AL Central Big 3: The offenses

Big boost: Thanks in part to the acquisition of Yasmani Grandal, the White Sox now trail only the Twins in fWAR among its offensive roster. (@WhiteSox)


It’s been quite the interesting offseason in the AL Central.

The White Sox have added a number of solid veterans to its young core, while also granting extensions for veteran slugger José Abreu and phenom outfielder Luis Robert. The Twins added Josh Donaldson to its already potent offense while adding rotation depth in the forms of Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. Cleveland, in the meantime, has basically maintained their status quo with the exception of trading pricey hurler Corey Kluber for reliever Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields Jr. as they hope to maintain their success by simply staying healthy.

Of course, based on last season, there’s quite a bit of separation among the three teams: The Twins are coming off a 101-61 season, Cleveland a 93-69 record, and the White Sox a 72-89 mark. But as there should unquestionably be some better bunching at the top this season (PECOTA projects 93, 86 and 82 wins, respectively), we’re ramping up to the start of Cactus League play with three looks at the Big 3 ball clubs, on offense, pitching and intangibles. 

Projected 2020 stats are per Steamer, and players’ ages listed in parentheses are as of Opening Day.


Minnesota Twins

Outfield
Eddie Rosario, LF (27) .284/.320/.499, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 5 SB, 2.4 fWAR
Byron Buxton, CF (26) .262/.317/.461, 20 HR, 73 RBI, 23 SB, 3.2 fWAR
Max Kepler, RF (28) .260/.343/.490, 30 HR, 93 RBI, 6 SB, 3.7 fWAR
Marwin Gonzalez (31) .269/.334/.444, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB, 0.8 fWAR
Jake Cave (27) .256/.315/.423, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 0.1 fWAR

Infield
Miguel Sano, 1B (26) .246/.337/.519, 37 HR, 97 RBI, 1 SB, 2.3 fWAR
Luis Arraez, 2B (22) .312/.369/.415, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 6 SB, 2.5 fWAR
Jorge Polanco, SS (26) .281/.344/.453, 19 HR, 82 RBI, 7 SB, 2.9 fWAR
Josh Donaldson, 3B (34) .267/.379/.527, 36 HR, 103 RBI, 4 SB, 5.3 fWAR
Ehire Adrianza (30) .256/.317/.389, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 0.2 fWAR

Catchers
Mitch Garver (29) .254/.333/.464, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 1 SB, 1.9 fWAR
Alex Avila (33) .214/.342/.379, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB, 1.1 fWAR

Designated Hitter
Nelson Cruz (39) .282/.363/.547, 40 HR, 114 RBI, 1 SB, 2.9 fWAR

Certainly, some regression is expected after nearly everyone on Minnesota’s roster enjoyed career years offensively in 2019. The above numbers reflect this, especially when looking at Garver’s anticipated drop-off from last year’s .273/.365/.630 slash line with 31 homers. Even so, this is an extremely dangerous offense and arguably the best in the American League. With the acquisition of Donaldson, third catcher and contact maestro Willians Austudillo will likely begin in the minors, but should still receive some playing time if an injury occurs.The only weakness to this offense may be the ability to manufacture runs if they’re not hitting bombs, as the only player who’s projected to steal in double digits is the oft-injured Buxton. The above roster above posted an aggregate 3.5 defensive bWAR last year, spearheaded by Donaldson (1.7) and Buxton (1.3, despite missing 75 games); the defense’s Achilles heel last year was Rosario (-1.1).


Cleveland

Outfield
Domingo Santana, LF (24) .248/.345/.441, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 5 SB, 0.4 fWAR
Oscar Mercado, CF (25) .256/.313/.402, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 15 SB, 1.0 fWAR
Greg Allen, RF (27) .246/.310/.362, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 7 SB, -0.1 fWAR
Jordan Luplow (26) .250/.333/.449, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 4 SB, 0.7 fWAR
Delino DeShields Jr. (27) .231/.313/.338, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 9 SB, 0.2 fWAR

