It took all of four days for the White Sox to demolish the goodwill of their 6-2 start to the season, as today’s sweep in Cleveland drops them back to .500 and behind the Guardians in the division at this April juncture. Early or not, the offense continues to be uninspiring in spite of its share of bad luck, and the team’s suddenly-decomposed sense for basic fielding and base-running is quickly becoming a serious concern, given the way in which they were fundamentally outplayed by the Astros last October. Anyway, to the details.
Dylan Cease did his part this afternoon, battling into the sixth inning without his sharpest stuff and ultimately getting tagged with a bit of a tough-luck four earned runs. His fastball velocity was down on an overcast day in Cleveland, failing to break 97 mph for the third time in his career. He still drew 13 whiffs and threw 69% strikes for the second consecutive start, the second-highest rate of his career. The unfortunate part about missing his putaway stuff, however, is that like Dallas Keuchel yesterday, Cease couldn’t quite muster up enough to fully overcome his teammates’ mistakes. The tough-luck part about some of those runs? The first two of them probably don’t score if the Sox don’t have Gavin Sheets in right field for this fly ball with a 31% hit probability:
So that the inning was still alive three hitters later, for Franmil Reyes to do this:
On the whole, Cease’s 93-pitch outing looked like this:
Zach Plesac starts against the White Sox usually go the extreme; good or bad. Three times he’s gotten rocked for exactly six earned runs. Today was a different day: The fourth time he’s thrown at least six innings with one earned run or fewer, scattering seven hits and making use of more aid from his defense — imagine the concept — to lower his ERA on the season to 1.53. All of this was in spite of the fact that Plesac threw zero fastballs at even 92 mph and finished with just three strikeouts and a 24% CSW. He struck out just three and allowed an absurd 13 hard-hit batted balls of 95 mph or greater, and as they have all season for the White Sox offense, they mostly found gloves: Only four of that baker’s dozen landed for hits. That, everybody, is how you wind up with six runs in three games.
Plesac’s 85-pitch outing looked like this:
At a 2.56 LI, the highest-pressure play of the day began with promise and ended in heartbreak, as José Abreu’s drive to right-center field with no outs, a 2-0 deficit, Leury García on first base, and Luis Robert on second base ended with an out and no runs scored thanks to García’s base-running blunder forcing Robert into an easy out at the plate, the second time in two days the White Sox made such a mistake.
Franmil Reyes’s 1.38 pLI was tops in this game, and as we know, he delivered, opening the lead that Cleveland would never relinquish.
We’re going to do the José Ramírez thing again, aren’t we? Well, this was good for .210 WPA, or 21% win probability added.
At .25 WPA, or 25% Win Probability Added, Zach Plesac’s gutsy (as we would describe it if he were the White Sox starter) 6 2⁄3 innings rounded out this afternoon’s Six Pack winners.
Hardest hit: Jake Burger let loose a good enough swing in the fifth inning to put a season-high 114.4 mph exit velocity on the ball, but it wasn’t good enough to get past the glove of a well-positioned Steven Kwan in left field.
Weakest contact: José Ramírez’s 42.7 mph jam-shot dribbler was a hit by virtue of weak contact, as such contact is one of the only ways Ramírez is going to beat the shift.
Luckiest hit: The 98 mph ground ball to second base that Amed Rosario legged out on Leury García’s weak throw had just a .150 expected batting average.
Toughest out: It’s a double cheeseburger for lunch today, as the aforementioned Jake Burger line out came with a hit probability of 81%.
Longest hit: Luis Robert’s towering fourth inning double hit the top of the left-center field wall, but has a projected distance of 415 feet.
Magic Number: 6
Six runs and six errors in three games. ’Nuff said.
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 today’s 6-3 loss?
This poll is closed
Dylan Cease (5 1⁄3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO)
Gavin Sheets (2-for-4, R)
Luis Robert (2-for-4, 2B)
Who was the Cold Cat?
This poll is closed
Kendall Graveman (1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER)
Leury García (0-for-3, BB, R)
Tim Anderson (0-for-4, E)