The Chicago White Sox (6-4) played a baseball game today. They will be playing another baseball game tonight, also against the Cleveland Guardians, so we don’t really have to talk about this one, do we? Except for Tanner Banks. Good job, Tanner Banks!
Similarly, Dallas Keuchel started a baseball game today.
The next sentence could go a few different ways.
Should it be the four defensive errors that occurred before four outs were recorded?
Should it be the paltry five hits put up by the offense, stifled for the umpteenth time in a row against a reduced-velocity version of Shane Bieber?
Should it be the fact that in spite of the errors, Keuchel was simply brutal?
Let’s go with all of the above. But here, we talk about Keuchel, and double-digit runs aside, if he has the same stuff he did today for an extended period of time, we probably won’t be talking about him for too much longer. Whatever form he had in his surprisingly effective season-opening performance against Seattle was lost today, and the unfortunate reality is that the White Sox probably would have stayed in this game a lot longer if they had gone with a pitcher capable of striking their way out of a jam. Keuchel is plenty effective when he’s in a groove, but a lot of things need go right for him to get in a groove, and with a bafflingly mediocre defensive arrangement behind him, it’s not necessarily surprising that they didn’t go right today. On top of it, he didn’t miss any bats, and he didn’t get any called strikes to compensate for it. Errors or no errors, Keuchel’s stuff wasn’t pretty today.
His 48-pitch day breaks down like this:
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Shane Bieber simply shut down the White Sox offense. Despite averaging a paltry 90.2 mph on his fastball, the lowest of his career, it got an equal number of swings-and-misses as Keuchel’s entire arsenal, and twice the called strikes. Probably because of the low velocity, it wasn’t even his No. 1 pitch — the 42% slider usage was his highest ever in a single game. And with a 48% whiff rate and 39% CSW, why wouldn’t Bieber lean on it? The swing-happy, plate-discipline-averse, righty-heavy makeup of the White Sox lineup leaves them particularly vulnerable to right-handed pitchers with good command, and today was no exception. With secondary pitches as good as Bieber’s, it’s game over.
His 85 pitches looked like this:
There wasn’t a whole lot of leverage to speak of after about 20 minutes, so naturally, the peak leverage index of 2.57 came in the first inning with the game still scoreless. After a walk to Franmil Reyes, the White Sox had an opportunity to get Dallas Keuchel out of the first inning still without a run. Instead, Amed Rosario’s foot very ambiguously hit the bag before Danny Mendick’s throw hit the glove, and despite a replay review that showed plenty of ambiguity, the call stood.
As a function of the final score, no player in today’s game faced more than a .70 pLI worth of pressure. The one who did get to .70? José Ramírez, who did what José Ramírez does to the White Sox with a second inning grand slam that broke the game open like a crushed egg.
Might as well post it twice for good measure, right? 6.4% win probability added, highest of the day. Have a day, Cleveland.
A .10 cumulative WPA apiece for Shane Bieber, Myles Straw, and Ernie Clement was enough to get the job done today.
Hardest hit: BY GAWD, THAT’S JOSÉ RAMÍREZ’S MUSIC
Yep, 111.6 mph on the salami gets today’s exit velocity chicken dinner.
Weakest contact: Long after the channel had been changed (for most, presumably), José Abreu’s 53.2 mph tapper back to Sam Hentges in the ninth inning swept to take this title.
Luckiest hit: In a weird technicality, the Josh Naylor grounder that ended the first inning by striking Amed Rosario on the basepaths was counted as a hit. It had just a .130 expected batting average, and thanks to the White Sox’s stellar defensive positioning, it would’ve been the luckiest hit of the day even if his teammate hadn’t gotten in the way.
Toughest Out: The ball, it seems, don’t lie. Take one, get one taken. What goes up, must come down. And so on and so forth. Josh Naylor had a two-for-one today, following up his lucky “hit” with a .970 xBA scorcher that had the misfortune to be hit to a spot within an acre of where Luis Robert was standing.
Longest hit: I thought the grand slam was about to make the Six Pack Golden Sombrero. I really did. Had the link ready and everything. But no! Tim Anderson gets some form of redemption, smacking a 395-foot double to left-center off of Bieber that had Ramírez beat by all of two feet.
Magic Number: 5,268
Tony La Russa entered today’s game with 5,286 games as a manager under his belt. The way in which the 2021-22 White Sox have consistently lost games on the margins of defense, pitching choices, and lineup construction seems to suggest that such managerial experience — at a supposedly Hall of Fame level, no less — isn’t much of a difference-maker. Who knew?
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
Pick the "MVP" in today’s 11-1 loss
This poll is closed
Tanner Banks (4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K)
Matt Foster (IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K)
Luis Robert (0-for-4, 2 K, Made A Really Cool Catch)
Who was the Cold Cat of today’s game?
This poll is closed
Dallas Keuchel (IP, 10 H, 10 R, 8 ER, BB)
Tim Anderson (1-for-4, 2B, 3 E)
Jake Burger (0-for-3. 2 K, E)