted a 1.87 ERA with a 2.27 FIP for the Blue Jays last season. The 6´3´´, 210-pound righty averaged a whopping 14 K/9 with 2.89 BB/9 as well. He threw 53 innings and would be a huge upgrade for the White Sox. Givens is in a similar spot on a bad AL East club, but the Orioles would definitely trade him under the right circumstances. The 29-year-old posted a 4.57 ERA with a 3.62 xFIP in 63 innings for the Orioles in 2019. He also averaged 12.3 K/9 on the year and his stuff is still a factor.
The White Sox bullpen fared decently in 2019 and finished the season in the middle of the pack of the American League in most statistical categories. Arb-eligible Alex Colomé and Evan Marshall don’t have their 2020 salary figures yet, but they seem likely to return to the club. They’ll be joined by righthander Kelvin Herrera and southpaws Aaron Bummer and Jace Fry.
Colomé is expected to earn around $10 million in his final season of arbitration. The 30-year-old righty posted a 2.80 ERA last year, but his peripherals weren’t kind and he’s likely in for some regression. Colomé’s strikeout rate was down as he averaged 8.11 K/9 and 3.39 BB/9. In 61 innings, he posted a 4.08 FIP with a 45% ground ball rate, and his stuff deteriorated some over the course of the season; his Baseball Savant page illustrates that some trouble could be on the horizon.
Given his overall performance in 2019 Colomé will return as the closer in 2020, but his numbers indicate that an upgrade might be essential. He finished in the 30th percentile in fastball velocity and 23rd percentile in fastball spin rate. Colomé’s strikeout rate falls in the 45th percentile, while his hard-hit rate was in the 12th percentile range. He still gets outs, but he was also in the 2nd percentile in exit velocity last year — a huge concern going forward.
Under contract for $8.5 million next year is 29-year-old righthander Kelvin Herrera, and he’ll be counted on in some capacity as well. The 5´10´´, 200-pounder struggled last year working his way back from a lower leg injury, posting an ERA of 6.14 with a 4.58 FIP. He did throw 51 ⅓ innings and averaged 9.29 K/9, but also 4.03 BB/9. Herrera has a long track record of success, and was clearly battling last year. He should be better in 2020 based on his late season results, but counting on him as an integral part of the bullpen mix might be foolish.
Former 19th-rounder Aaron Bummer had his breakout campaign in 2019 with the White Sox. The 26-year-old southpaw posted a 2.13 ERA with a 3.41 FIP and compiled 1.3 fWAR on the season. The 6´3´´, 200-pound lefty averaged 8 K/9 while displaying a stellar 72.1% ground ball rate in almost 68 innings pitched. Bummer was very good vs righties last year, but was death on lefthanders (.178/.213/.233).
Jace Fry was a third round pick of the White Sox out of Oregon State in 2016. He’s strictly a reliever now after undergoing two Tommy John surgeries, and he struggled in 2019 after a breakout season the year prior. The 26-year-old has elite spin on his fastball but posted a 4.75 ERA with a 4.41 xFIP in 2019. The southpaw averaged 11.13 K/9 but also 7.04 BB/9 in 55 innings with the Sox last year. Left-handed pitching is an organizational weakness at the moment, and Fry should lock up a spot on the 2020 squad fairly easily.
Evan Marshall was a bit of a revelation last season. The 29-year-old righthander posted just a 4.30 FIP but his statcast data was very positive as well. The 6´2´´, 225-pounder posted a 2.49 ERA and averaged 7.28 K/9 in 2019. Marshall threw 50 ⅔ innings and should be a lock to return once pitchers and catchers report. Marshall is projected to earn just more than $1 million in arbitration. Marshall falls in the 81st percentile in curveball spin, 78th percentile in fastball spin, 90th percentile in exit velocity and 89th percentile in hard-hit rate.
Cordero pitched well last year after being claimed on waivers in June. The 28-year-old righty throws really hard (95th percentile in fastball velocity). The 6´4´´, 222-pounder posted a 2.89 ERA with a 3.69 xFIP in 2019. Cordero was very solid to close out the year and he threw almost 38 innings down the stretch. He has a solid shot to pitch for the 2020 club, but he’s out of options at present.
Another hard thrower and recent addition that is also out of options is former Marlins flamethrower Guerrero. Guerrero was claimed off of waivers earlier this offseason, and he’ll have an opportunity this spring as well. The 28-year-old falls in the 100th percentile in fastball velocity but he posted a 6.26 ERA last year. He was hit hard and often, and averaged 7.04 BB/9 with Miami.
Fulmer was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft. Things haven’t gone well since for the former Commodore. The 26-year-old righthander posted a 6.26 ERA with a 6.29 FIP with the White Sox last year. He averaged 8.23 K/9, but 6.59 BB/9 as well. Carson threw 34 innings with the Charlotte Knights as well and averaged 13.5 K/9, 5.5 BB/9 and a 3.24 FIP. Fulmer’s spin rates are elite (88th percentile in curveball spin and 91st percentile in fastball spin) but his command is too erratic to put them to use consistently. Fulmer is also out of options, and could find himself on another team soon.
Covey, like Fulmer, has gotten lots of chances and the White Sox just can’t decide what role is best for him. He could be outrighted off of the roster once further additions are made and offer depth in Triple-A. Kodi Medeiros is a young lefty who will be given an opportunity in spring training. The first-rounder has failed as a starter, but met some success after transitioning to the bullpen last season.
