Well, the White Sox (6-10) played a game today. For a while, it looked as if they might win that game. As the win probability chart above demonstrates, they did not win that game. It wasn’t a game in which anything special happened, but a simple manner of execution. The Baltimore Orioles hit bad pitches and avoided mistakes more than the White Sox for more or less the entirety of this three-game series, and as a consequence, the Sox have yet to register a series win as we approach the 2 1⁄2-week mark of the 2023 season.
On to the stats...
Though Dylan Cease has certainly taken of the mantle of “stopper” in the rotation since the start of last season, he struggled with efficiency for the third consecutive start, walking five — the second time in those three starts he’s reached that number — and allowing four runs, two of them earned. It’s the second straight game in which he’s been tacked for two runs that didn’t officially belong to him, though he himself was responsible for the error that allowed those two runs to score. He did, at the very least, make it through the sixth inning for the first time since his Opening Day masterpiece against Houston.
It’s also the first time that he wasn’t able to bear down and see the Sox through to a victory despite not being as sharp as he’d like. He simply couldn’t command a breaking ball to save his life today; though he threw more sliders than any other pitch, about as many of them skipped off the plate as landed in the zone:
Ultimately, the walks came back to bite him, and even though he was spotted a 4-0 lead and looked relatively in control through three innings, Cedric Mullins finally broke the ice with a two-RBI triple in the fourth. Cease has won enough games nearly singlehandedly that it’s hard to be overly critical, but the unfortunate fact is that he just couldn’t bear down when it quite mattered, losing focus with runners in scoring position (you’ll see in a moment) and for seemingly the first time in ages simply struggled to get a swing-and-miss when he needed one. Overall, his 113 pitches (a new career-high) looked like this:
And here’s Cease’s pitch mix:
Making his third big-league start after a lot of consternation over his presence (or lack thereof) on Baltimore’s roster come Opening Day, Grayson Rodriguez struggled to locate early on, and was punished for it, but ultimately settled in for an effective five innings, allowing just those four runs and striking out eight alongside two walks. Though he does have a true five-pitch starter’s arsenal, Rodriguez mostly worked a simple fastball-changeup (to lefties)-slider (to righties), and it was a hanging curve that Gavin Sheets belted into the right field crowd for three of those four runs. The four-seamer, however, sizzled it at 96 mph on average, and Sox hitters were repeatedly thrown off by his changeup, which generated an excellent eight whiffs on 17 swings (46%). Rodriguez is going to be a very effective pitcher once he’s made it around the league a time or two.
Overall, his 93 pitches looked like this:
Pitch visuals, below:
Though the offense is certainly frustrating, Dylan Cease had the game in his hands with two runners in scoring position, a one-run lead, and game-high 4.80 LI against Cedric Mullins. Unfortunately, this happened.
Baltimore’s Terrin Vavra went 0-for-3 while facing the most pressure of all his peers, accumulating a 2.07 pLI this afternoon.
That pressure play wasn’t the first time Mullins was at the plate in a big spot, with a positive outcome for the Birds. His fourth-inning triple against Cease scored Gunnar Henderson and Vavra, and added a game-high .183 WPA for their side.
Though Mullins had a huge day, the top WPA-adder for the road team was Jorge Mateo, whose 0.29 WPA edged Mullins by just a single point.
Hardest hit For the second straight day, Jorge Mateo (???) did his best Luis Robert Jr. impression, plastering an eighth-inning double against Aaron Bummer at 111 mph, the tops of the day.
Weakest contact Credit due, Lenyn Sosa managed to make the most out of the game’s weakest contact, turning a game-low 56.3 mph grounder into an infield single.
Luckiest hit That hit’s .230 xBA doesn’t take the cake though, as Seby Zavala’s had a .160 xBA single today.
Toughest out Shocking, I know, but Adley Rutschman did his job against Jake Diekman in the eighth, scalding a 100.4. mph line out with a big ol’ even .900 xBA.
Longest hit The action started early with Gavin Sheets’ three-run round tripper, and at 370 feet, it was the farthest anything would fly today.
Magic Number: 14th (of 15), -1.09
-1.09 is the cumulative amount of Win Probability Added that White Sox relievers have produced this season. That is the second-worst mark in the American League, ahead of only the Oakland Athletics, whose chances of actually putting nine players on the field seem ever-scarcer by the day. Maybe eight, plus an opossum.
Per Spotrac, only the Los Angeles Dodgers have spent more on their bullpen than the White Sox since 2021. Another Rick Hahn masterclass graces the pages of the Sunday Six Pack.
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 this afternoon’s "MVP?"
This poll is closed
Gavin Sheets (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI)
Jake Burger (1-for-3, HR, BB)
Dylan Cease (6 IP, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 SO)
Who was this afternoon’s Cold Cat?
This poll is closed
Aaron Bummer (L, 0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 ER)
Eloy Jiménez (0-for-4, Golden Sombrero)
Jake Diekman (IP, ER)