To borrow my colleague Chrystal’s phrasing from last night, the White Sox successfully tamed the Tigers for not one, not two, but THREE games in a row! The offense continued rolling, spotting Vince Velasquez three runs before he even took the mound, and they didn’t look back once from there, racking up 22 hits on the way to their most lopsided victory of the season at 13-0. Pitching with the game mostly in hand, Davis Martin was excellent in relief of Velasquez, requiring fewer than 60 pitches to toss 5 1⁄3 innings of bulk work out of the bullpen. The vibes are... good? The vibes are good!
Let’s break down the win with some more stats.
In a development that’s surprising to absolutely nobody who’s watched an ounce of baseball in recent years, Vince Velasquez is a pretty good pitcher when he doesn’t have to face the same hitters twice!
Having spent the past 15 months sighing myself hoarse as we’ve watched Velasquez, Dallas Keuchel, and even Lucas Giolito repeatedly get hung out to dry by facing hitters in the middle innings that they clearly shouldn’t have been facing, the “quit while you’re ahead” mentality employed today was as refreshing as it was successful, as Velasquez retired eight of the nine hitters he faced before getting removed for Davis Martin, who followed with 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings of his own.
Spotted a three-run lead in the first inning that rapidly grew throughout the game, there wasn’t much high-leverage pitching done, but Vinny Velo looked good all the same: working with a shorter leash in warm weather, his fastball averaged a season-high 94.3 mph. More importantly, his command looked as sharp as it has all season, pouring his breaking balls into the zone to the tune of seven called strikes (on top of three whiffs) between the 24 curveballs and sliders he threw.
If this is the pattern we see with Velasquez and his usage going forward, there may still yet be something to salvage what remains an inexplicable major league contract. His 41-pitch outing looked like this:
Former first-round pick (and Dane Dunning rotation-mate at Florida) Alex Faedo has pitched excellently to start his career, entering today with a 2.92 ERA in 37 innings pitched over his first seven starts. He did not pitch excellently today. His hot start was somewhat belied by an 18.5% strikeout rate and .351 expected wOBA that both fell well below (or above, in the latter’s case) league averages, and it simply unraveled today, as the suddenly-scorching Sox bats touched him for nine hits and seven earned runs over his three innings of work.
Pitching constantly with his back against the wall, Faedo relied exclusively on his fastball-slider combination today. His slider has been a quality offering this year (21% swinging-strike rate), but it simply wasn’t fooling Sox hitters today, and despite a LOT of arm-side runs, Faedo’s fastball command just wasn’t sharp enough at 93 mph to get a lot of outs. On the whole, Faedo’s 80 pitches played out like this:
When the highest LI (Leverage Index) of the game comes during the fifth plate appearance of the game, it usually means really good things for one team, and not so good things for another. In this case, the fact that the 1.64 LI at this moment was a game-high was simply cathartic for everybody involved:
Alex Faedo’s 0.68 pLI was the highest of the game, doing his teammates quite the solid by removing all the pressure and leverage before the bullpen could even see the field.
Make it two days in a row for a (dare we say) heating up Yoán Moncada, whose aforementioned home run added 25.8% to the Sox win probability (.258 WPA).
On that note, Moncada’s cumulative .240 WPA on the game was easily the highest. Talk about a much-needed script-flipper.
Hardest hit: Somewhat laughably, none of the White Sox's 22 hits could beat the top two batted balls from Detroit, as Kody Clemens took the cake with a 108 mph line drive in the eighth inning.
Weakest contact: The mis-hit swinging bunt off the bat of Eric Haase that was misplayed by Velasquez was a mere 31.9 mph.
Luckiest hit: Most folks got the results they deserved today, though the expected batting average gave AJ Pollock’s fourth-inning single just a 24% hit probability (.240 xBA).
Toughest out: Again, deserved results: the aforementioned 108 mph smoker from Clemens had a .820 expected batting average, which doesn’t take into account the fact that it was hit directly at Andrew Vaughn standing at first base.
Longest hit: Come on down for Yoán Moncada day! Let’s check out that homer one more time, which flew a game-high 394 feet:
Magic Number: 1983
Look, I hate to play into the “this team has the same record as the 1983 White Sox at almost every point this season!” game, but let’s take note: on this day in 1983, La Russa’s Sox won their third game in four tries, kicking off a 12-3 stretch that took them from seven games back in the AL West to just two. It’s now or never for the 2022 White Sox; let’s see what happens next.
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 today?
This poll is closed
Yoán Moncada (5-for-6, HR, 5 RBI)
Andrew Vaughn (3-for-6, 2B)
José Abreu (4-for-5, 3 R, 2 RBI)
Davis Martin ( 5 1⁄3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO)
Vibes (They’re Good)
For the second straight game, it seems like it would genuinely be in bad faith to have a Cold Cat.
Who was the Cold Cat today?
This poll is closed
The One AB That Moncada Didn’t Have A Hit
Harold Castro, Kody Clemens, & Tucker Barnhart (Didn’t Take Position Player Pitching Seriously)