Six Pack of Stats: White Sox 7, Cleveland 1

Pitching and Offense: It all came together in a terrific afternoon ballgame that resulted in a series split with Cleveland. (FanGraphs)

Masterful pitching and flaming bats spark a series-split afternoon victory

Last night’s late-innings offense, which was beautifully complemented by an outstanding pitching performance by Reynaldo López, carried over into this early afternoon’s ballgame! With that wonderful combination, the Chicago White Sox split the series against Cleveland!

1

First and foremost, ReyLo only gave up one hit in his complete-game performance! Can we please acknowledge how incredible Reynaldo has been for the second-half of the season!? It’s utter insanity, but I am totally here for it. Keep it up, ReyLo!

3

With his first complete game of the season, López joins Lucas Giolito and Iván Nova as the third White Sox pitcher to throw a complete game in the 2019 season. Funnily enough, it’s a cool 3-2-1 sequence with Gio, Nova, and ReyLo in the quantity of nine-inning games pitched, respectively.

7

For the Sox’s hitting perspective, the Good Guys put up seven runs on the board, and seven guys recorded hits to make that run total possible. Surprisingly enough, Welington Castillo and Adam Engel accounted for five of the seven RBIs. Unsurprisingly, Yolmer Sánchez had the other two RBIs. 🙂

12

The seven runs scored were based off of 12 hits. This offense can be all-or-nothing at times, like our neuron’s action potential, but it sure is fun to watch when the offensive is producing big like this!

22

With 22 games left of the season, this team has the (action) potential to do something great and to keep it interesting for the team and the fans; let’s hope that it happens!

62

The South Siders have accumulated 62 wins, and if they could get to 75, that would definitely be something to end the season with this year. It’s a long-shot goal, but it’s possible.

Gamethread: White Sox at Cleveland

Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen

After an exciting but ultimately disappointing finish last night (if you missed it, Janice has got you covered with a recap. The White Sox are looking to bounce back and split this series with the Tribe and push them behind Oakland and out of Wild Card contention.

Reynaldo López has the honors for the Good Guys, and he’s looking to redeem an ugly performance against the Braves where he was unable to make it out of the first inning. Danny Mendick will make his first start at third today, with Moncada as the DH.

Rookie Zach Plesac will toe the rubber for the Tribe, and his one previous outing against the White Sox handed him his first career loss as Tim Anderson launched a solo shot in the fourth inning.  Hopefully Timmy can continue to haunt him and we can rock and roll our way out of Cleveland on a high note.

Starting Lineups:

Danny Mendick starting at third base might alleviate some of the suffering endured at the hands of Welington Castillo
Of course Cleveland makes us look at Franmil Reyes and relive the sting of last night’s home run – you’ll have to click to expand to see their lineup.

The game is on NBCSN/ WGN 720, and out of market fans can catch it on MLB Network.

Check back after the game as I summarize a comedy of errors the happenings at Progressive Field and bring you a much-hyped video of my dog.

Gamethread: White Sox at Braves

On a hot streak: ReyLo is looking to bring the heat against the hottest N.L. East team. (Clinton Cole / South Side Hit Pen)

Though the Chicago White Sox couldn’t outpitch the Atlanta Braves, the offense lived up to their end of the bargain. Scoring seven runs, the bats of the South Siders were heated up down South. Unfortunately, Iván Nova was plagued by his worst start as of late.

Luckily, baseball is a short-memory game, so as John Mulaney once said, “What’s yesterday?”

Today, Reynaldo López will try to help his team even the series in this weekend’s interleague play. This Rey of sunshine has had quite the second-half to the 2019 season. As a total of the halves, Reynaldo owns a 8-11 record, as well as a 5.08 ERA. López has also amounted an 0.8 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. Look for ReyLo to keep it rolling!

The former Houston Astro and late-to-the-2019-season, Dallas Keuchel, is 5-5 on the season, and he owns a 3.78 ERA. In only 13 games played this season, Keuchel has been worth 1.4 bWAR. Hopefully, the Sox can take advantage of Keuchel’s short 2019 season.

These are the South Siders tasked to get the job done tonight:

After his pinch-hit, three-run home run — Welington Castillo is tonight’s starting catcher, batting sixth. Other than that, the first five guys are the eyes of the future.

For Atlanta, their offensive-burst of a lineup is as follows:

This rejuvenated lineup is one to worry about during this series. After a ten-run party last night, these guys are aiming for a repeat.

