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Six Pack of Stats (ALDS Game 2): Astros 9, White Sox 4

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Baffling pitching decisions cancel out comeback, bring 2-0 deficit back to Chicago.

The WPA chart actually dipped in Chicago’s favor a couple of times today!
FanGraphs

Well, that sucked.

As was the case so many times this season, the White Sox were undone only after both starting pitchers left the game. After looking completely lifeless until the late innings yesterday, the White Sox offense appeared to finally break through when they chased Framber Valdez in the fifth inning in taking a 4-2 lead. Unfortunately, when put into unnecessarily uncomfortable positions, the bullpen simply couldn’t quite clutch up in the way Lucas Giolito did for most of his four-plus innings.

Why was Giolito sent back out for the fifth? I don’t know. Why was Garrett Crochet the first reliever up after throwing 26 pitches yesterday, rather than someone fresher and with more high-leverage experience? I don’t know. If Liam Hendriks needed to pitch, why was it in a five-run game instead of a tie game, or a one-run game? I don’t know. Why is shifting still a seemingly alien concept to this coaching staff? I don’t know!

What I DO know is what the numbers say about starting pitchers Lucas Giolito and Framber Valdez, and this is what it is.


The Starters

Putting it kindly, Giolito battled through four-plus innings, though his four earned runs don’t quite reflect an inconsistent but nonetheless gutsy effort. After beginning the game with shades of his Oakland self by striking out the side in the bottom of the first, Giolito seemed to lose his command for several batters at a time, dealing with heavy traffic on the bases in the second, third, and fourth innings but emerging relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately, in spite of an inability to get hitters to chase his slider — which he threw in strike zone just once on 27 pitches — and difficulties throwing his changeup where he wanted, Giolito was tasked with retiring the top of the Astros lineup a third time in the bottom of the fifth inning. As many could have predicted, it didn’t turn out well, and he was tagged with an extra two earned runs after the baffling choice of Garrett Crochet to relieve him backfired with an additional walk and an RBI single to Yuli Gurriel.

Sitting at 95 mph, Giolito’s velocity was as high as it’s been all season, but he simply couldn’t avoid the same pitfalls that befell Lance Lynn yesterday, routinely letting patient Astros hitters work him into deep counts. and running his pitch count almost to 80 by the end of the fourth inning. Also like Lynn, he just couldn’t quite find the stuff needed to put hitters away, as reflected by each pitch’s mediocre (particularly by his standards) CSW%.

It certainly wasn’t Giolito at his best, but the White Sox could have been put out of this game a lot earlier than they were. Though Giolito was the start of the domino chain that turned a Sox lead into an Astros blowout, it’s hard to pin much of this on his shoulders.

Here are the numbers from his 90-pitch outing:

Baseball Savant

Framber Valdez largely executed his game plan for the first four innings, before the White Sox offense finally came around to executing their own plan in the fifth. Valdez entered the game as far and away the most prolific ground ball pitcher in baseball, and he pitched like it, allowing only two batted balls with a launch angle above 10 degrees — both of them Luis Robert singles. Sox hitters couldn’t do much with his curveball, with all six of Framber’s strikeouts coming on curveballs, five of them low out of the zone and one perfectly in the corner.

Still, after three innings of strikeouts and grounders, the Sox game plan finally seemed to come to fruition. Valdez had to that point managed to clutch up in a similar manner to Lance McCullers Jr. yesterday, getting deep into counts but escaping damage with double plays and strikeouts in big spots. By the fifth inning, though, the White Sox offense managed to wait him out enough to string together four or five solid hits in a row for the first time all series, chasing him from the game with two outs in the frame.

Of course, it wound up not mattering. The Giolito vs. Valdez matchup went like it was supposed to for the White Sox. Once actual decision-making become involved, well, who needs a manager anyway?

Here are the numbers on Valdez’s 69-pitch outing:

Baseball Savant

Pressure Play

Bases loaded? One out? Two-run deficit? Anecdotally, it’s hard to ratchet up the pressure higher than that, even if the 3.92 leverage index wasn’t necessarily massive. It was, however, the biggest moment of the game, and Yuli Gurriel made the most of it, tying the game in the fifth with an RBI single.


Pressure Cooker

Gurriel almost took the trifecta, but his 2.19 pLI was edged out just in the slightest by Yordan Alvarez, who was placed one higher in the batting order and scored a 2.21.


Top Play

What do you think? The above Gurriel single added 18.6% to the Astros’ win probability (.186 WPA), the single biggest addition of the game.


Top Performer

The White Sox only representation in this section comes from Luis Robert, whose three-hit day (including go-ahead and game-tying singles) earned him .33 WPA, the most of anybody on the day and a full 13% above second-place Alex Bregman.


Smackdown

Luckiest hit: The Sox did catch some breaks, but mostly in the early innings, where Tim Anderson’s third-inning single had an xBA of just .080, equal to yesterday’s winner Michael Brantley.

Toughest out: Adam Engel’s screaming line drive in the fifth inning against Valdez had a 71% hit probability. Unfortunately, Alex Bregman’s self-preservation instinct was just a little too good, reacting instantly for the catch.

Hardest hit: You think Luis Robert gets tired of showing up in this section? His 110.3 mph single against Valdez in the third give him the crown for the second consecutive game.

Weakest contact: The Martin Maldonado chopper that Ryan Tepera smoothly turned into a double play was just 55.6 mph, lowest of the game.

Longest hit: Michael Brantley’s 392-foot fly out against Giolito to start the fifth inning was clearly a sign of things to come, as well as the longest batted ball of the day.


Magic Number: 0

The White Sox have zero extra-base hits through two games against the Astros, and 18 singles. Make of that what you will, because I’m not sure I can make much.


Glossary

Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average


Poll

Who Was the White Sox Game 2 MVP?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Luis Robert (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, BB)
    (65 votes)
  • 0%
    Tim Anderson (3-for-5, R)
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    José Abreu (2-for-4, RBI, BB)
    (1 vote)
66 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who Was the White Sox Game 2 Cold Cat?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Aaron Bummer (1/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, SO)
    (40 votes)
  • 44%
    Craig Kimbrel (2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER)
    (34 votes)
  • 3%
    Yoán Moncada (0-for-4, SO, 3 LOB)
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Andrew Vaughn (1-for-4, 2 SO)
    (0 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now

South Side Sox Roll Call

Another massive playoff gamethread, this one a 779-comment behemoth with 50 different commenters, led by AnoHito and Nello Rubio in a very nice tie at 69 apiece.

baines03 speaks for most of us with today’s top comment: