At the very least, the righthander with mediocre velocity that shut down the White Sox is doing it to other teams, too; Johnny Cueto’s gutsy performance simply wasn’t enough to outdo the Dodgers lineup and ERA title contender Tony Gonsolin, dropping back to two games below .500 with a 4-1 loss on Wednesday night. On Thursday, the Sox will try to deal lefthander Tyler Anderson (2.59 ERA) his first loss of the season, countering with Dylan Cease’s 3.59 ERA and all-natural approach to covid immunity.
The White Sox wasted yet another strong outing from a resurgent Johnny Cueto, who now has three quality starts in four attempts with the White Sox. Allowing three earned runs over six innings to a Dodgers offense he became more than familiar with in his years with San Francisco, his 2.94 ERA is backed up by a 3.10 FIP and 3.58 xERA, indicating little flukiness in his success so far. The fact that his 25% CSW on the sinker and 20% overall CSW were a season low is a testament to the pitch and his overall arsenal’s success thus far; while he allowed a season-high 10 hard-hit balls, he kept many of them on the ground and got outs when it counted, making for an outing that deserved better than what the offense gave him.
Cueto’s 90-pitch outing looked like this:
On the other hand, the White Sox offense failed to take advantage of a night in which National League ERA leader Tony Gonsolin clearly didn’t quite have the stuff that got him to that point, with the unheralded righthander running a season-low 22% whiff rate against an unusually passive Sox lineup. While there’s a chance that said passiveness was part of a deliberate strategy, it feels more likely that they were simply baffled (haven’t seen that before, after all) by the combination of his sharply-rising fastball and a splitter/curveball/slider secondary smorgasbord that he can effectively fill up the zone with. The lack of swinging strikes was more than offset by 15 called strikes; the offense simply didn’t know what to do with him, a story I’ve typed out in this section more than enough times already in 2022.
Gonsolin’s 90-pitch outing —what it must be like to have a manager that doesn’t wait until their ace is panting with exhaustion before pulling them! — looked like this:
It was a relatively low-leverage game in spite of the relatively close score, in which a 2.98 LI in the fifth inning plate appearance from Danny Mendick and his ground ball to the shortstop represented the tight point.
After a well-appreciated hot few games, Mendick returned to being Danny Mendick last night, going 0-for-3 despite a 1.74 pLI that was the highest cumulative total in the game.
Hit early, hit often: The Fresh Prince’s two-run homer in the first inning gave the Dodgers .198 WPA, the most effective play of the game.
Pitching is what ultimately got it done for the Dodgers, with Gonsolin’s three-hit, one-run performance over six innings giving him a game-best .221 cumulative WPA.
Hardest hit: We were treated to a double Burger with fries, as the rookie’s sixth home run the season left his bat at a game-high 113.7 mph.
Weakest contact: Brusdar Graterol’s triple-digit sinker made mincemeat out of Luis Robert’s swing, inducing a game-low 64 mph ground ball in the eighth inning.
Luckiest hit: Not being in Chicago at the moment, I can only surmise that the wind was blowing out to right field, as Statcast says Cody Bellinger’s insurance home run would have been a hit just 18% of the time (.180 xBA)
Toughest out: That being said, it may have been evened out by Trea Turner’s sixth inning fly out to the right-center field gap, which had a .680 xBA despite finding “right fielder” Gavin Sheets’ glove.
Longest hit: Yesterday’s Burger Bomb traveled 398 feet.
Magic Number: 2
After Leury García’s leadoff opportunity while Andrew Vaughn rode the bench, García (29 wRC+) has two more at-bats on the season than Vaughn (139 wRC+). Hall of Fame baseball yadda yadda yadda, I’m tired.
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