I say we make things a little interesting and tie the series before a fun Sunday night game! NBC Sports Chicago will provide your Chicagoland TV broadcast, but MLB.TV will have tonight’s game as the free game of the day! As always, the ol’ faithful, WGN, has the radio coverage. It’s a 6:20 CT start, and I am itching to bring out the sunglasses emoji!

Who is Reynaldo López?

It’s time: The young righthander has shown flashes of brilliance, but needs to tighten up his out pitches to anchor himself in the future White Sox rotation. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


The story of Reynaldo López’s 2019 season seems to be nearing a three-part act. This first half of the season, which totaled 98 innings, was beyond a disaster. Among qualified pitchers by the All-Star break (78 pitchers), López had the worst FIP in MLB at 5.79, the worst HR/9 given up, and a laughably low ground ball rate to go with it. In other words, he looked like a bust and there were a lot of these type of videos every outing:

Reynaldo López, not doing real well in the first half of the season.

After turning in his last start of the first half, López vowed to be better. Fans mostly scoffed because whenever he did show the potential we all know he has, López would revert back to the pitcher some started to think belonged in the bullpen. But then, López backed up that talk and he looked like an actual starting pitcher, like the guy who was good down the stretch in 2018, with a multitude of devastating strikeouts like this:

López was cruising through six starts of fantastic baseball. He wasn’t allowing home runs — just one in 38 innings — to go along with a 2.87 FIP. He had the fifth-best fWAR over that six-start span, with 1.3. Everything was working, and I mean everything.

The fastball gained a little over one mph in velocity, and López was much more crisp with his location. Though not perfect, it was much better than the first half of the season.

López’s fastball placement to righties: first half of the year on the left, from July 14-August 10 on the right.

The heat map above and below is a pretty good indicator of López’s success because he so heavily relies on the fastball. Over the year, he has used his four-seam 57.6% of the time per Baseball Savant. Against righties, as you can see above, López was leaving his fastball in probably the worst possible place — right in the middle of the zone — and that played a part in his dramatic increase in home runs allowed. During his stretch of great pitching, you can see that López’s fastball location against righties started to move inside and a little up. Now, there are still too many fastballs in the heart of the zone, and that location does not allow many ground balls, but the move inside clearly was working.

López’s fastball placement to lefties: first half of the year on the left, from July 14-August 10 on the right.

Against lefties, the fastball has been immensely more crisp as it falls in the top of the zone. Again, that’s not really good placement to induce ground balls, but it is a much harder to hit fastball than what López was throwing in the first half. Also, again, the placement is moving more up and in; not perfect, but the fastball was devastating over that six-game stretch with the new and better zone placement. Using Pitch Info, López accumulated a 4.5 value rating with his fastball, seventh-best in MLB over that stretch.

But it’s not really all about the fastball, even if Reylo seems to want it to be, all the time. In fact, in order for Reynaldo López to be successful he needs to execute and be confident in his change and slider.

Both pitches are important in different ways. López uses the slider predominantly against right-handed batters and the change (with a curve sprinkled in) against lefties. Unfortunately, the slider that López really developed and learned to handle last year was not being duplicated in the first half of 2019. The change, which was López’s worst-rated pitch coming up in the minors, also took a huge dive during the first half of the year. So in effect, Lopez did not have his “out” pitches against both sides of the plate for the first half, for the most part (yes, there was that one 14-strikeout game, where everything clicked).

Because López uses the slider mostly against right-handed batters, if it isn’t on, he will struggle mightily against them. The same thing happens with the change against lefties, and that failure of his out pitches has led to his inconsistent season. When a changeup or slider isn’t good that day, López’s fastball usage skyrockets, which means more well-hit baseballs and more runs allowed.

So far in the second half, López has been much better, but he is still showing that he is far away from being a top-of-the-rotation starter.

López’s first three games out of the break was the best stretch of pitching since last season. Why was it so good? Well, the fastball location we already discussed played a huge part, but the change and the slider also were fantastic. Using Pitch Info’s value statistic, López’s change and slider were positively rated in each game. That success with both pitches led to a 2.16 FIP and 3.06 xFIP over those 21 innings.

The next three starts, though still good and much better compared to López’s pre-July starts, were inconsistent because the off-speed and breaking pitches were not simultaneously good during the same start. One day, the change was great and López was confident in it, so he was much better against lefties that day — but the slider was bad or he was just not using it, so right-handed batters got to him, and vice-versa when the slider was good and the change was bad.