Ruiz is another young, hard thrower who is short on experience but long on stuff. He was given a pretty decent-sized leash last year and likely gets an opportunity again. Ruiz possesses minor league options and could help to fill out the Knights bullpen to start the season. Foster was protected in advance of December’s Rule 5 draft, and he’ll be in the mix as well. The 24-year-old threw 55 innings for the Knights and posted a 3.76 ERA while averaging more than 10 K/9.
There will be many options for the 2020 Chicago White Sox to use out of the bullpen. Any of Reynaldo López, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodón could pitch some meaningful relief innings at some point, however unlikely that seems. Chances are, the South Side decision makers will make a couple of additions to the bullpen before the start of the season to enhance their chances of holding leads and winning games. Some prospects could shine and force their way into the mix as well.
The higher-leverage options in the bullpen appear to be set until upgrades can be made, possibly not until the summer. The best outcome for this club, though, would be getting serious help from within. Burdi and Hamilton are hard-throwing righties coming back from injuries in 2018. If either pitcher can round themselves into form, they could be mainstays in Chicago for a long time. After them, Tyler Johnson and Codi Heuer are fairly recent draft picks who could be knocking on the door to a bullpen audition as well.
This kicks off a mini-burst of bests and blursts this week at South Side Hit Pen. Today, Lenny G gets things going with his highly-entertaining look at his most and least favorite games of 2019.
Tomorrow, the rest of us take a stab at the best games of the year, and Wednesday presents the saddest chapter of this trilogy, the blurst of the year.
So, before the Hot Stove heats up and spring training looms, let’s join LG as he spins a little yarn about the best and worst blurst of the season!
“He’s your hero tonight … thanks Cubs!”
Oftentimes in sports, whenever a player returns to face an organization that traded him or her, it’s now referred as “[Insert Player’s Name] Revenge Game!”
And it makes sense right? One team, drafting you into their organization, grooming you, pouring millions of dollars into developing you so that one day you’ll bring glory and championships to their city … and then poof, you find out from your agent you’ve been shipped to Pittsburgh or Kansas City or … the South Side of Chicago. I mean, it’s literally a rejection of that player in the purest sense. Despite all that time and effort, they still think someone else is worth more to them than you. So yes, revenge must be a part of it. (To be fair, anybody and everyone seems to get a revenge game moniker nowadays … I mean, Bobby Freaking Portis got one for leading the bum-ass Knicks in a comeback against the Bulls …)
But if there ever was a textbook example of a Revenge Game, June 18, 2019, White Sox at Cubs in Wrigley Field is hands-down the best one I’ve seen in my 35 years on Earth.
But let’s set the scene. I’m not going to recap the trade and all the drama behind his non call-up the year before. All that you need to know was this was the first game that Eloy Jiménez played at Wrigley Field as a professional ballplayer. Now, had he played a few years as a Cub (shudder), then later showed on the White Sox, it probably would not have been as impactful, even if the results were exactly the same.
The game couldn’t have started more ominously for Eloy and the Sox. With the bases loaded and one out, Eloy came to the plate in his first ever at-bat at Wrigley. A grand slam would likely have caused mass suicides in the Cubs front office and the bleachers. But it wasn’t Eloy’s time yet, as the rook hit into an inning-ending double play.
Naturally, Iván Nova, a pitcher who never met a bat he didn’t want to make contact with, grooved the first pitch to Cubs leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarbabyer and gave up a leadoff home run. Ugh.
Fast forward to the ninth inning … you didn’t miss much. The White Sox had tied it in the sixth thanks to 2020 The Show cover boy Javier Baez, with Little Bam Bam’s Homer still the only run for the North Siders.
James McCann led off with a single, and up comes dat boi Eloy. Pedro Strop, the reason Theo decided to throw $45M at the dumpster fire that was Craig Kimbrel, threw a 1-0 fastball in on the hands of Eloy. Hands pulled in, the bat connected with the ball, the sound of the crack of the bat was clear even through the speakers of my television, and … well, let’s run that shit:
Nothing. And I mean nothing, more important happened for the White Sox in 2019 than this moment. Right here. We had instant, indisputable proof that Eloy was and is THE GUY. In a big time moment, in the stadium of the team he originally signed with because he liked their fucking uniform colors, Eloy hit a ball 400-plus feet on a pitch that shattered his bat. Oh, man. I’d have to imagine that’s what sex feels like … (uh … wait … I mean, I know … um …)
Anyway, in the immortal words of Jason Benetti, “Thanks, Cubs!”
“Colomé? More like Colom-F!”
OK, I may not be clever enough to come up with a better punchline, but with plenty of losses to pick from, I’m going with one that, fortunately, occurred at such a late hour most Sox fans would be asleep (I was not one of those fans … I need help). And that game was Sept. 14, 2019, White Sox at Mariners.(Author’s note: I completely forgot I actually did the game recap for this one, as Frasier-themed fan fiction!)
Why this game, you ask? Admittedly, there were worse games, like say. .. the game literally the next day. (But that was claimed by someone else, and you’ll read about it on Wednesday; luckily I didn’t have far to go to find this gem.)
Dylan Cease, for one of the rare occasions in his rookie season, did not immediately put the Sox in a multi-run hole early. Sure, he had his customary wildness, but five innings and one run given up is practically all one could ask of a Sox starter and be satisfied.
