Hot diggety, White Sox! The Pale Hose are 4-1 to start a season for the first time since 2005, when some good things happened, most notably the most exciting Bulls team in years reaching the playoffs after an extended layoff. They lost in the first round, for whatever it’s worth.
Tonight’s game almost didn’t happen, but we’re sure glad they squeezed it in. Props to the weatherman in the bowels of Guaranteed Rate Field instructing Roger Bossard on the appropriate timing to make sure Seattle Mariners star Robbie Ray bore the brunt of the water while Dallas Keuchel, in his own words, got a “sprinkle.” On to the numbers!
Dallas Keuchel did his job for four innings, striking out five and walking none, with a solo home run off the bat of Ty France the only blemish on the scoreboard to that point. Caught in-between a heavily-depleted bullpen and a pitcher with well-documented struggles after the fourth inning, Tony La Russa erred on the side of the veteran, sending Keuchel back out for the fifth to the tune of three consecutive hits, two of which came around to score before Keuchel worked his way out of the inning.
The most notable difference between tonight’s Dallas Keuchel and last year’s dumpster fire was control: After posting the highest walk rate of any full season in his career in 2021, Keuchel spent much of tonight perfectly dotting the edge with his cutter and critically, he hardly threw a pitch above the belt all night, inducing six ground outs and two pop outs on top of his five punchouts:
Anyhow, Keuchel’s entire 80-pitch outing looked like this:
Robbie Ray battled both the elements, and the element of not having stuff nearly as good as what he flashed on Opening Day in Minneapolis. In combination with a White Sox team that has swung-and-missed less than any team in the American League to this point, this produced a 22% called strike and whiff rate (CSW%) that ties Ray’s season-low from 2021 and a 10-hit, six-run final line also worse than anything he flashed last year. Of course, those numbers all probably would have looked a little bit better if Ray hadn’t been rather inexplicably allowed to face Tim Anderson and Luis Robert for a fourth time late into his outing, but that’s for Scott Servais to explain, not us.
Ray’s 85-pitch outing looked like this:
Today’s Leverage Index (LI) peaked at 2.74 in the top of the fifth, when Abraham Toro came to bat as the go-ahead run after three consecutive hits to start the inning vs. Dallas. He ultimately grounded out to Jake Burger at third base.
Kyle Crick stood up to the pressure tonight after a rough opening outing, responding to a 1.44 pLI, highest of the game, with a scoreless sixth inning blemished only by a walk and ... a potentially game-saving catch from Adam Engel.
Tim Anderson’s seventh inning ding-dong might have sealed the deal, but it was his two-run double in the bottom of the second that broke things open, giving the Sox a 4-1 lead and increasing their win probability by a game-high 12%.
Did somebody say spaghetti? Tim Anderson was the MVP of this one, and it wasn’t even close, running a .25 cumulative win probability added, with Eloy Jiménez (.11) the only other player in the game to reach double digits.
Hardest hit: The outfield isn’t the only place where Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez jostle for position, as the 111.4 mph exit velocity on the latter’s second inning home run was bested only by the 111.6 mph exit velocity on Robert’s seventh inning rocket that sent Ray packing.
Weakest contact: Dylan Moore’s swinging-bunt single in front of Dallas Keuchel in the fifth inning left the bat at just 51.4 mph, lowest of the evening.
Luckiest hit: That there swinging bunt single was also the luckiest hit of the game, as every batted ball with an expected batting average lower than its .250 found a glove for an out.
Toughest out: In what could have been read as an omen in any direction, José Abreu’s 110 mph liner in the first inning should have landed safely about 69% of the time, but the Mariners outfield positioning turned it into an inning-ending out.
Longest hit: 449 feet, and even farther if you count the extra empty bleacher ricochet:
Magic Number: 100
For all the vitriol Keuchel has received since the middle of last year — much of it well-deserved, if we’re being honest — reaching 100 wins in the major leagues is not an easy feat, and that’s where his career total lies after Wednesday’s victory. Congrats to Dallas — may it portend a few more before his time on the South Side comes to an end after this season. #manifestation
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 tonight?
This poll is closed
Tim Anderson (3-for-4, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI)
Jake Burger (2-for-4, R, RBI)
Dallas Keuchel (5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K)
Who was the White Sox cold cat tonight?
This poll is closed
José Abreu (0-for-4, 2 K)
Liam Hendriks (1 IP, 2 H, R, 0 ER, 2 K)
Faint cries of WOOOOO behind the voices of Steve and Jason