Infield
Carlos Santana, 1B (33) .260/.375/.482, 29 HR, 93 RBI, 3 SB, 2.7 fWAR
Cesar Hernandez, 2B (29) .277/.355/.399, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 9 SB, 2.0 fWAR
Francisco Lindor, SS (26) .289/.354/.531, 35 HR, 95 RBI, 22 SB, 6.0 fWAR
José Ramírez, 3B (27) .277/.362/.523, 31 HR, 101 RBI, 23 SB, 5.1 fWAR|
Christian Arroyo (24) .247/.301/.395, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 0.1 fWAR

Catchers
Roberto Perez (31) .219/.303/.399, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 1 SB, 2.2 fWAR
Sandy Leon (31) .217/.278/.346, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB, 0.5 fWAR

Designated Hitter
Franmil Reyes (24) .260/.329/.517, 36 HR, 93 RBI, 1 SB, 1.5 fWAR

There’s still some uncertainty in this lineup, particularly in the outfield. Jake Bauers is not expected by FanGraphs to make the Opening Day roster thanks to the recent signing of Domingo Santana, but he still has a shot to beat out either Allen or DeShields in spring training. When Reyes does spend some time in the outfield this year, he and Santana could be the modern-day defensive equivalent of Greg Luzinski and Dave Kingman at the corners. If the Indians get off to a rocky start, expect trade talks regarding Lindor to intensify. Offensively, the strength of this team is clearly the infield with Lindor, Ramírez and Santana. Defensively, this roster posted an aggregate 6.3 defensive bWAR last year, led by Perez (2.6) and Lindor (1.7); the weakest defensive player in 2019 on this year’s roster was easily Domingo Santana, with a -1.9 mark. This team is loaded with switch-hitters and platoon possibilities, so Cleveland could definitely post match-up difficulties to opposing pitchers. With several guys capable of double-digit steals, the Indians should be able to manufacture runs when the offense isn’t entirely clicking.    


Chicago White Sox

Outfield
Eloy Jiménez, LF (24) .279/.329/.520, 33 HR, 95 RBI, 1 SB, 2.7 fWAR
Luis Robert, CF (22) .273/.317/.488, 26 HR, 83 RBI, 23 SB, 2.9 fWAR
Nomar Mazara, RF (24) .255/.318./.467, 25 HR, 77 RBI, 3 SB, 1.4 fWAR
Leury García (29) .261/.300/.374, 8 HR, 39 RBI, 10 SB, 0.4 fWAR
Adam Engel (28) .221/.281/.352, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB, 0.0 fWAR

Infield
José Abreu, 1B (33) .275/.332/.497, 32 HR, 101 RBI, 3 SB, 1.8 fWAR
Nick Madrigal, 2B (23) .287/.337/.392, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 19 SB, 1.5 fWAR
Tim Anderson, SS (26) .275/.308/.441, 21 HR, 79 RBI, 17 SB, 2.0 fWAR
Yoán Moncada, 3B (24) .267/.340/.475, 27 HR, 86 RBI, 12 SB, 4.0 fWAR
Danny Mendick (26) .243/.310/.376, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 0.2 fWAR

Catchers
Yasmani Grandal (31) .239/.358/.459, 25 HR, 73 RBI, 3 SB, 5.0 fWAR
James McCann (29) .238/.297/.390, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 1 SB, 0.3 fWAR

Designated Hitter
Edwin Encarnación (37) .246/.346/.499, 35 HR, 92 RBI, 2 SB, 1.9 fWAR

Because of their high BABIP last year, Steamer expects Anderson’s and Moncada’s batting averages to drop significantly in 2020. And because of the volatility of rookies and youngsters, it’s hard to project guys like Robert and Madrigal will fare when they make it to the big show. Thus, there’s a great degree of variance between upsides and floors for the White Sox overall. The numbers seem respectable for Robert but a little down for Madrigal; of these three teams, the White Sox are the only team to expect to have two rookies earn regular playing time. The defense posted an aggregate of -0.6 defensive bWAR, despite the additions of Madrigal, Robert and Grandal. Unsurprisingly, the biggest culprits are Jiménez and Abreu, but the White Sox’s defensive value should still be higher in 2020 providing that Anderson commits fewer errors and Moncada continues his improvement at the hot corner. As a side note, while FanGraphs expects García to begin the Opening Day roster as the team’s second baseman, I have Madrigal listed as the starter as there’s a chance he’s given an extension and/or enjoys a solid spring.