On the hill for Seattle was the used husk of Felix Hernandez. In his eventual swan song of a career in Seattle, King Felix had been routinely demolished in many of his starts in 2019. In the start prior against the Astros, he gave up 11 runs in two innings.So, even with the good chance Cease might’ve given up a few runs, surely the Sox would be able to beat up on this paper tiger right?
Noooooooope. Felix squeezed the last remaining drops of the emaciated Cy Young version of himself floating in a vat of green goo underneath Safeco Field T-Mobile Park and dominated the Sox, getting outs like the Felix of old. By game’s end, we were stuck at 1-1 and headed to the bottom of the 10th.
Sox closer Alex Colomé used his Cupid Shuffle of a delivery to rack up an amazingly improbable number of first half saves despite having the same strikeout ability as a one-armed blind man with vertigo. As the BABIP gods finally woke from their slumber, second half Colomé started to get hit a bit more than normal and his effectiveness ultimately faded down the stretch.
Two outs into the 10th, and up came Alex’s trade counterpart, the Narv Dog, Omar Narváez. A decent hitter with the Sox on a team-friendly contract, he found that life on the West Coast does wonders to your skill set (hello, Marcus Semien) and was somehow hitting bombs all over Puget Sound. So what would happen in this rare event involving a pitcher and catcher, traded for the other? Game on the line … (ummm) … facing the team that gave up on him … (oh no) … and one run wins the …
ITS THE SUPER-SECRET OMAR NARVÁEZ REVENGE GAME!!!!
Narvy laid into an 0-1 pitch from Colomé and sent it deep into right field. Daniel Palka (God bless that sweet boy, he just tries so hard …) went back to the wall but realized he’s not getting this one as it approaches the fence. The ball, well it had eyes for the seats in hopes of sending the home crowd happy, but … the ball hits on top of the wall and lands back on the warning track. In real time, it looked like it may have cleared the fence and ricocheted off a small barrier just behind the wall, which must be why the umpire twirled his little finger (I bet they love doing that) and signaled that the “home run” had ended the game.
BUT WAIT! Esteemed ceviche lover and part-time Sox manager Ricky Renteria went out to the umps and, with nothing to lose, asked for a review to make sure that ball went out. And, dear reader, I can say with no impartiality, that ball didn’t clear the wall! So, great! Slow-mo that tape down in New York, call the ground-rule double and let’s get the band off the field … we got more free baseba-
The umps took off their headsets. The finger twirled in the air. It is twirled for a second time. I was more sad and confused by a meaningless September Sox loss to a terrible Mariners team than I was a few minutes prior on the first home run call. And, until today, I always wondered why they stuck with that decision. Well … funny you should ask … while I was looking for a link to the walk-off, I found this from WGN that ran the following day: https://wgntv.com/2019/09/15/mlb-says-miscommunication-led-to-no-review-of-walk-off-in-white-sox-loss/
Here’s the supremely depressiing explanation which is just so, so Ricky (emphasis mine):
White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he immediately asked umpires to review the homer, and they then went to the headset used to communicate with replay officials.
When Renteria and the umpires reconvened, they asked if Renteria wanted to challenge whether Narváez had touched home plate amid his celebrating teammates. Renteria mistakenly thought this meant officials had ruled the ball cleared the fence and declined to challenge whether Narváez touched home, because he had already seen on replays that he had.
Anywho, did this loss matter in the long run? Of course not. Teams with 89 losses are 0-for-forever in making the playoffs, so this one was not one to cry over. But … for the constraints given by this exercise, I’m marking this down as the Yonder Alonso of White Sox losses in 2019.
Thanks for reading! Oh and congrats to the Washington Nationals for winning the franchise’s first World Series! If they didn’t have someone from the Expos days at the parade give a speech in French, the win should be null and void….
Part of the ‘3.9 crew’: Jay warms up before one of the few games he actually played in during 2019. (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)
Though the 2019 White Sox season had some good, there was also plenty of bad to talk about.
In Year 3 of the rebuild, in what was undoubtedly the worst division in baseball, the White Sox only managed 72 wins. The AL Central had one of the worst teams in the history of baseball, the 114-loss Tigers, and a terrible, 103-loss Royals team. Cleveland finished with 93 wins, but they were wounded this year, and feasted on Detroit and Kansas City. The Twins were legitimate, but how much of their success was real, and how much was weak competition?
The fact is, the White Sox should’ve been better in 2019, especially with the performances the top half of this roster provided. But as the case has been for quite a while now, the front office just can’t seem to stop tripping over itself. Here’s how.
Notable offseason additions for the Sox included trading for Manny Bañuelos, Yonder Alonso, Alex Colomé, and Iván Nova, and signing Jon Jay, James McCann, and Kelvin Herrera. Last but not least, the White Sox picked up A.J Reed over the All Star break.
The combined bWAR of those eight players was 3.9. It bears repeating: The combined bWAR of those eight players was 3.9!!!!!
To have eight players added to a team only produce 3.9 WAR is an unmitigated disaster! Sure, McCann was a pretty nice find. He had a career year in 2019, but basically disappeared in the second half of the season. I’d bet on him returning to his career norms. Colomé had a pretty good year, but seems to have had some good luck contribute to his results. Nova was average to slightly-above average, but was a disaster early in the season.
The rest of the additions were hot garbage, and there’s really no way to argue otherwise. The White Sox spent approximately $40 million on those eight players in 2019.
