A few days ago, I got an email from one of the many gambling joints that email me from time to time. I don’t know why they email me, because I have never placed a sports bet in my life.
OK, that might not be entirely true; maybe 20 years ago I was workplace-pressured into getting one of those Super Bowl squares. I think I got “15,” which I think is a pretty terrible one to get? No matter, I have less than zero interest in the NFL or the Super Bowl anyway.
But I do look at these emails, for after all, there may be something in there to write about, like suddenly bettors think José Abreu is 3-to-1 to win the MVP, or Ricky is the top hot seat manager, or some such. And one item did catch my eye: The White Sox, over/under 72.5 wins in February, improved to just 73.5 over/under wins heading into the second half. (Don’t quote me, I’m 98.5% this was the play, but I’m not gonna go look that email up and I’m not gonna give those gambling jackals any juice here, sorry to offend any of the many South Side Sox bettors, it’s just not a good look above the fold, methinks.)
This struck me as easy money. The team was 42-44 (.488), on pace for 79 wins. The team would have to go 31-45 in the second to fail to hit 74 wins.
But with today’s 13-2 massacree at the hands of the Oakland Athletics, the White Sox are 0-2 (.000) in the second half. With just a slightly bastardized view of how the next three months play out, that is a 0-76 (.000) pace, and at that pace, indeed, the White Sox will fail to attain 74 wins.
Now, if you consider this an introduction to an actual game story, then we are eluding the permission granted by the estimable bangkokhoosier to bang this gamer. But, you know, The Eyes of SB Nation Are Upon Us, and they tend to frown on that sorta thing.
So, gamer it is, unsavory though it may be. Even Robby the Recapper bailed on this one.
Per something called Power Rankings Guru, to date the White Sox strength of schedule ranks 25th in all of baseball. That’s an uptick from the 30th it was running well into June, before the Yankees-Cubs-Rangers-Red Sox-Twins gauntlet the South Siders ran through (rather successfully, yeah) before the All-Star break.
From here, consulting multiple sources and methodologies, it looks like the White Sox have the 19th- or 20th-toughest schedule remaining. It’s the hardest left in the AL Central, although that’s just by a fraction. It’s right in the middle among American League teams.
So, while that’s not terrible news, it’s certainly going to be a rougher slog the rest of the way for our South Siders. For a team with about 26% of an actual pitching rotation, no DH, little defensive outfield, slightly more offensive outfield, an injured breakout shortstop who’s taken a slight step back defensively, no second sacker of note, I’m going to be honest — I’m nervous.
Months ago, the so-called SSS experts predicted the 2019 season. And yeah, I was rough on the Sox, tabbing them for just 69 wins. I’m no math whiz, but it seems highly likely they will break that mark. (On the other hand, I nailed the “breakout player” category with my pick of Carlos Rod— wait, that’s not what “breakout player” means? Uh ...)
And I’ll be the first to admit I have not been a Rickyliever, as he has managed to take two terrible White Sox teams in 2017 and 2018 and still manage to underperform expectations. This year, credit due, and praise ceviche: Renteria has been dy-no-mite. Per Leigh Allan’s piece focusing on Ricky at the halfway mark of 2019, he’s been worth something like four or five wins already this season — at that pace he will erase his 2017-18 terribleness in one swoop.
But while I am not in any way rooting for Ricky and the White Sox to fall to Earth, it is only fair to point out their run differential is somewhere in the neighborhood of -889, and the team’s Pythagorean (run differential) record says the Chisox should be six games worse. That is a tall order to continue outperforming, especially with basically no above-average strength on the team save, perhaps, for bullpen.
Anyway, I’ve successfully gotten everyone, not just the cool hipsters among you, to root for Robby the Recapper to get another shot at this, STAT. There was, in fact, a game today, and it was godawful.
- Dylan Covey returned from his Charlotte rehab assignment, and his two-thirds of an inning, four hits, six earned, two walks, game score -152 (estimated) was enough to send many fans into rehab. I mean, we’ve heard hide nor hair of brother Darren Jackson, and we last left him on an airplane with engine trouble, and I’m wondering if he’d rather have been entering his third straight day stuck on a tarmac incommunicado rather than witnessing this debacle from his beloved.
- Seriously, Covey’s game score was 13, which is the third-worst of his career (41 starts).
- The pitching staff threw more walks (eight) than strikeouts (five).
- With the score TWELVE-NOTHING, Renteria found a reason to burn his two best relievers, Aaron Bummer and Alex Colomé, for an inning apiece.
- The White Sox had zero extra-base hits for the second straight game (aka the entirety of the second half).
- Eloy Jiménez was tagged for his first error of the season, which is notable only because you just read that and made a note to look up Jiménez’s stats RIGHT NOW to write a comment about how wrong I am that Eloy Jiménez could possibly have had zero errors to this point in the season.
- The White Sox were 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position, which is another gotcha moment for you, because you’re like, “c’mon now, .250 ain’t bad for RISP” until it hits you that good goddang the White Sox had just four runners in scoring position in a start by Chris Bassitt.
- Today’s attendance was 22,222, which sounds great except that number is clearly made up, and not even very creatively so, so look out on Sunday when Oakland goes for the sweep in front of, oh, 33,333.
All right, I managed more than 1,000 words writing on probably the worst game of the season, although I well realize there is some heady competition from even the fizzy lifting drink that was the first half of 2019. So I’ll cut it off before I hit 2,000.
Tomorrow, the White Sox seek to avoid approximately their 88th sweep in Oakland this century by sending out Reynaldo López, and while I don’t want to issue a spoiler alert, he is facing Brett Anderson, whose ERA is nearly half of López’s. However, the effervescent Ashley Sanders is on the game coverage, so it’s a safe bet that win or lose, you won’t get a gamer as grizzled as this one.
So, say a little prayer for Reynaldo, and the most courageous among you should go ahead and tune in at 3:07 p.m. on WGN or WGN to see how it all wrangles out.