The White Sox have won their second series in a row. In convincing fashion, too, as today’s 17-4 thrashing of the Reds tied 2021’s memorable 17-13 slugfest against the Cubs as the highest-scoring contest since this group of White Sox core players reached the big leagues. It rendered Michael Kopech’s shakiness moot, and sends this moribund team back across the Mississippi into Kansas City on probably the highest note they’ve experienced so far in 2023.
Michael Kopech was not awesome today; His fastball velocity was down almost 2 mph from his season average for most of the day, his feel was spotty for his slider and nonexistent for his curveball and changeup, both of which he has increasingly (and problematically) declined to throw this year. As a result, a frankly atrocious Reds lineup was able to put the ball in the air consistently — and in Great American Ballpark, that meant four solo home runs, a continuation of an issue that Kopech has been entirely unable to get off his back this year. He did manage to make it through six innings, though he struck out only two and generated just six swings-and-misses all afternoon.
On the whole, his 102-pitch outing looked like this:
Graham Ashcraft did not have the good stuff today. The velocity was there, for sure, as he averaged a cool 97 mph on both of his fastballs, and he was able to generate a decent-enough share of swings-and-misses. But Ashcraft couldn’t stop leaving those fastballs over the heart of the plate, and after seeing them for an inning, the Sox started hunting (and smashing) those high fastballs, velocity be damned. The locations of the hits he allowed tell the story well enough:
All in all, Ashcraft failed to make it out of the second inning, far and away his shortest outing of his season — he’s gotten through at least six in five of his six starts prior to this one — and threw only 52 pitches on the afternoon. The big picture on ’em looked like this:
Not a ton of leverage in this one, and for once, it worked out in Chicago’s favor: The highest LI of the day checked in at 2.68, on Andrew Benintendi’s bases-loaded single that opened the offensive floodgates in the second inning.
Aided by that high-pressure single up the middle, Benintendi’s 0.55 pLI was enough to lead all players this afternoon.
Just edging out Benintendi’s key hit was Hanser Alberto’s two-run blast to open the scoring in the second inning, giving the Sox .158 WPA.
Alberto’s .162 WPA was the highest of the day for the Sox, what with his run production coming at a time when it seemed like they were on pace to lose.
Hardest hit: The suddenly-heating-up Luis Robert Jr. takes the cake for the second straight day, this time on a double that left the bat at 108.8 mph.
Weakest contact: Adam Haseley got some burn today, but all he could do with it was hit a 54.8 mph dribbler in the seventh inning.
Luckiest hit: Tim Anderson’s fifth-inning single against Reiver Sanmartin had an .070 xBA, the lowest on any of today’s 26 total hits.
Toughest out: The Reds did hit Michael Kopech pretty hard, Nick Senzel not the least of whom, whose 100.8 mph force out in the fifth inning had a .580 xBA.
Longest hit: Gavin Sheets got a hold of one in the second inning, and it went a long way — 410 feet, to be exact.
Magic Number: 34
Tim Anderson, Eloy Jiménez, Yoán Moncada, and Luis Robert have all been in the lineup together a total of 34 games since the start of the 2021 season, a number that isn’t in danger of changing anytime soon.
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 today’s White Sox MVP?
This poll is closed
Andrew Vaughn (3-for-5, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI)
Hanser Alberto (4-for-4, HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI)
Luis Robert Jr. (2-for-2. 2 BB, 4 R, 2 RBI)
Gavin Sheets (2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI)
Who was today’s White Sox cold cat?
This poll is closed
Michael Kopech (6 IP, 4 ER, BB, 2 SO)
Seby Zavala (0-for-5)
Tim Anderson (1-for-4, BB, 2 R)