Manny Machado had a 3.3 bWAR by himself, and signed for $30 million per year. Bryce Harper was a 4.2 bWAR player in 2019, and signed for about $25 million per season. The position Harper plays is a black hole for the Sox, and now they’re in desperate need for someone exactly like him.
For the fans that want to argue that it’s still early in the rebuild, and the White Sox weren’t supposed to win yet, fine. So they are still in building mode? If they are, shouldn’t their pro scouting be able to net them better major league players, so they can trade them midseason for minor league depth, or become long term contributors to the big league club? The minor league system is very top-heavy right now, and better offseason additions would’ve been helpful to help supplant that talent.
The truth is, this issue is nothing new. The Sox have had a terrible time identifying even average major league talent in trades and free agency going on a decade now. It’s fiscally responsible to shop for the best players when they’re available, as opposed to shopping for quantity in the bargain bin. There’s a reason the lower-end players are available, and in terms of value and sunk cost, they end up costing a team more in the long run. Collectively, they contribute less positive results on the field than the more expensive players do. Even with some of the high-end talent the Sox have in house, it will be very difficult building a perennial contender if they don’t fix these scouting problems, and the 2020 offseason is quickly approaching. Remember, “the money will be spent.”
The White Sox are a team that has been plagued by a lack of on-base prowess for quite a while now. Most of the players on the team have an overly-aggressive approach at the plate that repeatedly gets exploited by opposing pitchers, leading to high strikeout rates, a lack of power, a lack of walks, and fewer runs scored overall. Opposing pitchers aren’t forced to throw strikes against the Sox, and the fewer strikes they have to throw, the less they have to use the middle of the plate, where hitters do most of their damage.
This is why the Sox parted ways with former hitting coach Todd Steverson, and hired Frank Menechino in his place. The on-base problems may be coaching issues, scouting issues, or a combination of the two. Consider that the White Sox were 23rd in the baseball with a .314 OBP (13th in the AL), 24th in OPS at .728 (12th), 24th in runs scored with 708 (13th), 25th in dingers with 182 (13th), 30th in walks with 378 (15th) … you get the idea. Only Arizona, Boston, Miami, and the Mets hit more ground balls than the White Sox. They were also 29th in baseball with 462 extra base hits.
It’s important to do as much damage at the plate as possible in today’s game, but when you are constantly giving up outs by bunting, runs become even more scarce. The Sox had three players in the top six in sacrifice bunts in 2019: Leury García led the A.L with 11, Yolmer Sánchez was tied for third with 7, and part-time player Ryan Cordell was tied for sixth with 6.
This is too much bunting. If the team is to get into the upper echelon of the league in scoring runs, the bunting has to stop, period. What plagued the 2019 White Sox on offense is equal parts philosophy, scouting/talent evaluation, and approach from the individual players.
Make no mistake; This isn’t an easy problem to fix. It’s not as simple as adding Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal. The front office has to find better players in free agency, trades, and the players that are already here have to improve.
Obviously, injuries really hurt the White Sox starting pitching depth. Losing Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodón, Dane Dunning, and Jimmy Lambert to Tommy John surgery were big blows to the staff and its depth. There was a dose of bad luck that struck the White Sox in 2019, but good teams largely have the depth to survive the bad luck (and only Rodón’s midseason injury should have thrown the major league rotation into a lurch).
The problem with the rotation is that other than Lucas Giolito, nobody else on the staff really shined. Nova had some good moments, as did Reynaldo López,, but both were inconsistent throughout the year. They each had disastrous stretches of the season, with Reylo’s being more concerning.
Reylo certainly looked like a pretty good prospect with a live arm, but he hasn’t established any above average secondary pitches. His pitches have good velocity, but hitters can catch up to that velocity when they know they can just spit on the secondary offerings. There’s too much hard contact, too many walks, too many fly balls, and not enough missed bats (5.38 ERA, 184 innings, 169 strikeouts, 203 hits, 35 dingers allowed, and 65 walks). At times, Reylo battled with his command and seemed to lose his focus. Time is running out for him to be a success as a starting pitcher, and the Sox aren’t in development mode any longer. It’s either Reylo steps up his game in 2020, or it’s time for a change either to the bullpen or into trade bait.
Dylan Cease deserves time to develop and has good stuff, but why oh why can’t any White Sox prospects come up and light the world on fire immediately? Walks plagued Cease in his rookie campaign, but he has great breaking stuff, and a very good fastball. Can he develop a changeup and improve his command in his sophomore season? Only time will tell.
What there’s no excuse for, is the ridiculous lack of options the Sox had in terms of starting pitching depth in 2019. They literally ran out of major league-capable starting pitching. Bad player evaluation is what nets you Erving Santana (9.45 ERA), Bañuelos (6.93 ERA), Odrisamer Despaigne (9.45 ERA), Dylan Covey (7.98 ERA), Ross Detwiler (6.59 ERA), Carson Fulmer (2015 8th pick, 6.26 ERA), and Hector Santiago (6.66 ERA). Maybe a couple of those guys deserved a look and a chance in 2019, but what in the hell did anyone learn from starting Santana, Santiago, Despaigne, Detwiler, and Covey 32 times? This is completely inexcusable from a front office that has to find a way to scramble for better back-up plans.
Diamonds in the rough are essential for successful rebuilds. So far it’s just been charlatans.
