Despite multiple regular starters sitting out of the second game, the White Sox took care of business in a 3-1 win over the Royals. The White Sox never trailed, and despite the Royals bringing the tying run to the plate, it always felt like a game they would come out on top. The White Sox improved to 23-14 heading into the final two games of the series.
Michael Kopech had another very good outing, in his third start of the season. He left a 4-seam fastball over the plate that Carlos Santana sent into the bleachers, and also walked a pair of batters early in the game. But overall, Kopech’s pitches had insane movement, he stranded base runners and left the game with a lead. Kopech allowed an earned run on two hits, two walks and five strikeouts in a four-inning start.
Kopech relied a little more on his curveball than slider on Friday. He only had seven whiffs, as his 24% whiff rate was significantly lower than his 2021 37% whiff rate that ranks in the 93rd percentile. However, in his two prior starts, he had a 22% whiff rate against Boston and 35% whiff rate versus the Rangers, so it’s not out of the ordinary to see him miss fewer bats.
One of the most impressive aspects of Kopech’s start was how he controlled his pitch count in the third and fourth innings. He hovered around 40 pitches after two innings, but finished with 65 pitches and a game score of 52.
Here’s a breakdown of his start:
Jakob Junis had a short night, and the White Sox took advantage for all 1 1⁄3 innings he pitched. They recorded four hard-hit balls that went for three doubles and Andrew Vaughn’s towering home run. Junis allowed two earned runs on four hits and struck out a batter.
The White Sox jumped on his poorly-placed 4-seam fastballs for two doubles and a home run. Yoán Moncada’s first-inning double came on a sinker. Adam Eaton was a couple of inches away from turning his double into a homer, and Moncada’s bat drop indicated he thought he sent the ball into the stands, too. In other words, the White Sox treated the young righthander like he was a lefty.
The White Sox had a 98.3 mph average exit velocity, which is high even for Junis, whose 92.9 mph average this season ranks in the bottom 4% of the league. He relied on his cutter more than usual, which makes sense considering the White Sox’s success against his 4-seamer. It didn’t matter, as Junis was got the hook with a game score of 26.
Here’s a breakdown of Junis’ outing:
Kelvin Gutierrez came to the plate in the top of the seventh, representing the tying run for Kansas City. He had a 2-0 count with a runner on first, but softly chopped a ground ball in front of home plate. Zack Collins made a nice play to grab the ball in fair territory and throw out Gutierrez in plenty of time. His at-bat clocked in at 2.05 LI.
No one faced more pressure than Gutierrez (2.05 pLI), with his only at-bat coming as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. He recorded the second out, but advanced Jarrod Dyson to second base.
Liam Hendriks had the most individual pressure on the White Sox at 1.43 pLI. He recorded his eighth save by tossing a scoreless ninth inning. He did allow one hit.
Andrew Vaughn’s two-run blast had a .159 WPA, as it gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead. That’s his second home run in the last four games. Similar to how the hits started coming after Vaughn recorded his first career base knock, the same thing is happening with the long ball.
Kopech was the game’s top performer, owning a .151 WPA. He kept Kansas City’s offense at bay during his four-inning start. It was another strong effort from the White Sox’s rotation, which sparked a win for an offense missing/sitting out many key pieces.
Luckiest hit: Dyson’s bunt single in the seventh inning had a .260 xBA. He might’ve been out if Hendriks cleanly fielded the bunt.
Toughest out: Collins hit the ball hard. He flew out to center field in the third inning, with it leaving his bat at 104.3 mph and owning an .870 xBA. His second-inning double was hit at 106.9 mph, as well.
Hardest hit: Vaughn simply demolishes baseballs. His two-run home run in the second inning is the latest example. The White Sox rookie smoked the ball at 107.6 mph.
Weakest contact: Gutierrez softly chopped a 41.7 mph ground ball in front of home plate, which Collins made a beautiful play to record the second out of the seventh inning. It was hit slower than Dyson’s bunt single in the previous at-bat.
Longest hit: Vaughn’s homer traveled 421 feet.
Magic Number: 3
The White Sox are now 3-0 in Kopech’s starts this season. This tweet is an accurate depiction whenever he takes the mound.
How we feel during every Michael Kopech start: pic.twitter.com/5lzPnI2DIy— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 15, 2021
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
Who was the White Sox MVP during their 3-1 win over the Royals?
This poll is closed
Michael Kopech: 4 IP, ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K, .151 WPA
Andrew Vaughn: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, .124 WPA
Yoan Moncada: 1-for-2, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, K, .100 WPA
Adam Eaton: 1-for-1, 2 BB, .120 WPA
Zack Collins: 1-for-3, 2B, K, nice defensive play in seventh inning, .009 WPA
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat during their 3-1 win over the Royals?
This poll is closed
Yermín Mercedes: 0-for-3, 2 K, -.092 WPA
Billy Hamilton: 0-for-3, K, -.059 WPA
Nick Madrigal: 0-for-4, -.001 WPA
Danny Mendick: 0-for-2, BB, K, -.008 WPA
South Side Sox Roll Call
In the 175-comment nightcap thread, steely3000 wasn’t messing around, with a big win.
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In a FIRST this season, no green! Whoa. Even stranger, only one comment even got to two recs, so Pointerbabe cherry-picks a surprising win. What’s with the stingy recs, people?