As the numbers above reflect a combination of offense and defense, the Twins clearly have the best combined non-pitching roster among these three teams, at 29.3 fWAR. If Minnesota’s hitters avoid their expected regression offensively, that number could easily climb another five points or more. The White Sox actually rank behind the Twins at 24.1 fWAR despite their unproven youth, thanks in part to its dynamic catching tandem of Grandal and McCann. Interestingly, Minnesota’s acquisition of Donaldson essentially makes up the projected fWAR difference between the White Sox and Twins — at least offensively. Cleveland has the weakest roster offensively of the three teams, despite having an excellent infield on paper. That team is hampered by its lack of outfield thump, as the combined 2.2 fWAR in that area brings their expected total to 22.3 (despite having the best defensive numbers and two of the best players in the division). For the White Sox to rank second in the division offensively isn’t a slap in the face, as the Twins are arguably the best offense in the American League, if not all of baseball.


 

 

 

 

 

               

 

          

Twins beat White Sox 9-8; Ruiz, Colomé blow saves

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.

Sox can’t capitalize on early 2-0 lead in loss to Twins

Another day: Another tough game. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


Hey! A quick start by the White Sox, and they were on to an early 2-0 lead against the Minnesota Twins. In the first inning, after a single and a double from Leury García and Yoán Moncada opened up the game, the AL RBI leader José Abreu came up to the plate. He did what he has done all year, drive in runs — no matter what or how.

Yeah, Moncada probably should have stayed at second, but being aggressive is what the White Sox should be these last two weeks of baseball. Abreu extended his lead in RBI to 118. In the next inning Reynaldo López got through a little trouble (though it was not all on him due to an error from Yolmer Sánchez), but it was a sign of things to come. James McCann hit his 17th home run of the season, and his fourth off of Berríos, in the second inning.

Just like that the Sox were up by two, but remember when López wasn’t all that great in the first inning? Well, he was worse in the second, allowing two runs in the second to tie the game. He allowed four singles in the inning, and was just not missing any bats until the last pitch of the inning. In fact, López was only able to induce six swing-and-misses throughout the game. The slider led the way but the fastball only got one — and that usually means a bad day at the office for López.

For a while, the Sox didn’t do anything offensively, as Berríos looked great. It was not until the ninth when the Sox got back on the board but meanwhile, the Twins took the lead and added to it. López left with five runs allowed in what was another dud of a start, but in fairness two runs scored on a very weird single.

López only struck out two batters the entire game and allowed 11 to reach base. He was not as bad as his previous start, but López’s season has come with so much frustration.

The bullpen, surprisingly, did very well. Jace Fry came in and allowed the last hit for the Twins but finished out the sixth inning. Jimmy Cordero replaced him and continues to look fantastic. His change looked very good and the sinker had some giddyup. Kelvin Herrera ended the game for Sox pitchers, and it was one of his few good appearances of the year as he struck out two in the eighth. Herrera now had a 6.75 ERA on the year, as he’s probably playing for a 2020 roster spot down the stretch.

The game did end on a high note, though! Eloy Jiménez, who is leading AL rookies in homers, cranked his 28th of the season in the ninth off Sergio Romo.

At this point of the season, it is more important for a few players to do well instead of the team — or at least maybe we just tell ourselves that. Eloy hit a homer, Moncada had two hits, Abreu got another RBI, and McCann hit a homer, too.

So even if the team isn’t good, some guys did well! — White Sox baseball 2019.

Minnesota singles cruise sinks Cease; Twins sweep Sox, 10-5

“All the Single Base Hits: Now put your bats up!” (Dylan Cease Remix feat. Beyoncé & Weird Al Yankovic) (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


In the seventh and final game of this homestand hosting both former Washington Senators clubs, Dylan Cease got a introduction to Ozzie Guillén’s nemesis “Los Pirañas,” who jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead, and the Senators Ver. 1.0 swept the Southside Nine by a score of 10-5.

The Twins, bored of bashing homers and clubbing opponents into submission, decided to torture poor Cease by flipping the script, starting the game with five consecutive singles and jumping out to an early 2-0 lead. Cease nearly got out of the jam by pulling a Buehrle and snagging a Jake Cave ground ball between his legs, pirouetting, and doing this:

Unfortunately, the Sox needed one more out to stop the bleeding and up came C. J. Cron to deliver (what else?) a single to center field, and the Good Guys were down 4-0 before José Berríos had a chance to teach Dylan a thing or two.

