What a nail-biter to start the season! The Sox broke the Astros' streak of 10 consecutive Opening Day wins, and this game was full of fun and cool stats.
It was Dylan’s Cease’s first-ever Opening Day start. Coming off of a magnificent season in which he went 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA, 227 strikeouts, 126 hits, and 1.11 WHIP in 184 innings and finished second in Cy Young voting, Dylan came out firing on all cylinders tonight. He was outstanding, as he gave up only one run on two hits, no walks, and struck out 10, which tied him with Jack McDowell for the White Sox Opening Day record. Cease had an overall 33% whiff rate and 45% specifically on his knuckle curve, which seemed to throw the Astros completely off-balance. Cease was so nasty that he even impressed Roger “Rocket” Clemens.
Cease’s incredible 86-pitch, 6 1⁄3 -inning outing looked like this:
The Astros sent their ace, Framber Valdez, to the mound for Opening Day. He had an exceptional regular season last year for Houston, setting a single-season record with 25 consecutive quality starts and finishing fifth in the AL Cy Young race. In 2022, Valdez went 17-6 with a 2.82 ERA, 194 strikeouts, and 1.16 WHIP. His 2023 debut tonight was solid, as he only gave up six hits, no walks, and struck out four in five innings pitched. He did hit Vaughn with a pitch in the top of the fifth.
Valdez’s 85-pitch, five-inning outing looked like this:
In the top of the seventh, the Sox had the bases loaded with two outs. Eloy Jiménez struck out swinging. Eloy struggled tonight, leaving a total of eight runners on base. The play had an LI of 4.87.
There was a whole lot of pressure throughout this tight game. Again, Jiménez felt it most and came up empty-handed, going 0-for-5. He had the highest pLI, at 2.58.
Andrew Vaughn came in clutch with his double to center in the top of the ninth inning, scoring Tim Anderson and Luis Robert Jr. with the winning run. The play had a WPA of .357.
Our ace, Dealin’ Cease, was the MAN tonight with a WPA of .287.
Hardest hit: Yordan Álvarez had the most pop in his bat, with his ninth inning home run bomb at 111.9 mph which traveled 442 feet.
Weakest contact: The Sox newest right fielder, Romy González’s third inning ground out, was the wimpiest attempt of the night at 59.3 mph.
Luckiest hit: Andrew Benintendi’s single in the top of the fourth inning dribbled in with a .310 xBA.
Toughest out: Benny nabs this category, too with the line out he smoked to José Abreu in the top of the second inning with a .730 xBA.
Longest hit: That ninth inning home run by Álvarez was the superstar play tonight, but it wasn’t quite enough to help the Champs secure a win. It landed 442 feet away in right center field.
Magic Number: 10
Ten strikeouts in his Opening Day debut for Dylan Cease. If he keeps that pace up, he’ll have 320 strikeouts for the season. Don’t laugh, it’s plausible. Gerrit Cole hit 326 in 2019.
Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLId 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 is your White Sox MVP?
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Yasmani Grandal: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, .190 WPA
Dylan Cease: 6 1⁄3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 10 SO, .287 WPA
Andrew Vaughn: 1-for-4, 1 H, 2 RBI, .216 WPA
Reynaldo López: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 SO, .084 WPA
Who was your White Sox Cold Cat?
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Eloy Jiménez: 0-for-5, 8 LOB, -.267 WPA
Yoán Moncada: 1-for-5, 3 SO, 1 LOB, -.106 WPA
Aaron Bummer: 2⁄3 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO, -.114 WPA
Andrew Benintendi: 1-for-4, 1 SO, -.053