The White Sox brought their AL Central lead back to nine games over Cleveland with a 2-1 win to kick off August. The team is off tomorrow, and will host Kansas City for a three-game series beginning Tuesday.
Cal Quantrill made his 12th start of the season today, and second against the White Sox, going six innings and allowing just three hits and a solitary unearned run, walking four and striking out six. It’s the third consecutive quality start for the 26-year-old former first-rounder, who was acquired in last season’s Mike Clevinger deal, and fourth in five tries. It lowered his ERA on the season to 3.40, and 2.36 in six starts (34.1 IP) since the beginning of July.
Quantrill leaned heavily on a sinker/slider/changeup combo, mixing in an occasional four-seamer and curveball for an unimpressive 24% CSW. None of his pitches has particularly remarkable movement, drawing just nine swinging strikes in an even 100 pitches, but he avoided hard contact all day, allowing just two hard-hit balls. One could reasonably describe him as being effectively wild; his four walks were symptomatic of an overall lack of control, but White Sox bats did themselves no favors, as the second chart indicates. Hard to hit the ball 95+ mph on pitches like that!
Jimmy Lambert and Reynaldo López tag-teamed to get through six innings of their own (three apiece) before handing it off to the White Sox bullpen, allowing just a single run on a Myles Straw solo shot in the third.
Like Quantrill, Lambert struggled with control, needing 57 pitches to get through his three innings and throwing fewer than 60% of them for strikes. He threw a surprisingly zippy fastball over half of the time at about 94 mph for just a 16% CSW, and his secondaries failed to miss any bats, either. Still, he showed flashes of some plus stuff, and likely would have drawn more whiffs if he had been able to command better. Despite low spin, his fastball plays up in the zone due to good efficiency (96% active spin), and his changeup in particular showed nasty fade at times.
López, meanwhile, looked like every bit of the excellent multi-inning reliever we’ve been begging the team to try for over the past year-plus, riding exclusively fastballs and sliders to an excellent 40% CSW and four strikeouts against a single hit in his three innings following up Lambert. He’s hit a 40% CSW or better in three outings so far this season after doing it just twice in his career before. His stuff isn’t much different than in his days as a starter, but his location was excellent, peppering the strike zone with fastballs but avoiding the heart of the plate, and locating the slider in the right spots out of the zone.
Even when he’s slumping, José Abreu still finds a way to get into the thick of the action and drive in some runs, as he did today with his game-tying, bases-loaded, hit-by-pitch (holy hyphen, Batman) in the fifth inning. At 4.35 LI, it was the only plate appearance of the game with a leverage index higher than four, as both sides played evenly for most of the game, with neither team’s win expectancy poking higher than 65% until the very last swing.
It’s hard to give special credit to any one member of the bullpen today, but a hat tip should go to Liam Hendriks’ ninth inning, which he entered with a game-high leverage index of 2.29. He did allow a two-out single to Franmil Reyes, but to get to that point he had already retired the heart of Cleveland’s order; Amed Rosario had himself a weekend to remember and José Ramírez has been murdering the Sox since time immemorial, but today was not their day of late-inning triumph.
What is there to say? Brian Goodwin telling the AL Central to kick rocks via right-field rocket shots wasn’t the plan entering spring training, but we’ll take it nonetheless. Assuming Gavin Sheets is soon-to-be optioned upon Luis Robert’s return, de-rostering Goodwin in favor of Jake Lamb when the latter’s rehab time in Charlotte runs out in short order would ring as a mistake.
With Goodwin getting his laurels above, López still stands out as the game’s biggest bright spot, making his fifth multi-inning relief appearance out of seven total this season. Given what the offense has looked like lately, it’s fair to say that a 3-0 or 4-0 ballgame probably would have felt out of reach by the middle innings, and though he’s mostly been relegated to mop-up duty since rejoining the big club following the All-Star break, he did a fantastic job today keeping them in the game long enough to pass it over to the Bummer-Kimbrel-Hendriks bullpen Hydra. Overall, López’s three innings were worth .180 WPA, best on the best staff and most today of any Sox player without the initials BG.
Luckiest hit: What luck indeed, as the César Hernández “single” that preceded Abreu’s RBI HBP had a hit probability of just 9%, as José Ramírez’s double-clutch gave Hernández (90th percentile sprint speed, per Statcast) just enough time to leg it out.
Toughest out: Aaron Bummer has made a habit that I don’t like of leaving his slider straight down the middle of the plate, and only some good positioning on Adam Engel’s part stopped this 102 mph liner off Oscar Mercado’s bat (.620 xBA) from making him pay.
Hardest hit: One would think that Brian Goodwin’s 108 mph no-doubter to end things would take the cake, but the Franimal had to steal the show one more time this weekend, topping the game charts today with a 111 mph rocket-shot single against Liam Hendriks.
Weakest contact: It was, uh, not a great day to be Leury García.
Longest hit: Goodwin’s walk-off came off the bat 5 mph harder, but it was Myles Straw’s solo shot that takes the cake, traveling 409 feet to dead-center field.
Magic Number: 28
White Sox pitchers were responsible for the 28 fastest pitches of the game, and 38 of the top 41, with the future-Guardians topping out with a 95.6 mph fastball from Quantrill in the fifth. Get used to smelling gas in the middle-to-late innings; the rest of the league will be hard-pressed to match the relentless barrage of high-90s velo that the Sox bullpen can bring in any given inning.
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 in their 2-1 win over Cleveland?
This poll is closed
Brian Goodwin (1-3, BB, HR, RBI, 2 R)
Reynaldo López (3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)
José Abreu (0-3, HBP, RBI)
Liam Hendriks (W, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K)
Who was the Cold Cat in today’s win?
This poll is closed
Yoán Moncada (0-4, 3 K, 1 LOB)
Leury García (0-3, 5 LOB)
Tim Anderson (0-4, 2 LOB)
South Side Sox Roll Call
After the madness of the last two nights, a quiet, 113-post Sunday afternoon slow ride might have been juuuust what we needed. DuhSox sneaks up for the surprise win, with 24 comments!
|10||Mark P. Liptak||2|
Just a single swath of green on the gamethread, so give it up for seven11!