Cease picked up where he left off in the second inning, giving up single number seven, then a walk (Twins fatigue from all those swings I guess), and then Mighty Nelson Cruz bowed his neck and SMASHED poked a grounder up the box which Dylan graciously deflected past Yolmer into center field for a two-run (all together now…) single, the eighth consecutive to start the game.

Suddenly realizing they were dragging this game along, the Twins returned to form and led off the third inning with back-to-back jacks from the Law Offices of Cron & Cave (You Need My Mang!) and Ricky finally got the hint and pulled Dylan from the first complete butt-whooping of his Sox career. It was the first time this year that Cease did not stay in the game for at least five innings.

The Good Guys offense (yeah, they were allowed to hit in-between the downpour of singles) was not much to write about for the first four innings. Two frames ended on double plays, in addition to squandering a runners-on-second-and-third-base opportunity in the fourth inning — as Berríos struck out Yoán Moncada and James McCann to end the threat.

Finally, in the fifth, Chicago got to see the Berríos that got roughed up by the Detroit Tigers. The Sox led off with three straight hits resulting in a Yolmer Sánchez single that cut the lead to 9-1 Twins (baby steps, OK?)

The feeling’s mutual, Yolmer!

However, the South Siders’ crippling lack of depth arrived as Adam Engel (strikeout), Leury García (fielder’s choice, catching Yolmer in a pickle), and Goins (4-3 GO) could not keep the line moving despite some #WILDPITCHOFFENSE chipping the lead further, to 9-2.

Despite the wonderfully refreshing optimism on the gamethread exuding from my colleague Ashley Sanders, the rest of the game flowed as blowouts often do: Jimmy “Gun Show” Cordero pitches (👎🏽), Eloy RBI single (!), Cave homers (again), Hector Santiago reminds the Sox why he was available for the third time (3 IP, 1 HR, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K), Goins hits the third inning-ending double play for the Sox, singles were hit by both teams, Jorge Polanco played the role of the absent Tim Anderson and booted two grounders in the ninth inning, and mercifully, the Sox committed the final three outs necessary to end a regulation length, nine-inning game, losing to the Twins 10-5.


Woof. That was as they say in the business: “A Rough One”. In a direct rebuke of the Year of the Long Ball, there were a whopping 28 combined hits and (whips out my old TI-83 calculator) 21 SINGLES in this game. The Sox get minor kudos for at least putting up a fight, scaring this writer into thinking a flood of ninth-inning runs would have scrapped this whole recap entirely.

But, a sweep is what the Sox deserved today and it’s probably for the best that they skip town for a while. By the time the team returns next Friday, the Bears will (hopefully) be 1-0 and (mega, super duper hopefully) a certain Cuban outfielder will come back with the Sox as well. The Sox fall to 60-73 and the Twins keep pace with Cleveland and go to 82-51.

Thanks again, and we will see you back here at South Side Hit Pen for tomorrow night’s tilt against the Atlanta Braves! Game time is 6:05 PM CT, and Janice Scurio will provide more great Sox coverage for you and the kids.

As Douglas Adams so beautifully wrote:

Don’t Panic.

Gamethread: Twins at White Sox (Getaway Day Edition)

(@WhiteSox)


Happy Getaway Day!!

Before the Sox hop on a charter flight to the ATL, Dylan Cease will take his electric arm and do battle against the vaunted Twins lineup for the second time at Guaranteed Rate Field. In his last two starts, Cease has 15 strikeouts against two walks in 11 innings pitched.

Dylan’s last outing versus the Rangers was the best of his young Sox career, with a pretty line of 6 IP/4 H/3 ER/1 BB/9 K and a career-high game score of 60! Since this is a school night, Dylan’s mom wants him in before the street lights come on, so Ricky obliged and Dylan will make his seventh day game start out of 10 appearances this season.

On the hill for the Twinkies is José Berrios (10-7, 3.53 ERA), facing the Sox for the fourth time in 2019. So far he is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA and 3.75 FIP in three starts (out of 13 runs he’s given up, only five have been earned). The 17/1 K-to-BB ratio shows the Sox have relied on poor defense behind José to account for the majority of their success against him this season.