Old school closing: Despite what metrics said, Alex Colome with 30 saves had an excellent 2019. (@whitesox)
“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:
Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
Free agent options at that position
This article delves into the career of Alex Colomé through 2018, his 2019 season with the White Sox, and what his future looks like in the White Sox organization.
How did he get here?
Colomé, a native of the Dominican Republic, signed an international contract with the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays on March 27, 2007 as an 18-year-old. He slowly worked his way up the farm system as a starting pitcher until debuting against the Marlins on May 30, 2013, striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings of work. He bounced back-and-forth from 2013-15 with the Rays, finally staying for good in 2015. That year for the Rays in 43 appearances (13 starts) spanning 109 2/3 innings, Colomé produced a 3.94 ERA and 1.30 WHIP by relinquishing 112 hits (.271 OBA) and 31 walks (6.8%) while striking out 88 (19.3%).
The following year (2016) saw Colomé reach his career-bests in ERA, WHIP and FIP. In 57 games totaling 56 2/3 innings that year, he compiled 37 saves with a 1.91 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 2.92 FIP as he surrendered 43 hits (.206 OBA) and 15 walks (7.1%) while fanning 71 (33.6%). Colomé reached his career-high in saves with 47 in 2017 while he compiled a 3.24 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 65 games spanning 66 2/3 innings. That year, he allowed 57 hits (.232 OBA) and 23 walks (8.2%) while striking out 58 (20.6%).
After saving 12 games for the Rays through late June 2018, he was traded along with outfielder Denard Span and cash to the Mariners for pitchers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Although his role with Seattle was altered from closer to setup man thanks to the presence of Edwin Diaz, Colomé still provided the same quality results. In 70 combined games (68 innings) with both teams, he compiled a 3.04 ERA and 1.18 WHIP by allowing 59 hits (.230 OBA) and 21 walks (7.4%) while striking out 72 (25.5%). Two months after the season ended, he was traded to the White Sox for offensive-minded catcher Omar Narváez.
With the White Sox in 2019
Despite Colomé’s struggles in the stretch run, he was quite the stabilizing force in what was at times a tumultuous bullpen during the 2019 season. With 30 saves, Colomé was successful in all but three attempts. In a total of 62 games spanning 61 innings for the year, he allowed just 42 hits (.191 OBA) and 23 walks (9.2%) while striking out 55 (22.1%). It didn’t matter if it was lefties or righties facing him, Colomé was equally effective against both (.190 vs. lefties, .192 vs. righties). Of course, as mentioned throughout the season ad nauseum, Colomé’s metrics indicate he may have been lucky (4.09 FIP, .215 BABIP). When you look at his entire career, Colomé has outperformed his FIP in all but the 2015 seasons. There’s clearly something to be said about pitchers simply making the right pitches at the opportune times.
Colomé used his cutter 68.3% of the time this year, and it was far more effective than his four-seamer. Against the cutter (which averaged 90.4 mph per Baseball Savant), hitters slashed just .174/.222/.299. Colomé used his four-seamer, which averaged 94.4 mph, 28.8% of the time; against that offering, hitters fared much better at .273/.417/.412. His third offering, a changeup, was used quite sparingly at 2.9% frequency. Hitters didn’t do much damage off of that surprise offering, as they slashed just .111/.193/.222 against it.
Metrics haven’t really caught up to the value of a closer. Thus despite his solid year, Colomé attained a bWAR of just 1.0. Considering each bWAR is worth approximately $7.7 million on the free agent market per FanGraphs, taking into account his 2019 salary of $7.325 million, Colomé produced a net value of $325,000. Colomé will be eligible for arbitration this offseason and is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2020 campaign.
What does his future have in store?
As mentioned above, metrics don’t take kindly to pitchers like Colomé. In fact, despite a mostly solid relieving career to date in which he’s posted 126 saves, he’s amassed only a 6.7 bWAR. With that said, there’s something to be said for Colomé being a relatively calming influence in the clubhouse. After all, there are few things more devastating in a baseball season than leads blown in the ninth inning.
While the White Sox certainly have had some success in the bullpen in 2019 with the likes of Aaron Bummer, Jimmy Cordero and Evan Marshall among others, none of them have real major league experience closing games on a regular basis. Colomé’s consistency means that the others won’t have to switch roles. There are certainly quality closer arms in the minors, but most have had their progress delayed due to a combination of ineffectiveness and injuries.
Barring a trade for an even more effective closer, it seems likely that Colomé will be tendered arbitration. (MLB Trade Rumors predicts an arbitration salary of $10.3 million.) It’s unlikely that the White Sox will extend Colomé beyond 2020 due to the vast number of quality arms in the system, but one never knows what the baseball gods will have in store for the White Sox. If the White Sox are out of the playoff picture by next year’s trade deadline, Colomé could be made available for teams needing closers or reliable setup guys — just don’t count on receiving too much, due to the aforementioned metrics.
So, the season is running out, and my plan to write yesterday’s doubleheader an inning at a time, in 18 voices, was ruined by rains.
I thought about throwing a few voices into this single-game story and see where it goes, but eh, that’s half-assing, and while half-assing is an appropriate way to encapsulate the 2019 Chicago White Sox — still in line for a possible 90 losses, people — I’ll run these fun tricks out when it feels right; maybe jump on it earlier in the season. Or pull the ol’ 1,000-word, one-sentence recap out of the bag. (It was a successful year for robots, less so for the 18 one-act play doubleheader. Alas.)