However, because at least one of his out pitches were good, López had good results. He had a 2.65 ERA from July 30 to August 10, but a peripheral stat “saw” a problem during that stretch, with a 6.19 xFIP.

That xFIP spelled doom, and over a two-start stretch from August 15-20, López reverted back to what he was in the first half of this season: bad. His FIP was 5.85, and he had an ERA at 6.35 (that should have been worse because of four unearned runs) over those two starts. The change was awful in the first start, and the slider did not have a positive impact. In the second start, López’s change was better, but the curveball (the other pitch López uses against lefties) was terrible and the slider was also bad. So for the second straight start, López got crushed because his out pitches were not working against their respective batters.

To his credit, in his last start, López did rebound nicely, sort of. He went five no-hit innings because his fastball and slider combination was working very well. However, his changeup was so bad he only used it at a 2.5% rate, so he was really only throwing a fastball against lefties. Thankfully, the four Texas Rangers left-handed batters couldn’t catch up to that fastball despite the team being able to get López into some pitch-count trouble.

What this boils down to is who is the real Reynaldo López? He has been extraordinarily inconsistent, so it is difficult to ascertain if López is making progress, or if he still is just a reliever playing starter. For the majority of this season, López has looked like a reliever, a guy who really only needs one or two pitches in any given at-bat. A starter needs at least three, and maybe even four, to be successful over six-plus innings, and Lopez hasn’t shown he has that ability besides that three-game stretch from July 14-24. Even in the three-game stretch, López still has not been able to rediscover his curve.

But there is a glimmer of hope, because of what we have seen from Lucas Giolito.

When Giolito started to look like a better pitcher last season, the velocity on all of his pitches was up. That has happened with López this season, with the additional spin rate increases over each month of the season so far. The fastball averaged 94 mph in April and has now climbed to 96.8 mph in August. The change has gone from 82.9 mph to 85.5 mph, while the slider has also increased 3.4 mph over the season. López’s changeup and slider are also moving differently in the second half, and they have been more steady as well.

Lopez’s changeup has a horizontal break that is not fluctuating as much, which gives the impression it has been more crisp and repeatable than before. That usually means López has more of a feel for it and better command.

Though not as extreme as the off-speed pitch, López’s slider also has not been fluctuating as much game-to-game in its vertical break lately. The break has also steadily gone up as well, from a -38-inch average in April to -34-inch average in August.

You can look at López in two ways after this. A positive spin is to say he is on an upswing, improving every month. The second, negative take is that it took López half a season to get where he needs to be, and he still has not reached his potential after 432 2/3 career innings.

At this point, López needs to continue this stretch of better baseball. He needs to show he can work consistently with his secondary pitches, like he has on occasion this season, and not just throw meatball fastballs like he did in the first half of 2019. He needs to better prepare himself in the offseason so it doesn’t take half the year to get good.

Thankfully, White Sox fans have already seen a worst-to-near-first turnaround in just one offseason from Giolito. Now it needs to happen with López, because the White Sox need to start winning games.

I’m sure López will be on the roster the next time the White Sox make the playoffs, but what remains to be seen is whether he is in the rotation or the bullpen.

The sky is still the limit for this fireballer, but time is starting to become an enemy instead of an ally.

No ReyLo No-No, but Sox win, 2-0

Before the storm: Reynaldo López had a no-hitter for five innings before being removed with flu-like symptoms. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


Reynaldo López fired five innings of no-hit ball before leaving today’s 2-0 win over Texas with flu-like symptoms, but he and four relievers combined on a one-hitter — no little thanks going to an injury-depleted Rangers lineup happy to swing at any pitch in the zip code. Or any 606– zip code.

Lopez didn’t seem to have his best stuff, but the Rangers, who lead the majors in strikeouts, are so swing-happy he didn’t need it. The only time López was in the slightest trouble was in the third. After two fly outs to right, the first a nice catch by Jon Jay, Jose Trevino got aboard on the first of Tim Anderson’s two errors of the day and Shin-Soo Choo walked. A Danny Santana K took care of the problem.

The sole hit surrendered in the 2-0 Sox victory was a single by Choo leading off the sixth against Aaron Bummer. That was followed by Anderson’s second boot of a routine grounder, extending his commanding lead for most errors in MLB, but Bummer recovered to get two ground outs and strikeout, sandwiched around an intentional walk that loaded the bases.