However, the month of August has not been kind to Jose, as he’s 0-2 in four starts. His last two appearances were abysmal performances to the Rangers and then the Tigers (?) at home (?!). Maybe the Sox will have caught Berrios at the right time and he can get an early start on setting his playlist for the Twins flight after the game.


Lineups!

Will the Sox be able to avoid getting swept as a heavy underdog? Let’s find out together, shall we?! You can find the TV broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago or if the soothing tones of Farmio and DJ are your thing, set your radio dial to WGN 720 AM. Game time is 1:10 PM.

Yours truly will be back after the game with a followed-by-MLB-AtBat-from-work recap! Go White Sox! #FreeLuisRobert!

Six Pack of Stats: Twins 8, White Sox 2

Early turning point: The White Sox’s chances were never favorable after Jonathan Schoop’s first home run. (FanGraphs)


The White Sox lost their second straight game to the AL Central leaders. Let’s take a look at some numbers from tonight’s loss.

.091

The White Sox were just 1-for-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position. José Abreu, king of timely hitting and RBIs, got the only hit in those situations, which was a double in the first. Teams that only manage one hit with runners in scoring position generally do not fare well, which was the case tonight.

2

The White Sox issued two intentional walks early on in this game (one in the third and one in the fourth). Neither of those hitters came around to score, but very seldom is it a smart idea to give an opponent a free baserunner.

5

As a result of Tim Anderson’s 24th error of the season, the Twins scored their fifth run of the game to take a 5-1 lead. Anderson has now made five more errors than anyone else in the majors this season. Errors can be a misleading statistic, and shortstops see a ton of action, but needless to say, that is still not a distinction we want to see him have.

28.4

The biggest play in this game in terms of win probability added was the three-run homer by Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop. That home run, which came with two outs in the second, increased the Twins’ odds of winning the game from 38.8% to 67.2%, a difference of 28.4 percentage points.

106.25

The White Sox got two doubles in the first inning to grab an early lead. Leury García led off with a sharp liner that left the bat at 103.2 mph, and two batters later, Abreu hit one even harder (109.3 mph) to drive home the game’s first run. The average exit velocity on these doubles was 106.25 mph.

3,960

Tomorrow’s starter for the White Sox will be Dylan Cease, who has allowed eleven home runs in nine career major league starts. The players who hit those homers totaled 3,960 feet rounding the bases. Cease has allowed at least one home run in all of his starts, which is a trend that he will hopefully break tomorrow afternoon.

Twins use the long ball to top White Sox, 8-2

Breaking the ice: José Abreu drove in the first run of the game with a double in the first inning. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


Chicago fell behind in the second inning and could not claw their way back in a tough, 8-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

However, the White Sox’s offense got off to a strong start tonight against Twins starter Jake Odorizzi. Leury García and José Abreu both hit doubles in the first inning, as the White Sox got on the board first. Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived, as the Twins responded in the top of the second.

After a Kansas City Special by Eddie Rosario and a sharply-hit single by Ehire Adrianza, the Twins had two on with two away. Jonathan Schoop got a 1-1 cutter to his liking, and he launched it 403 feet to give the Twins a 3-1 lead. As bad as that inning was, though, it could have been worse without this excellent catch by García.

The Twins tacked on a couple more in the third inning. Still leading 3-1, they loaded the bases with nobody out after a hit by pitch, a double, and an intentional walk (come on, Ricky). After an RBI force out off the bat of Eddie Rosario, the Twins expanded their lead to three. The next hitter, Miguel Sanó, reached base on a fielding error by Tim Anderson, his MLB-leading 24th error of the season. Due to the error, the Twins led, 5-1.

In the fourth, the White Sox had a great scoring opportunity. After Yoán Moncada and Anderson singled, Eloy Jiménez drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases with only one out. However, the White Sox could only push one across, as Matt Skole grounded into a force out to drive in Moncada, but Welington Castillo struck out to end the inning.

The score remained 5-2 until the top of the eighth, when Schoop went deep off reliever Jace Fry for his second homer of the day. Schoop made a 10-foot improvement on his first home run, this time smashing a 413-footer. Fry’s day only got worse, as the next batter, Jake Cave, doubled. Then, Mitch Garver hit a two-run homer to put the game out of hand. After Garver’s 443-footer, the Twins led by a score of 8-2. The runs that scored on the Garver home run were the last two that scored for either side.

The Twins improved to 81-51, while the White Sox fell to 60-72. The White Sox will wrap up this three-game series against the Twins tomorrow afternoon. That game will start at 1:10 CST, NBC Sports Chicago will televise it and WGN 720 will have your radio coverage. Dylan Cease is the White Sox’s probable starter, and Lenny Gore will have your coverage here on SSHP. Let’s end the series on a high note.

Twins beat White Sox 3-1; Giolito works quality start

Normally: Two runs over six innings would put a pitcher in line for a win. Not tonight. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito was not as brilliant as he was last week against the Minnesota Twins.

But he certainly did enough to put the Chicago White Sox in a winning position tonight.

Giolito followed up his shutout of the Twins with a six-inning performance tonight. He gave up just two solo home runs, to Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Schoop in the second inning.

That was it. The White Sox bats were stone cold, resulting in a 3-1 loss.

Minnesota is at the top of the league in just about every offensive category, so Giolito’s recent run against these Twinkies is impressive. Giolito also notched his 200th strikeout of the year. It’s truly amazing how far he has come in such a short time. Congrats, Lucas!

What about the offense? Not a lot there tonight.

Tim Anderson hit a solo shot off Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda in the fourth inning.

Matt Skole pinch-hit for Adam Engel in bottom of the seventh and chased ball four on a 3-2 count. Twins’ reliever Tyler Duffey got some good late movement on the pitch, but Skole reaching would have been nice, especially because two runners were on. Leury García lined out one batter later.

Josh Osich entered the game after Evan Marshall got the first out of the eighth inning and gave up a single. That was the only hitter Osich faced tonight. In came Kelvin Herrera, who coughed up that inherited run on an Eddie Rosario single up the middle.

The White Sox bats would go quietly the rest of the way. Sergio Romo went 1-2-3 in the eighth, and Taylor Rogers did the same in the ninth.

You can file this one away under “Good Signs for 2020.” The Sox have played a good amount of close games this year, thanks to progressions from players who will be around for a long time (hopefully).

Jason Benetti and Steve Stone had some good conversations tonight about the future — when they weren’t dodging foul balls in the booth. They said at this point next year, there is a good chance you’ll see Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodón in the starting rotation. That’s not bad, and that’s without any free agent signing (insert Rick Hahn joke here).

That talk certainly keeps me listening until the end, and hopefully it does for other Sox fans.

Ross Detwiler gets the start for the Sox tomorrow, while Jake Odirizzi starts for the Twins. Joe Resis is on the SSHP coverage.

Six Pack of Stats: Twins 3, White Sox 1

As they say in baseball: Let’s do that baseball! (FanGraphs)


There’s a throwaway gag in Family Guy, where Peter and Lois go to a drive-in movie theater (in a tank, because why not) and watch “The Even Couple” starring Jeff Daniels and Bill Pullman, two mild mannered, evenly tempered actors who you could probably interchange in literally every movie they’ve been in and not notice. This Sox/Twins “thriller” was pretty much like this bit. Two teams performed functional baseball, gave workman-like, professional efforts, and had some moments that moved the needle ever so slightly towards: Meh. Anyway! Here’s your Six Pack of Stats! (brought to you by the number 6)

1+1+1+1+1+1

Both the Twins and White Sox offenses were relatively quiet for most of the night. The Sox could only muster six hits all night. Five singles sprinkled throughout, and one BIG FLY from our very own Tim Anderson that made the game 2-1 in the fourth inning.

Inner-half fastballs don’t usually get hit 400 feet to right center, but (Dr. Malcolm from Jurassic Park voice) Tim … uh … finds a way.

The Twins also had six singles, however the remaining two hits they got were solo homers off of Giolito in the second inning, which ended up being enough tonight!

203

The number of strikeouts for Lucas Giolito so far in the 2019 season, which for those counting at home, makes this the first 200-plus strikeout season of his career. The soon to be AL Cy-Young vote getter didn’t duplicate his dominant performance from last week, but a quality start and nine K’s make for a fine effort.