So yeah, the White Sox managed to both dash a perfect season leading after eight (59-0 entering today … not 59-0 leaving this nightcap) and keep that 90-loss season alive when Alex Colomé snatched defeat from win and allowed a pinch-hit three-run homer to John Hicks, of the Thrown Out By 70 Feet at Home Plate in the Opener Hickses. That turned a 2-1 near-win into a 4-2 deficit, with a pinch-rocket by Yoán Moncada (sadly, just a solo shot) providing the 4-3 final.
In the top of the ninth, Tim Anderson took our minds off of his impending batting title with his 26th error, and TA’s errant throw to first to the leadoff man did become was in fact the tying run of the game. Meatball takes on Anderson’s future in Chicago, activate!
Otherwise, the most exciting thing about this game was a #SoxMath controversy that I am too dim to understand, but the gist was that Jason Benetti’s question was uncommonly vague and the “correct” answer was in fact wrong. SSHPers Lauren Wilner and Ashley Sanders both buzzed in with the correct “wrong” answers, or LWilz was wrong-right and Ash was right-wrong. See? I told you. It was both the most exciting part of the game, and something I cannot understand. But seriously, however many SSHPers end up in the #SoxMath iso booth at SoxFest for the big prize, be sure to be geared up with our stuff. And in fact, anyone planning to attend, if you are game to cover the Fest, I think via SSS or SSHP we can get semi-press passes. I doubt I can ask for dozens, but, point is, when the weather gets so cold you can’t feel your toes — is it that cold up there already, people? — we’ll talk.
OK, back to the game. Zack Collins had a two-run single in the second to open scoring, and from there, the White Sox offense was pretty much ineffectual. There was only one extra-base hit, an Adam Engel double. The team fell back into One True Outcome mode otherwise, with a handy nine Ks. What was kool about this klatch of Ks was the White Sox had nine different hitters in the game strike out (and shockingly, none was from team K leader Moncada, who had just that one at-bat in the ninth). Le whiff especíal goes to Daniel Palka, who lost his shot at one last bout of PALKMANIA when he struck out on a battery of wild pitches to end the game pinch-hitting in the ninth; average tumbles down to .111.
Good enough news for Anderson at the plate, though; he went 0-2 with two walks to fall to .337, but the major league batting title is essentially his. It would take a 5-for-5 day from DJ LeMahieucombined with an 0-for-5 from TA to him to lose it. A 4-for-4 and 0-for-4? Nope, Tim still wins. (Duh, yeah, I did the math, you think they gave me this SSHP Grand Poobah job for being cute?)
José Abreu has the AL RBI crown locked, seven up on Xander Bogaerts. As for the MLB title, Abreu is three behind Anthony Rendon, so that’s not looking too likely.
Aside from Colomé spitting the bit (meatball takes on the Seattle trade being a bad one, activate!), the South Side arms were plenty sweet, with Iván Nova, Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall and Jimmy Biceps going 8 ⅓ innings with five hits, one run, two walks and eight strikeouts.
At long last, the season finale hits tomorrow afternoon. TBA (the initials of three White Sox relievers?) taking the ball for the White Sox. At stake: A batting title for Anderson, RBI title for Abreu, avoiding 90 losses for the White Sox, and giving Ashley Sanders a chance to finally break out the sunglasses emoji over on South Side Hit Pen!
I Feel Fine: Tim Anderson’s four hits raised his average to .336, including a phantom game-winning homer in the 11th. (@WhiteSox)
Tonight’s White Sox game against the Minnesota Twins began how many fans expected it to begin.
Well, not the first two innings. Ross Detwiler was on fire during those innings.
Detwiler going up against this powerful Twins lineup looked like a terrible matchup on paper, on the diamond — really, everywhere.
The Twins got their act together in the third inning, putting up a five-spot on the White Sox lefty.
Our good ol’ friend Ryan LaMarre hit a solo shot to start the scoring off Detwiler. Eddie Rosario doubled home Mitch Garver later that inning before Miguel Sanó sent a ball to Canada.
Sanó’s three-run home run that inning traveled 482 feet. I will enjoy watching him and Cruz terrorize other pitching staffs in the playoffs. We’ve seen enough of that against the White Sox this season.
But give credit to the White Sox. They battled back in this game. Detwiler did limit the damage after the third inning. He ended up going five innings, giving up just those five runs. Take what you can get.
James McCann was first to help the Sox chip away at the lead, driving in Eloy Jiménez from second base in the fourth inning.
Rosario made a nice play on Tim Anderson in the next inning, preventing Timmy from getting his third hit of the night. Regardless, Anderson and the Sox settled for a sac fly on the play to get the team within three runs of the lead.
Later that inning, José Abreu blooped an RBI single to right field. That was his 119th of the season. Not bad.
Then came the White Sox sixth inning. Zack Collins hit his second home run of his career high into the sky and into the right field seats. Before Collins’ teammates could finish giving him high-fives in the dugout, Adam Engel hit a solo shot of his own into the left field seats.
The White Sox had rallied back to tie the game, 5-5.
The Sox got some good bullpen work tonight. Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer, Kelvin Herrera and Josh Osich all had scoreless outings.
The game stayed tied 5-5 until Anderson launched a home run to left in the 11th inning. It’s incredibly difficult to sneak a fastball by him. The pitch came after Anderson laid off a slider out of the zone.
Anderson’s average is up to .336.
White Sox closer Alex Colomé came on in bottom of the 11th to shut things down but could not do that. Colomé gave up a sac fly to Mitch Garver to extend the game.
That opened up an opportunity for Ryan Cordell to hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead two-run home run (I’m running out of hyphens) in the top of the 12th.
José Ruiz attempted the save in the bottom-half of the inning, and, well, that didn’t happen either. The Twins scored three in the inning and won it on a HBP. Ugh.
All arm, no W: Sorry Lucas, you deserved the W today. (@WhiteSox)
I admit I am not as gifted with the snappy alliterative titles as our Baller Librarian but I feel that my skills are at least 40-man roster worthy. For those playing along at home, our 40-man roster includes Daniel Palka, Dylan Covey and Welington Castillo, so I’d say the bar is rather low.
Anyway, it’s been nearly a month since Lucas Giolito earned a win, and I’m starting to think he might never reach 15. Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong today: Since this game was a mix of unfortunate and unlucky, yet still enjoyable, I bring you a mishmash of styles and formats, which is almost certainly going to drive my editor up the wall (Hi, Brett!).
First inning: Giolito Strikeout Count: Two (Whit Merrifield, Hunter Dozier). Jorge Soler continued to slaughter White Sox starters, launching a solo shot supposedly into the stands but if you told me it landed on the moon I’d believe you.
In our half of the first, Yoán Moncada poked a single into right; I’m not sure how I feel about seeing him in the leadoff spot. Abreu drew a walk only to have Eloy Jiménez ground into a double play for the ninth time this season. Fun fact: Million Dollar Manny Machado leads the league in this category with 23.
Second inning: The Royals struck again, as rookie Ryan McBroom, a September call-up singled, advanced to third on a Meibrys Viloria double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Erick Mejia, owner of three career at-bats and a .000 batting average. It was Mejia’s first career RBI, so I feel a duty to let him enjoy his moment:
Eventually I’ll have some White Sox highlights for you, I
Giolito Strikeout Count remains at two.
Bottom of the second: PALKA HIT WATCH. WE HAVE MADE CONTACT! And we have no joy, thanks a lot, Mejia. You could have let that ball drop. Palka can’t seem to catch a break (new game, drink whenever somebody says, thinks, writes or tweets that sentence).
Yolmer got drilled on the top of his foot by a pitch, which then nicked Viloria in the … let’s just say he’s singing Soprano now. ꓘollins ended the inning with a ꓘ.
Third Inning: Giolito Strikeout Count: Three more on 13 pitches (Merrifield, Soler, Dozier), for a total of four. Gio’s curve and slider were cruising in at a cool 80 mph while the four-seam fastball averaged about 95. Lucas had some stuff today!
In the bottom of the third, Moncada hit a ball between first and second, Merrifield couldn’t get a grip on it, and YoYo reached first base for the second time in as many attempts. López had his knuckle curve working for him today, and Tim Anderson went down swinging. José launched a ball into center field, and so began the two-out rally! Eloy blasted a ball into center, Moncada scored, Abreu must not have known that it didn’t make it past Merrifield and was thrown out at home. A one-run rally cut our deficit in half, so we’ll take what we can get. I found it interesting that the White Sox announcers blamed José for running through the sign, while KC’s announcers touted Merrifield’s “run-saving heroics.” Both versions are courtesy of Baseball Theater:
The Kansas City version also features my nemesis: the strike zone box. Ban the box! (Do we need to make a shirt for this?)
Top of the Fourth:
Giolito Strikeout Count (can we just call it the GSC?): three more (O’Hearn,
McBroom, Phillips) so the total is now eight, including a streak of six in a
row. This is the Lucas GioELITEo we’ve come to know and love, we just won’t
have him pitch against the Cubs next season.
Bottom of the fourth: PALKA HIT WATCH: Palka hit into the shift on the first pitch.
On to happier times, the top of the fifth: GSC: Giolito struck out his ninth and 10th batters, and seventh and eighth in a row (Viloria and Mejia). Lucas’s streak of consecutive strikeouts would end at eight, as Nicky Lopez grounded out. With those eight consecutive strikeouts, Giolito set a new White Sox record! One of my favorite Twitter accounts, Pitching Ninja, has combined all eight for your viewing pleasure:
Engel led off the bottom of the inning, beating the throw on an infield single by an eyelash, followed by Moncada sending another base hit into right field. Anderson popped out to short center, putting him at nada for three so far. Has he forgotten he’s trying to win a batting title? Abreu drove in Engel on a sacrifice fly to the warning track, and brought us to 2-2. I brought my profound thoughts to Twitter:
By now I have fully abandoned the bold inning
indicators. Brett’s head is spinning. (In
case you were wondering what the A. stands for in my initials, I wouldn’t rule
Lucas gave up his first walk of the day to lead off the sixth, Soler singled, and then of course Dozier hit a home run to put the Royals up, 5-2. Not all was lost, however, as the GSC tacked on another pair of strikeouts to O’Hearn and McBroom, putting what would be his final tally at 12.
My man James McHotDamn led off the sixth with a sizzling double that bounced off the center field fence. PALKA HIT WATCH: WE HAVE MADE CONTACT! But alas, tis foul. And now we’re behind in the count. On the next pitch, Palka beat out an infield single (of sorts, as it was fielded in short left) and based on the noise in the ballpark, you would think we just clinched the division. Relive the glory here:
Yolmer hit a sacrifice fly to score McCann, and that was all she wrote for Jorge López. Left-handed sidearmer Tim Hill entered the game, as did Danny Mendick. Hill’s sweeping sideways pitching motion and horizontal ball movement made quick work of Mendick and Engel, who both went down on strikes.
