The White Sox (86-66) are the 2021 American League Central Division champions. Bask in it; say it again. Since their last division crown, the Twins and Tigers have each won it four times, Cleveland twice, Kansas City once. Each of those teams save the Royals have won it at least two straight seasons, sometimes three. Let the reign of the South Side begin!
Reynaldo López’s lasik-magic appeared to have finally worn off over his last few starts, and while his final line of 3 1⁄3 innings, four hits, and two runs (both earned) isn’t anything special, his stuff was good, reaching 99 mph on the radar gun in his ladder-climbing strikeout of Harold Ramirez to end the second inning.
Reynaldo López, 99mph ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/KGJXDdRVZZ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 23, 2021
His control was relatively sharp, and critically, his slider returned a solid 33% CSW rate after falling off a fair amount his last few outings. Even when things are going well, López is a two-pitch pitcher, so it’s encouraging to see a 55% whiff rate on the slider. His fastball has enough life that he’ll remain an above-average swingman and spot-starter if his slider performs as it did today. The seven-inning nature of the game (and a commanding lead with the division on the line) likely contributed to La Russa’s quick hook, as López had just 65 pitches before turning it over to Garrett Crochet.
Here are the numbers on those 65 pitches:
I usually get pretty long-winded in these sections, but Aaron Civale made my job easy today. Civale throws six different pitch types, and not a single one of them was effective today, as he didn’t even crack the half-century mark in pitches before getting chased in the second inning with an ugly 7-spot in the earned run column.
His big, loopy curveball still did its job, drawing two of the five whiffs he enticed this afternoon, but pretty much nothing else did, as seven of the nine balls in play he allowed left the bat above the hard-hit threshold of 95 mph. The result? Four home runs allowed and an ignominious exit before the conclusion of the second inning. His 27% CSW wasn’t horrible, but when the balls that do get hit are hit as hard as they were today, 27% ain’t gonna get the job done, thankfully for the slumping Sox lineup.
Here’s how Civale’s 45-pitch outing measured up:
Naturally, the early scoring led to a dearth of high-leverage opportunities, but Tim Anderson’s back-breaking, three-run blast in the second inning was the highest, with a 1.10 LI that topped everything else.
By that same virtue, Anderson’s pLI of .54 was the highest in the game, narrowly edging out Bradley Zimmer and Myles Straw.
Both of Anderson’s homers added roughly 11% of win probability to the White Sox side, with the three-run shot edging out the leadoff solo blast by about three-thousandths of a percent.
It’s more or less a clean sweep for TA today, as those two 11%s added up to a game-high 22% WPA (.220) on the afternoon.
Hardest hit: Luis Robert is making quite the habit of showing up here, as his second-inning moonshot against Civale left the bat at 110.2 mph.
Weakest contact: At 62.9 MPH, Yu Chang’s jam-escaping ground out against Craig Kimbrel was the weakest contact of the afternoon.
Luckiest hit: Brad Zimmer’s line-drive double against López in the third inning looked good, but actually had an expected batting average of just .330.
Toughest out: The 102 mph line drive from José Ramírez that was smoked straight at César Hernández had an .840 expected batting average, one of the toughest outs we’ve seen in some time.
Longest hit: The ball was flying today, and of all of the moonshots to come off Sox bats today, Eloy Jiménez’s 422-foot blast was the king of them all.
Magic Number: 14
Days until ALDS Game 1! Say less.
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 for Game 1?
This poll is closed
Tim Anderson (3-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI)
Luis Robert (2-for-4, HR, R, 2 RBI)
César Hernábdez (3-for-3, R)
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat for Game 1?
This poll is closed
Gavin Sheets (0-for-2, SO, 2 LOB)
Yasmani Grandal (0-for-4, 3 SO)
Yoán Moncada (0-for-3, BB, 2 SO)
South Side Sox Roll Call
Today’s clincher brought us a beefy 244-comment gamethread, with AnoHito taking the title at 66:
|11||David John Craven||6|
|12||Right Size Wrong Shape||6|
Most popular today was mattcoz’s instructions on what to do the next time you need to use the bathroom during a shutout.