Tim Anderson extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double on Thursday, but he couldn’t extend his walk streak to three games. He had an opportunity in the first against Danny Salazar, but he couldn’t lay off a 3-2 pitch in the dirt. He took a similar pitch on 1-1, but it’s going to be a process.
Dan Hayes asked Anderson himself about the recent stretch of patience we talked about on Thursday morning, and he said exposure is the leading reason:
"It’s a lot easier," Anderson said. "You’re seeing the pitchers more than once. You kind of figure them out and know what they’re going to do to you and kind of know how they’re going to pitch you in an at-bat, certain pitches. It’s really good, really helpful.
"I have more of a plan now and I’ve been laying off a lot of pitches and getting a good pitch to hit and being patient."
(He also noticed that he drew five pitches out of the zone against Cody Allen: "I feel like the 3-1 pitch was a little outside so I kind of walked twice there.")
Exposure isn’t working so well for Chris Sale, at least according to Robin Ventura. Neither party involved showed particular concern regarding Sale’s recent malaise — six winless starts, 4.43 ERA -- but Ventura made the only attempt at doing so:
"It’s a little tougher with technology that’s out there to kind of pick somebody apart,’’ Ventura said, "whether it’s counts, what pitches they’re throwing, watching video, head-to-head [familiarity]. And it’s hard. That’s the difficult part of [even the best pitchers] sustaining that for so long.’’
Which seems like a prefab answer, and one that’s ironic considering the White Sox’ struggles with certain pitchers over several years (not to mention following a start against the arch-rival Marlins).
It’s not a quote worth parsing, though — I just wanted a segue from the Anderson section.
Both Sale and Ventura still stand by Sale’s revised approach to pitching, with Ventura saying that he hasn’t needed the breather that has cost him missed starts in previous years. That much is true in some regards. He hasn’t had the start or two with noticeably down velocity, and he’s on pace to throw a career-high 216 innings, even though he missed a start due to his one-man riot.
That said, it’d barely eke past his previous high of 214, which was attained in a season when he made only 30 starts, so it’s not like he’s discovered the secret to unprecedented in-start endurance.
There’s been something miffing about Sale’s season. More accurately, there’s something miffing about the way Sale’s season has been presented, because it’s been a very good season if you can ignore the marketing. There’s just always a "wait, but..." counterpoint for every supposed benefit, especially after his great ERA and win-loss record took a step or two back to match his good-but-not great peripherals. And there still hasn’t been an adequate explanation for throwing far fewer changeups.
It’s possible that he felt like he couldn’t sustain a 270-strikeout approach for another season, and a conscious decision to expect more contact makes it easier to transition into a post-physical-peak era (Justin Verlander ran into this problem in 2014), as well as get ahead of questions about what's wrong.
A strong September might provide the most concrete evidence in favor of this shift in his approach, as he’s had a history of rocky finishes. Then again, so have the White Sox, which supports the idea that he’s a product of his environment.
Hawk Harrelson missed the first two road series of a nine-game road trip due to health problems. We could hear how the virus affected him in Detroit, but then he had to go to the hospital to treat a form of heart arrhythmia.
Assuming there aren’t any further complications or unrelated issues, Harrelson said he wants to continue the half-season arrangement.
Harrelson said several fellow broadcasters encouraged him to cut back his schedule in the past, and he now thinks they were right. He has "really enjoyed" the extra time with his children and grandchildren while still working half the season in the booth. [...]
"I tell you what, I wish I had done it when Jerry wanted me to at first a couple of years ago," Harrelson said. "The season has just flown by. I've never seen anything like it. Here we are, almost in September, and it's unbelievable. … The only thing I really feel bad about is I thought we were going to be really good this year, and I was looking forward to it because I would have stayed for the playoffs."
Setting aside the last sentence because I’m not sure what it means (I’d love to hear Hawk on a national broadcast), I think the White Sox TV broadcasts have found equilibrium after letting it fester for several years too many. I hoped/expected that the reduced schedule would allow Harrelson to bring more energy to the booth, but that was undercut by the bad habits he’d formed over the last few years, and Steve Stone gave up on trying to salvage the games, too.
So far, both of them have sustained their "interact more" mantra after their heart-to-heart a few weeks ago, and the result is more what I expected at the start of the season. Hell, Harrelson sounded better with an awful virus this year than he did when healthy in 2015. Harrelson still has dead horses that make me roll my eyes, but as long as he spends more time remarking on the things happening in front of him, the concentration is much easier to digest. This version of Harrelson generates broadcasts that offer ideas the Jason Benetti broadcasts can’t, and Sox fans may be better served for the variety from here on out. Ideally, fewer things in this organization will need mulligans.