Good thing yesterday only counts as one loss, right?
The Chicago White Sox bounced back (somewhat) from yesterday’s shellacking, doing no better in terms of overall offensive output but finding ways to clutch up and hand Rich Hill and the Red Sox their 23rd loss of the season. The White Sox now stand at 22-21, poking their heads above .500 for the fifth time this month. Each time, they’ve followed it with a loss. That’s a problem for tomorrow, however.
On to the recap!
When Lucas Giolito has his good command, he’s nearly unhittable. When he doesn’t have his good command, he can still be pretty dang good, and that’s what transpired tonight when the Sox ace worked around four walks and five hits to limit Boston to a solitary run in six innings of work.
Giolito simply had difficulty putting his fastball where he wanted it, drawing just four called strikes and running a subpar 23% CSW on the pitch. When a pitcher’s fastball chart resembles a drunken dartboard, it usually doesn’t bode well for the overall performance:
However, most pitchers don’t possess Giolito’s changeup, or even his slider, and those two pitches did their part in picking up the slack tonight. Though it’s typically the less effective of his secondary pitches, Giolito’s slider racked up an absurdly nice 69% whiff rate — that’s nine misses in 13 swings at the pitch — and while the changeup did less well in the bat-missing department, hitters had difficulty tracking it in fastball counts, with seven called strikes ultimately boosting its CSW% to a quite solid 36%.
Lucas’s ERA now sits at a pristine 2.63 through seven starts and 37 1⁄3 innings, and it could be argued that he’s been his best self for at most two or three of those starts. His 101 pitches on this particular night looked like this:
Pictured: Rich Hill pitching against the White Sox.
Also pictured: Rich Hill pitching against the White Sox.
That was fun, but the early part of the game sure wasn’t. Through the first four innings, it felt as if the White Sox might have had more success if they had sent out their 2006 lineup to face Hill tonight. Whatever Tadahito Iguchi and Alex Cintron are up to these days, it’s hard to imagine they’d have done much worse. The 42-year-old southpaw’s formula hasn’t changed much since his out-of-nowhere career revival more than a half-decade ago, but the White Sox spent the first four innings failing to touch Hill’s pairing of a rising high-80s fastball from an assortment of arm slots with a curveball so big and slow it’s almost impossible to square up.
The thing about working with stuff that soft, though, is that you can fool a hitter once, but often not twice. After going without a hit through the first four innings, the Sox began to ding Hill up their second time through the order, with Jake Burger’s fifth-inning moonshot breaking the ice and providing the only three runs of the night. Fortunately, it was all the offense they needed this time — no motivational punch necessary.
Here’s what Hill’s 65-pitch outing looked like:
Kendall Graveman has found himself in quite a few highest-of-all-possible-leverage spots this season, and tonight, he acquitted himself well, inducing an Alex Verdugo ground out with the bases loaded, two outs, and a game-high 4.71 LI in the top of the seventh.
Perhaps I spoke a little too freely — Graveman faced three batters, and Verdugo was the only one he retired, which is in large part why his 2.77 pLI was the highest of anybody tonight.
The ground beef in tonight’s dinner clearly came from some very high quality (.285 WPA) filet mignon:
We’ll never forget Yermínator madness, but tonight, the best Burger in Bridgeport belonged to Jake and his .265 WPA.
Hardest hit: At an even 110 mph, tonight’s Burger Bomb was the hardest-hit of his three on this season.
Weakest contact: This, my friends, is what a single on a 59 mph batted ball looks like, courtesy of Jackie Bradley Jr.
Luckiest hit: Bradley’s wasn’t the luckiest hit of the night, though. That honor belongs to Andrew Vaughn and his .110 xBA infield single in the sixth inning.
Toughest out: Adam Engel’s seventh inning liner straight at Rafael Devers had an expected batting average of .600.
Longest hit: Burger’s home run was also his best Jay-Z impression, traveling 444 feet into the humid Chicago night.
Magic Number: 16
Tonight was Liam Hendriks’ 16th save of at least four outs since the start of 2019, tied with Josh Hader for the most in baseball.
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
Lucas Giolito (6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 7 SO)
Jake Burger (1-for-3, HR, R, 3 RBI)
Warm Weather Pito (1-for-2, 2B, 2 BB)
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat tonight?
This poll is closed
Yoán Moncada (0-for-4)
Tim Anderson (0-for-4)
AJ Pollock (0-for-4, R)