You see that featured image? It’s a leading a contender for the most brutal win probability chart of the season for the White Sox, who are back in the welcoming arms of .500 after this afternoon’s crushing 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Rockies. For the second time this week, the oft-dormant offense staged a late-inning comeback to seize the lead, only for the leading figures of the league’s most expensive bullpen to turn into pudding at the worst possible time. In failing to record an out while taking the loss today, Kendall Graveman brought his and Liam Hendriks’ post-All-Star Game stat line to nine runs in six innings.
Lucas Giolito had to work very hard to keep it together without resembling anything like his best form this afternoon. After allowing three runs in the first inning, he managed to grind his way through four more frames without allowing anything else, finishing with 102 pitches and four strikeouts and taking advantage of the defense to scatter his four walks and six hits allowed.
Giolito’s fastball has rarely looked worse than it did today, averaging a paltry 91.8 mph, tied with his July 13 start against Cleveland for his lowest velocity since May 2018. Combining that with the altitude of Coors meant Giolito’s fastball was quite literally as flat as it’s ever been — its average of 18 inches of vertical drop was the most it’s ever been. More drop means less “rise,” and hitters just weren’t swinging and missing at the bevy of fastballs scattered above the zone:
While Steve Stone and Jason Benetti began the game commenting on how teams struggle when facing Giolito’s changeup for the first time, it didn’t hold up for very long. A few of those changeups in the zone dropped in for called strikes, but it simply didn’t miss bats, and the pitcher was punished: four of the five balls put in play on the change fell for hits despite mostly soft exit velocities.
Anyhow, the whole of Giolito’s 104-pitch outing looked like this:
July 27 brought us another edition of Right-Handed Pitcher With A Bad ERA Casts Spell Over Sox Hitters, as Antonio Senzatela entered the day with a 4.98 ERA only to walk off the mound with just two runs allowed — with two outs in the seventh inning. He was later tagged for the baserunner he bequeathed to Logan Galbreith who ultimately scored.
As has often been the case against these righthanders, Senzatela set down the Sox lineup by filling up the strike zone — 69% of his 91 pitches were strikes — and letting the hitters get themselves out. It took him fewer than 80 pitches to get through the first six innings, peppering all corners of the plate with his fastball and slider and getting Sox hitters to chase his curveball below the zone. Senzatela seemed to run out of gas late in the game, however, and the South Siders took advantage.
Senzatela finished with three earned runs allowed over 6 2⁄3 innings, scattering eight hits and letting up just a single walk to five strikeouts. His 91 pitches looked like this:
By the time the bases were loaded in the ninth, the odds of a Colorado win were high enough that the highest-pressure moment of the game came a batter earlier: The Ryan McMahon walk that got them there had an LI of 5.96.
The highest pLI of the game belonged to Kendall Graveman at 4.96, and uh, yeah, enough about that.
Is that the sound of AJ Pollock heating up? Pollock’s tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh inning had a WPA of .257, beating out the game-winning hit by a measly .015.
While he wasn’t a hero, Colorado shortstop José Iglesias’s .310 WPA was, cumulatively, the biggest contribution of any hitter today.
Hardest hit: 110.2 mph took the cake for the second consecutive game, this time resulting in a ground out off the bat of José Abreu in the second inning.
Weakest contact: Garrett Hampson’s 55.2 mph ground out in the first inning was the softest contact of the game.
Luckiest hit: The Seby Zavala bloop hit that sparked the Sox seventh inning rally had a microscopic .060 expected batting average (xBA).
Toughest out: In the fourth inning, Andrew Vaughn smoked a liner that had an xBA of .690 — but happened to be hit straight at third baseman Ryan McMahon.
Longest hit: The longest hit of the day didn’t leave the yard, but it was a run-scoring double that traveled 427 feet off the bat of Brendan Rodgers.
Magic Number: 36
Sit down for this one: 36 outs on the bases for the White Sox this season is tied for the most in the league, per the NBC Sports Postgame Show.
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 Your White Sox MVP?
This poll is closed
AJ Pollock (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R)
Tim Anderson (2-for-4, R, RBI)
Yasmani Grandal (1-for-4, 2 RBI)
Who Was Your White Sox Cold Cat?
This poll is closed
Kendall Graveman (0 IP, 3 BB, 2 ER, BS (5))
Leury García (1-for-4, Picked Off Third Base By The Catcher To End An Inning)
José Abreu (1-for-4, 4 LOB)