In a spring that’s already been filled with a season’s worth of brutal losses, that’s one of the toughest win probability charts I’ve seen out of the White Sox in 2023. They fell to the Tigers in heartbreaking fashion earlier this afternoon, with Joe Kelly allowing critical runs for the second consecutive day after Keynan Middleton and Kendall Graveman were somewhat bafflingly lifted from the game having thrown just 12 and six pitches, respectively. As has been the pattern more often than not this season, the offense failed to click with the game on the line, stranding their runner on second in extra innings and losing when the Tigers failed to do the same.
The Sox return home tomorrow to start a three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels, and for at least some good news, it appears they won’t have to rely on Joe Kelly to close games when they do:
Your journey is an inspiration. We couldn’t be more proud.— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 28, 2023
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Dylan Cease once again strongly resembled his erratic 2021 iteration rather than the Cy Young runner-up from 2022, needing 102 laborious pitches to get through just four innings of work, somehow managing to work around four hits and four walks with the exception of one notable and unfortunate pitch that we’ll get to talking about in a bit. Eight of the 12 outs he recorded this game came via strikeout, but his breaking ball command was as erratic as we’ve seen it in 2023. He simply could not throw the slider in (or even near) the strike zone, and when he managed to get the curveball over, he often hung it pretty badly:
The Tigers had the bases loaded in both the second and third innings, and even the comparatively easy first and fourth innings (in which he faced three and four batters) were filled with deep counts and high-effort plate appearances. All told, Cease wound up with 102 total pitches, which looked like this:
On the opposite side, the White Sox offense was once again shut down by Detroit’s starter, though at least Eduardo Rodriguez has a bit more of a track record than Michael Lorenzen. E-Rod’s outstanding start to his second year as a Tiger continued, lowering his ERA to a sterling 2.13 — still third in the AL, behind Sonny Gray and Shane McClanahan — with six innings of one-run ball, walking two and striking out six. Rodriguez masterfully commanded a relatively simple three-pitch mix of four-seam fastballs, cutters, and changeups that tunnel well and all sit within 6-8 mph of each other, making it relatively easy to work out of jams with weak contact whenever he put runners on base.
Here’s what his even century of pitches looked like overall:
One out in the bottom of the ninth with a tying run on third base is almost as high-leverage as it gets, which results in the 5.94 LI faced by Javier Báez when he grounded out to score Riley Greene.
Reynaldo López came on with an automatic runner on second in the bottom of the 10th with the game tied. The result? A 4.13 pLI over the two outs he managed to record before said runner scored.
Grand slams swing things one way or another about as much as possible in one plate appearance, and Akil Baddoo’s today gave Detroit .373 WPA, most of any today.
Despite Baddoo’s big swing, Riley Greene reached base three times today, scoring in two of them and running up a game-high .310 cumulative WPA.
Hardest hit: Clint Frazier scored one for the 2017 Top 100 Prospect List truthers, leading the game with a 109.2 mph ground out in inning No. 2.
Weakest contact: Javier Báez wears the crown with weak grounders of 51.7 and 52.1 mph, though the latter was all it took to get the W.
Luckiest hit: Andrew Vaughn’s single in the ninth had a .150 xBA.
Toughest out: Riley Greene’s WPA doesn’t even include his defensive work, as he took away a hit from Jake Burger on a ball with a .970 xBA that would have been gone in 26 out of the other 29 parks.
Longest hit: You just watched it: Burger’s fly out soared a game-high 418 feet.
Magic Number: 2013
The White Sox and Cubs are currently the third- and fourth-worst teams in baseball, perhaps a 10-year anniversary celebration of the teams that combined to lose 195 games, the most in Chicago’s history. We can still set records this year — just not the good kind.
CSW called strikes plus whiffs
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 afternoon?
This poll is closed
Tim Anderson (3-for-5, RBI, R)
Romy González (1-for-4, HR)
Eloy Jiménez (1-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB)
Who was your White Sox cold cat this afternoon?
This poll is closed
Dylan Cease (4 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB, 8 SO)
Luis Robert (0-for-5, 3 SO, critical error in CF on Greene triple)
Pedro Grifol (victim of Rick Hahn’s SuperBullpen)