Lots of talk about this being the true division-win hangover game, but let’s push back on that. One run, courtesy of a homer from Luis Robert, on Friday — and Sox-killer Shane Bieber threw three innings in that one. Two hits and otherwise nothing doing against Cleveland’s slop pitching on Saturday? Blech. Next year’s division-win celebration, send cold cases of near-beer to the clubhouse, Jerry.
For everyone talking up Lance Lynn as the ALDS Game 1 starter, making it possible for him to come back for a Game 5, slow your roll. Dude is pitching on one leg. Every start since he’s come back from the IL has featured wincing, limping, and tonight we were treated to ginger-stepping that required a mound visit from Ethan Katz and some warm-up tosses to confirm he was OK to stay in the game. Unless you shut Lynn down until Game 1, he can’t go on short rest — and may not even be the smart pick for Game 1, even rested.
By box score line, this was as bad a start as you’ll see from Lance, with six earned in six innings, and by far the worst WPA in the game, at -.182. His game score, which is an element that’s somehow completely dropped from the Six Packs, was 38, making it his third-worst start of the season behind June 19 at Houston (35) and August 28 vs. the Cubs (21).
Lynn threw 105 pitches in an utterly meaningless game at the end of September. His velo was marginally down but seemingly not beyond a margin of error. Spin was way up, but it did not measurably contribute to increased movement.
Fiancier-turned-MLB starter and heir to a cotton gin empire Eli Morgan got the start for Cleveland tonight and, well, dominated the White Sox with his Division II velocity. Seriously, the hell, White Sox. Are all of these pitched stamped “changeup” actually knucklers, or slow spitters?
Morgan matched Lynn’s six innings, and did so far more efficiently. Oh yeah, and on one hit! Morgan had a 75 game score, in his 17th career start, matching his career high set back on August 17 against Minnesota. Coming into tonight, Morgan’s season average game score this year was a mere 45.
I mean, seriously, don’t look at the velo or the relative lack of movement, and let’s just be cute and say the White Sox were still hungover from Thursday.
Who knew we were in for a flaccid blowout this early, but when the White Sox were gifted two runners to open the second (walk, error) but choked, that was it for pressure. Yoán Moncada’s fly out hit at 2.07 LI and Leury García’s whiff after that was 2.05 LI.
A blowout, so no astronomical leverage numbers tonight. Leury García went 0-for-3, including that key second-inning strikeout above, thus faltering under his game-topping 1.20 pLI.
José Ramírez woke up this morning and pretended that, rather than being the only decent player on a sagging Cleveland ballclub that doesn’t even have a name right now, it was 2020 and his Wahoos were going to hit walk-off after walk-off to crush White Sox spirits in September. Well, today wasn’t a walk-off but it might as well have been; Ramírez’s one-out, two-run homer in the first banked .122 WPA for José and gave Cleveland all the runs it would need tonight.
The Imaginarium of Dr. Eli Morgan yielded Cleveland’s starter top value tonight, at .300 WPA. Boy howdy.
Hardest hit: There is literally never a full game played by Luis Robert where he doesn’t land at least one Top 10 exit velo. Tonight, on a fly out in the third inning, La Pantera topped all, at 108.1 mph. Sigh, 380 feet, home run distance most spots in the park.
Weakest contact: Tim Anderson, with thoughts of sipping a warm, celebratory, spiked cider before hitting the sack early before tomorrow’s finale, noodled a grounder in the eighth at 51.3 mph, by far the softest contact tonight.
Luckiest hit: Amed Rosario was ridiculous tonight. After twice grounding out on balls that traveled ... four feet ... Rosario bristled up in the sixth and crushed a ball ... five feet ... for a single registering .080 xBA. A prouder one with have thrown that hit back into the water.
Toughest out: On the other hand, hard-luck-when-he-doesn’t-suck César Hernández lined out to left in the third, a ball that seems routine on Statcast but nonetheless registered an .680 xBA.
Longest hit: When José Ramírez hit his 398-foot homer in the first, a lame Lance Lynn gingerly circled the mound and was seen to mouth something at the dugout. Because I go the extra mile for you people, I enlisted Di Billick’s lip-reading friend to figure out what Lynn was up to. It appears he challenged Cleveland to hit another one that far. Andres Gimenez took Lynn literally, hitting a 398-foot homer of his own in the third inning.
Magic Number: 3
The Astros magic number to ensure home-field advantage against the White Sox in the ALDS is just three. And for any of you thinking Houston will catch Tampa for the top spot, sending the White Sox to Florida instead of Texas for the first round, the Astros are five games back of the Rays with seven games to play. Ain’t happening.
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
Yeah, this was one of the worst White Sox efforts of the season, but yeah, we have to name an MVP. I double-dare you.
This poll is closed
Eloy Jiménez: 1-for-3, 2B, full goggles to prevent alcohol stinging the eyes, .058 WPA
Yasmani Grandal: 0-for-3, BB, K, .014 WPA
José Ruiz: IP, K, .002 WPA
Ryan Burr: IP, H, 3 K, .001 WPA
Seriously, those were the only positive WPAs in the game for the White Sox, so scroll back up and pick someone.
Here’s the hard part: Pick tonight’s White Sox Cold Cat.
This poll is closed
Lance Lynn: 6 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 6 K, 2 HR, LOSS, -.182 WPA
Leury García: 0-for-3, K, -.096 WPA
Andrew Vaughn: 0-for-2, BB, K, -.072 WPA
César Hernández: 0-for-3, continuing to make fans tear their hair out, -.067 WPA
Tim Anderson: 0-for-4, 2 K, impossibly weak ground out, -.065 WPA
South Side Sox Roll Call
Bully to AnoHito, 1969Vikings and Pointerbabe for carrying this weak, 108-comment thread tonight (what are you doing, everyone else, living lives, or, worse, watching college football?). Ano prevailed, with 38 comments.
No green tonight, you crazy buffoons. In fact, just one dig at Yoán Moncada received as many as two recs, and that comment came from baines03: