Cardinals 3, White Sox 2: Shields was good, Soria wasn’t.

Holding on to a one-run lead for the Chicago White Sox bullpen is a tough ask these days. One can only be sure of a bumpy ride that will end in an unpleasant outcome. Like tonight for example, after Bruce Rondon and Nate Jones flirted with danger, it was Joakim Soria that meltdown in the ninth inning. Matt Carpenter tied the game with a solo home run, Marcell Ozuna doubled with one out, and Yadier Molina walked-it-off with a single to left field as the St. Louis Cardinals won 3-2.

What makes tonight unsatisfying is how well James Shields pitched. At the late stages of his career, there are not too many performances left like this one for the veteran. After allowing a lead-off home run to Tommy Phan, Shields shut down the Cardinals lineup by retiring 15 straight hitters. In the sixth inning, Kolten Wong’s slow chopper allowed him to reach with an infield single, but he was cut down on at second by a dart from catcher Welington Castillo on a strike ’em out, throw ’em out.  Over six innings of work, Shields only allowed the two hits, one earned run, walking none and striking out four.

Yoan Moncada provided the runs in the fourth inning. With one out, Cardinals starter Michael Wacha walked Trayce Thompson and Adam Engel. Both would get themselves 90 feet closer to scoring with stolen bases as Thompson took third base with Shields striking out, and Engel would steal second in Moncada’s at-bat. On a 2-1 pitch, Moncada laced a liner to left that was dropping quickly. Left fielder Marcell Ozuna misplayed the hop as he couldn’t get in position to make the catch allowing two runs to score and Moncada picking up his eighth double.

After the fourth inning, the White Sox offense couldn’t generate any more threats. Moncada finished the night 2-for-5 but had a third hit taken away from him in the third inning as he was initially called safe on an infield single. Naturally, the MLB replay office in New York had a camera angle that they can only see that Moncada’s foot was millimeters off first base as the ball reached the pocket of Matt Carpenter’s glove. Also worth noting that Moncada didn’t strike out tonight.

Also not striking out tonight was Matt Davidson. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk, putting him at 16 for the season and just three short of matching last season’s total.

The White Sox are now 3-17 against teams not the Kansas City Royals.

Record: 8-19 | Box Score

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Shingos Cheeseburgers

The Sox of the last 5 years have trained us so well to be frustrated by losses like this but to easily dismiss them because the season is going nowhere and/or the loss can be pinned on a party that will be a footnote to a lost chapter in Sox history. 

At least for me it’s going to be a real tough mental adjustment to deal with losses like this when it’s major prospects and/or long term FAs blowing a game in a season where expectations are high and one loss is the difference between making the playoffs or not as opposed to picking 9th or 10th in the draft. Don’t get me wrong that’s a great problem to have but it’s going to be a tough adjustment to not instinctively dismiss every loss as part of the rebuild and having to be critical of cornerstone players due to lack of results and not complimentary to prospects for success in processes. 

Greg Nix

In addition to being bad, it feels like this team has been fairly unlucky. They were blasting balls off Wacha early, but almost every one found a glove. Hopefully the luck will turn — a winning streak would be fun. 

Lurker Laura

What is our bullpen situation going forward? I know all about our top position player and starting pitcher prospects. But other than Burdi, what’s the plan for having a good bullpen? I know many of the SP prospects are talked about in “may not stick, will have to be converted to reliever” terms. But so far, the Sox aren’t converting anybody. So when the Sox are better next year, and good the year after that, who’s going to be in the bullpen? Even on a team with low expectations, I’m tired of my heart sinking when we go to the ‘pen.

PauliePaulie

Lopez, Fulmer, Stephens, Cease, Clarkin, Fry, Hickman, Martinez, Hamilton all get varying degrees of “future ‘Pen arm” placed on them, or have already been moved there.
My $ is still on Burdi, Cease, Lopez, Fulmer, Hamilton, Stephens + unknown Lefty forming a hell of a “Pen.

Smclean09

I have more faith in Lopez to stick in the rotation than most and I think Bummer has a chance to be added to the list. Think in a couple years he will be a decent K/9 and GB guy that sticks for a couple years. Don’t think he is a LOOGY though.

Reindeer Games

Do people actually still have Lopez to the bullpen takes? He’s pretty much solidified back-end starter as a floor at this point no?

Smclean09

Still issues with command and Velo/offspeed consistency later in games.
I think the slider’s improvement makes me less skeptical. Though I always liked him a bit more than Gio
I saw Cease as a BP arm too, but he is showing some growth with his control so far too

Reindeer Games

I have concerns that he’ll ever hit his ceiling, but he’s shown he can be at the very least a serviceable starter at this point, even if it’s a back-end rotation guy. He’s not going to the bullpen.

PauliePaulie

The emergence of other starters could force a guy like Lopez to the ‘Pen even if he would be a starter on most teams.
Sort of like the situation in Houston.

Smclean09

Well I would say control is going to lead to endurance. More important then the 7 IP last night were the lack of walks and deep counts.

Patrick Nolan

No. Lopez has been bad. Horseshoe up his ass.

Patrick Nolan

Giolito’s been slightly worse. One’s been getting hit like every hitter is 2017 Justin Upton. The other’s been getting hit like every hitter is 2017 Buster Posey. Either way, neither’s been encouraging.

Smclean09

Lopez has gotten lucky for sure, but his stuff has looked a ton better and hitters haven’t been able to sit on his fastball. The command is the only issue between walks and getting behind in the count (obviously leads to higher xstats).
He has looked much better than Gio

Patrick Nolan

The other issue is that hitters are making hard contact that isn’t going for hits. Say what you will about Giolito, but he hasn’t been getting hit all that hard…it’s just that he’s not throwing enough strikes to get K’s or limit BBs

Smclean09

That would be the lucky part I mentioned.

Patrick Nolan

Well then what’s your point? We’re talking about a pitcher with the following attributes:

1) Walks way too many guys
2) Gets hit hard
3) Below-average strikeout rate

I don’t see what part of that equation is encouraging. You say “the stuff has looked a ton better”…opposing hitters don’t seem to care.

Greg Nix

I’d argue that consistently going 6 innings is encouraging, even if it comes with luck, as his stamina was (and is) a question. He’s certainly demonstrated a better foundation of skills and results to build on than Giolito or Fulmer thus far — faint praise, I know. 

Smclean09

The point is that last season his stuff wasn’t good enough to get away with just throwing strikes, and they were fouling off out pitches out of the zone. This year his stuff is better and if he was getting a head in the count…. he would walk less and give up lesser contact. If he could get to more 2 strike counts he will get his swing and misses.
Whether or not he improves his command enough will be something to watch.

mikeyb

Sounds like the profile of a guy who could end up in the bullpen…

Smclean09

Yeah, I’d say if he doesn’t throw strikes.

Patrick Nolan

RE: Smclean:

Reynaldo Lopez 2017 DRA: 6.07
Reynaldo Lopez 2018 DRA: 7.15

Reynaldo Lopez 2017 xwOBA: .329
Reynaldo Lopez 2018 xwOBA: .365

You’re trying to spin a narrative around improvement that isn’t there.

Smclean09

Is DRA even reliable in the amount of innings he has thrown this year (serious question)?
Hitters are making less contact out of the zone, he is pitching later in games, and his velocity has climbed back up after it dipped last year. That backs up that his stuff looks better, but if he isn’t getting ahead then he isn’t going to be able to get hitters to chase and yes that will limit his K rate.

We have already seen starts where he can look really really good when he has command the last two years. You can’t argue that several times last year he was a two pitch pitcher.

I would give a young pitcher a chance to improve there. Not that he has been good thus far. My take is obviously more subjective and probably even wrong, and I’d wear that.

Patrick Nolan

I’m skeptical of smaller-sample DRA when it doesn’t corroborate (advanced) information found elsewhere. For example, his 6.07 DRA from 2017 seemed out of line with his considerably less-scary xwOBA. The 2018 number also seems a little high, but not quite as much as an exaggeration.

mikeyb

I’m expecting quite a few games like this the rest of the year, and the bullpen hasn’t done anything to make me expect otherwise. So the loss wasn’t incredibly disappointing.

The one moment that did get me annoyed for a moment was Tim Anderson’s 3-0 popup on a pitch that was barely in the strike zone. He’s been so much better with his approach this year; it was just a disappointing reminder that he’s still got room for improvement (he did also have a walk in this game, so I can’t complain too much).

Soxfan2

In other news, the Brewers DFA’d RHP Oliver Drake. He’s a right handed relief pitcher with a career 25.3% K rate in 102 innings. His main problem has been walks. I don’t see any reason why the White Sox don’t claim him for practically free and see if Coop can fix his walk problem. If he can be fixed, he’s a good trade chip. Even if Coop can’t fix him, he’s been worth 0.2 WAR which would make him better than majority of the current bullpen. 

Patrick Nolan

40-man roster crunch is one reason.

Soxfan2

Chris Beck has no business being on the 40 man roster at this point. He’s someone you can easily move off.

GrinnellSteve

Is it time to make Leury the closer?

I’m asking for a friend.

mikeyb

Is your friend Robin Ventura?