Otherwise, Bummer, Evan Marshall, Jace Fry and Alex Colomé cruised to a Players’ Weekend celebration. Texas has been a horrible team of late, but it was a fine pitching performance, regardless of opponent.

Meanwhile, the offense looked like it would sting rookie lefty Brock Burke right off the bat. Burke, pitching only his second game in the bigs, gave up a leadoff single to Leury García, hit José Abreu, walked Yoán Moncada, and faced Eloy Jiménez with the bases loaded and one out. Eloy smashed by far the hardest-hit ball of the game, a 109 mph screamer, but it was right at Elvis Andrus at short, and José was doubled off of second.

In the third, Yolmer Sánchez walked, Leury sacrificed him to second, Anderson got on on an Andrus error, and José singled Yolmer home with a shot through the left side.

That was Jose’s RBI No. 99 for 2019. It was called an earned run, the only one Burke has now given up in 12 innings with the Rangers.

An insurance run came in the seventh, when reliever Emmanuel Clase gave up a single to Adam Engel, Yolmer drew a fortunate walk after he should have been called out on strikes, García took a fastball to his ankle on a bunt attempt (X-rays are negative, he’s day-to-day), and José’s 100th RBI on a, well, not-blast:

Abreu’s fielder’s choice roller was so slow Statcast didn’t even measure it, but it did the job.

The Sox only managed five hits, two of those by Engel and none by Anderson or Sánchez, so both of their hitting streaks are de-streakified.

That’s four wins in their last five for the Sox, all five featuring excellent starting pitching. They get a day off tomorrow before the Minnesota Twins come to town for a three-game series starting Tuesday night.

Six Pack of Stats: White Sox 2, Rangers 0

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).

0

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!

100

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.

1

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.

25

With today’s save, Alex Colomé registers his 25th save in 26 opportunities. He definitely lives up to his Players’ Weekend nickname: The Horse.

.607

The South Side pitchers totaled a .607 WPA, and they were absolutely magnificent.

60

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.

Twins take down White Sox, 14-4

Forget about it: Not many good things to talk about tonight, but, uh, Tim Anderson had two hits, he is up to .331! (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


Tonight’s 14-4 Minnesota Twins blowout of the Chicago White Sox got off to a nice start for the South Siders.

No, really, it did.

White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo López shut down the first six hitters he saw, even though four of those were fly outs.

The South Siders then put up a crooked number on the board in the top of the third inning. Shortstop Tim Anderson got the party started by poking a softly hit double down the right field line to score Yolmer Sánchez.

José Abreu stayed hot (at the plate), launching his 28th home run of the year, into the right-field seats. Abreu now has 94 RBIs on the year.

López then struggled the rest of the way. The lack of missed bats early on foreshadowed some rough times.

Max Kepler hit his eighth home run this year off White Sox pitching, in the bottom of the third — this one of the two-run variety.

Nelson Cruz then said, “Why not me?” in the fourth inning and also hit his eighth home run against the Sox this year. Cruz is 39 years old, mind you, but the 1.057 OPS will certainly play at any age. He had four extra base-hits tonight (the Twins had 10, for what it’s worth).

Those are some terrifying stats to read, but those who’ve been following this team closely this year can’t be too shocked.

And then came the fifth inning (cue the dramatic music in the background). López faced Kepler with a man on first and two outs. It seemed like López would have no issues getting out of that, and, well, he would have if it weren’t for one of the strangest plays of the year.

López threw a fastball in on the hands of Kepler, who check-swinged and dribbled the ball out in front of home plate. Welington Castillo picked it up, threw to first and Abreu … just missed the catch. Went right off the end of his glove.

Not really sure how to explain what happened, other than it was a mental mistake from Abreu. Here’s how the following three at-bats fared …

HBP, double, single. Good for four (unearned) runs.

Yeah, not good. The game was lost at that point. López ended his night going six innings, giving up seven runs (three earned) on six hits. He struck out three and did not walk a hitter.

Anderson hit a solo shot in the sixth inning, but that’s all the offense would produce.

The eighth inning featured Kelvin Herrera getting shelled yet again. He went 2/3 of an inning, giving up five earned runs. Oh my.

Hector Santiago came in and gave up two earned runs of his own. Jason Benetti said in the eighth that the Sox were once up 3-0 in the game, and Steve Stone said, “Yes, when the dinosaurs roamed Earth.”

We can confirm there is a tomorrow, though. Lucas Giolito against Jake Odorizzi is a great pitching matchup. Hopefully the Sox can take the series!