Jace Fry came out for the Sox in the seventh, struck out Viloria and induced a pair of infield ground outs to Anderson to easily retire the side, but the elusive 15th win evaded Lucas once again.
In our half of the seventh, Anderson finally got a hit! Eloy walked on four pitches and James McDamn hit a ball into left, and Anderson tripped rounding third and had to scramble* back to the base. A pitching change brought Leury García in as a pinch-hitter for Palka, ending the Palka Hit Watch with a final count of one. Leury struck out and into the eighth we went, still losing. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a video of Timmy’s baserunning miscue so you’ll just have to trust me, it was ugly.
* I would not call what Tim did to return to the base “scrambling,” it was more of a lazy stroll. This makes me see red, and I angered White Sox Twitter saying so. We’ll return to this topic shortly.
My man Jimmy Biceps Cordero came in to pitch the eighth. Some of you might be aware of my adoration for the flame throwing, sleeve-fighting righty, and new SSHP free agent signing Sean made a good case for keeping him around next season. Jimmy is a multi-talented guy, look, he can bunt!
His sleeve-rolling angered our opponent’s fans, which reflects quite favorably in my book.
Alex Colomé came out to pitch the ninth, and walked the first man he saw. Next up, Brett Phillips hit a sacrifice bunt and Colomé threw the ball to center field. Allow me to digress, this is why I get so upset about players not running out routine fly/ground balls (or get back to a base after tripping, Tim). Pitchers botch throws all the time and if you turn and walk back to the dugout while you’re losing a game and you’re in a pennant race then you deserve to lose the World Series (to the Cubs of all teams, thanks for nothing, Cleveland).
Anyway, that error, followed by a wild pitch would allow
another run to score, putting the final nail in the coffin for this game.
The White Sox made it exciting, and as billed, Ricky’s boys didn’t quit, but after Anderson collected his second hit, Eloy walked, McCann walked, Leury struck out with the bases loaded, and that was that.
Now for my game rankings, inspired by whoever buried
Justified’s Mitchell Report:
Win: Giolito, striking out eight in a row for a total of 12 and earning himself the distinguished title of White Sox franchise record holder for most consecutive strikeouts. It’s just a shame that when he gives up a hit, it’s often a home run.
Place: McCann picked up two hits, scored a run and didn’t strike out at all. McCann has shown he’s reliable in clutch situations, and got himself on base, but with you-know-who batting after him, the odds of a rally weren’t great.
Show: Palka, congratulations on ending your 148-day major league hitting drought and collecting your second base hit of 2019!
Also-Ran: Abreu had a hit and an RBI, but a bonehead trotting error (sorry, I would not call his craft “running,” per se) allowed the Royals to mow him down out at home. Add that to two strikeouts and it leaves Pito out of the winner’s circle today.
Glue Factory: Leury struck out with the bases loaded … twice. He’s been one of the most versatile players on the team all season, but today he’s drawn my ire.
As I hinted in the gamethread, we have a brand-new shirt coming out sometime in the next few days. After bitching on Twitter for the better part of two months that someone should make this shirt and sell one to me, I decided to take things into my own hands. Since we now have our own store, I spent more hours than I wish to admit planning and conceiving this work of art, and searching for the perfect person to design it for me so we could bring it to you! We’ve largely kept it under wraps so nobody tries to knock off our design with an inferior model, but here’s a little taste of what’s coming:
We’ve got some more ideas in the works, but we want to hear from you! Do you want a Jimmy Biceps shirt featuring our one-sleeved bullpen hero? What about McCann? Moncada? What are some nicknames or catch phrases you’d love to have on a tee? Let us know what types of shirts you’d like to see, either in the comments or email them to me.
Joe has the Mariners game for you tomorrow, and stay tuned for the release of what I know will be your new favorite White Sox design!
May the odds be ever in your favor: According to the graph, the odds were almost always in the favor of the White Sox, and they made sure to prove the odds true. (FanGraphs)
Mal Tiempo collects RBIs No. 99 and 100
Yesterday, the Texas Rangers had the pitching going for them, and for this afternoon, the tables turned. The Chicago White Sox recorded the one-hit shutout and took the season series from the Rangers (4-3).
Reynaldo López was firing on all cylinders during this afternoon’s ballgame. He pitched five complete innings, which consisted of 80 pitches. The thrill of that? He threw five shutout AND no-hit innings. Unfortunately, he left the game with signs of dehydration and flu-like symptoms. Wishing for a speedy recovery!
José Abreu collects RBIs No. 99 and 100. With that, Mal Tiempo is third on the all-time Chicago White Sox list of seasons with 100-plus RBIs.
The collective pitching effort of the Good Guys only gave up one hit to the Rangers. Recently, the South Siders have had some remarkable pitching efforts by starters and relievers. If the batters can keep complementing the pitchers with overall solid defense, this team will be a legit contender in 2020 as Abreu predicts.
With today’s save, Alex Colomé registers his 25th save in 26 opportunities. He definitely lives up to his Players’ Weekend nickname: The Horse.
The South Side pitchers totaled a .607 WPA, and they were absolutely magnificent.
Today’s wonderfully-pitched ballgame and simple-hitting baseball equated to the Sox’s 60th win of the season. The South Siders are 60-70 overall.