For the first time in nine tries, the White Sox won a baseball game, staving off the imminent threat of a sub-.500 season for yet another day on the back of a gutsy outing from Lucas Giolito and four innings of bullpen work. The Sox now hold a one-game lead over the Twins for the second-place spot that White Sox ownership so dearly craves, much to the chagrin of those who get their kicks cheering for a higher spot in next year’s draft.
If this was Lucas Giolito’s last turn in the rotation for the 2022 season — and based on the 90.8 mph he averaged on his fastball, the second-slowest he’s ever registered in a start, it probably should be — it wasn’t the worst way to go out, given the shockingly diminished stuff he’s worked with for much of this season. As has been the case for much of the season, Giolito struggled early on, giving up two runs on four hits in the first inning before settling down to work through five with just those two runs to his name. If we’re looking for reasons to be optimistic, we can point to yet another excellent outing for his changeup, which seems to have regained some of its mojo in September after struggling for much of the year to find the success it did from 2019-21. It followed up two consecutive starts with a CSW% of 50% or better with a still-excellent 37% today, and entering today’s game, hitters had posted just a .104 wOBA (and hardly better expected wOBA) against the pitch since late August.
The whole of Giolito’s 93-pitch outing looked like this:
St. Paul native Louie Varland made his fourth career start for the big club today, following a successful minor league season that saw him post a 3.06 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 126 1⁄3 innings (23 starts) between Double- and Triple-A. The righthander’s stuff was good, if not fantastic, buzzing a mid-90s fastball past Sox hitters that did more than enough to keep them off his mid-eighties straight change that he was able to throw for a strike. Though he didn’t miss many bats, Sox hitters didn’t put up much of a fight — what else is new — as RBI hits from Romy González and Mark Payton were the only dents in his line after five innings.
Varland’s 74-pitch outing looked like this:
The Ryan Jeffers squeeze bunt that tied the game — and momentarily seemed to send the Sox veering towards their ninth straight loss — came with a game-high 3.78 LI.
In true closer fashion, the 2.73 pLI shouldered by Liam Hendriks in the course of his 34th save was the day’s highest.
The first RBI hit of the night was, supposedly, the one that did the most of any, as Gordon’s bases-loaded double in the first inning had a .178 WPA.
Notch one for the hometown kid — Mark Payton’s .333 cumulative WPA was the highest for either side. Did you know he went to St. Rita?
Hardest hit: At 109.4 mph, Carlos Correa’s first-inning single against Giolito was the hardest-hit ball of the day.
Weakest contact: Jeffers’ sixth-inning squeeze was dribbled back to the pitcher at just 39.2 mph.
Luckiest hit: That single had an expected batting average of just .210, lowest of any safety on the day.
Toughest out: The double-play ball that Nick Gordon smoked straight at José Abreu at first base carried a tall .740 xBA.
Longest hit: Abreu’s double was also the longest hit of the game, rattling off the right-field wall 367 feet from home.
Magic Number: 253
With his two base hits today, José Abreu reached base for the 252nd and 253rd times this season, putting him 10 shy of the career-high of 263 set during his rookie year.
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
Mark Payton (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI)
José Abreu (2-for-4, 2B, RBI)
Lucas Giolito (5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO)
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat today?
This poll is closed
Gavin Sheets (0-for-3, 2 LOB)
AJ Pollock (0-for-3, BB, 3 LOB)
Elvis Andrus (0-for-5, 3 LOB)