6th

With his 200-plus K season, Lucas Giolito became the sixth pitcher in franchise history to achieve this feat! The number of 200-plus K pitchers/convicted drug kingpins on this list remains at one, however.

Six feet

That’s how far Steve Stone’s loved ones would have buried him underground had this fifth inning foul ball off the bat of Twins batter Mitch Garver shot into the Sox TV broadcast booth a few inches lower than it did. Thankfully for him (and not so much for NBC Sports Chicago) the monitor just behind his noggin caught the brunt of the damage. Rob Manfred immediately called for the installation of nets to cover all broadcast booths.

.666

The game batting average for one Yolmer Sánchez, who went 2-3 and despite them only being singles, had the highest WPA of all Sox players for the game at .118. (The second single came with one out in the seventh inning, which was the only time the Sox had a man in scoring position with fewer than two out.) Naturally, Matt Skole pinch hit struck out and Leury lined out to Sano to end the last Sox offensive threat of the night.

Y-E-L-I-C-H

Let’s make up for the fact that the last stat was barely worth mentioning, but again, not much exciting happened in this game, one that mattered way more to the Twins than the Sox. So I will instead recognize the reigning NL MVP (and six-letter surnamed) Christian Yelich, who was involved in a one-sided twitter owning of some random troll. Yelly will be featured in ESPN’s The Body Issue and some of his tasteful nudes popped up on Twitter (sorry ladies and gents, no peeks at his Wonderbat) and some random Twitter-MAGAbot named @RoxaneJ77 who claimed to be sad in a now-protected tweet because Yelich “didn’t give a thought about all the kids that idolize him before doing his naked photo shoot.”

Yelich responded simply with a two-worded tweet: “Relax Roxane.”

But did our hero let bygones be bygones? NO, dear reader, he most certainly did not, and owned this troll into an early Twitter grave by doing this:

#RIPRoxane

Giolito, super neato: 4-0, Sox

Dodgeball: The White Sox ace alternated between knee-buckling changeups and steamroller heat. (@Chisox)


No question which starting pitcher dominated today.

That’s Cool Hand Lucas to you, sir.

Lucas Giolito was masterful today, from starting out by getting nemesis Max Kepler to pop up, to ending by striking out super-nemesis Nelson Cruz, Cool Hand Lucas separated the Twins from their bats all afternoon, giving the Chicago White Sox a 4-0 win and the rubber game of their three-game series at the Minnesota Twins.

Gioilito went all the way on 115 pitches, 82 of them strikes, 24 of those swing-and-misses. He struck out 12, walked none and gave up only a bunt single to Jorge Polanco in the first, a 117 mph line shot single to Cruz in the fourth and a double to Jonathan Schoop in the eighth. His fastball sat 94ish, going up as the game went on and hitting a top at 96.8 mph, and the changeup did just what it was supposed to do.

Lucas only needed one big defensive play, delivered by Adam Engel.

Engel gets the angle on Cruz’s 117 mph shot.

As for the offense — well, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. The hardest-hit balls of the day were by the Twins, and the hardest hit balls by the Sox only figured in one run, but gifts and seeing-eye dribblers and bloops were enough for the win.

The Sox scored two off Jake Odirizzi in the first on a Leury García single, an error by Jorge Polanco when he didn’t step on second on what should have been a Tim Anderson force out, a weak José Abreu grounder in the hole for a single, a wild pitch (one of three by Twins pitchers), and a Matt Skole excuse-me bloop to short right. The hardest-hit ball of the inning was an Eloy Jiménez double-play ball to end the inning.

The third run came in the third on consecutive singles by García, Anderson and Abreu, Abreu’s a pop-up that fell among three fielders. No. 4 involved the best of José’s three hits, a leadoff double in the fifth which led to him scoring on a wild pitch.

Anderson had two hits, keeping up his amazing recent streak, and Leury hit two singles as well. In true Sox fashion, the team did manage 11 Ks vs. two walks.

But the day belonged to Cool Hand Lucas, who ended it this way:

Nemesis de-nemesized.

The Sox now head home and start a four-game series against the Texas Rangers tomorrow night. Some sort of crazy amalgamation of Lauren Wilner and Leonard Gore prose, and Janice Scurio and Cat Garcia tweets, will provide the SSHP coverage.