Rick Hahn addresses (almost) all the White Sox injuries

Carlos Rodon and Luis Robert have timetables for a return to action, while Avisail Garcia and the others lag behind

With the White Sox returning to Chicago for an eight-game homestand on Thursday — which they opened with a win — Rick Hahn gave a dugout briefing about the White Sox, the first third of which was consumed by a spate of injury updates.

I’ve tried to arrange them from most encouraging to least encouraging.

*Carlos Rodon is the only one with a firm timetable. He’ll make his first start on Saturday for Kannapolis. He’s gotten stretched out some in extended spring training, and Hahn says that Rodon will throw in “in the neighborhood of five innings,” although he warned that he might give the Hickory Crawdads an advantage by saying so. He may only need a couple of starts in the minors if everything goes well.

*Luis Robert comes closest to having a date assigned for his return from a thumb injury, but there isn’t one yet. He’s hitting in cages and going through defensive drills, he hasn’t yet played in extended spring training games. That should happen by the end of the month, and Hahn put an “early June” tag on his stateside regular season debut in Winston-Salem, assuming he logs enough games in Arizona. (The Winston-Salem part is also contingent on Robert looking game for the level, but likely given that’s where Robert spent his time before rehabbing.)

*Avisail Garcia is described as “slowly progressing,” in that he’s been spotted doing outfield drills in Chicago. He pulled his hamstring on April 23, and the length of his absence would be less notable if Rick Renteria didn’t describe it as “mild to moderate” in the immediate aftermath, because it looked closer to “moderate to at least his leg is still attached” in real time. Hahn now calls it a Grade 2 strain and wouldn’t say Garcia has suffered setbacks. Instead, Hahn says that he’s just not yet asymptomatic and has to wait until his leg allows him to fully ramp up his workload.

*Alec Hansen is throwing bullpen sessions as he recovers from a forearm issue, but hasn’t yet began to make starts in extended spring training. Hahn described his work as “building” for now.

*Miguel Gonzalez, on the other hand, did suffer “a little setback” with his shoulder issue, according to Hahn. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection and won’t be throwing for 10 to 14 days.

*Kade McClure left his last start in the first inning after twisting his knee trying to field a ground ball (the game log had said that it was a line drive). Hahn said it doesn’t look like anything that will require surgery, but McClure will be out a few weeks with a sprain.

*A.J. Puckett has “no real update,” according to Hahn. His elbow is still bothering him.

*Victor Diaz (remember him?) has “a little shoulder issue,” and “there is no update.”

*Zack Burdi … OK, Hahn didn’t give an update on him in this session, but Erik asked about him on the Patreon Request Line, and Hahn has said before that Burdi could be ready for game action by the All-Star break. That’d be roughly a year after he underwent Tommy John surgery.

UPDATE: Scott Merkin has a well-timed Burdi update:

Friday marked Burdi’s fourth bullpen session of approximately 20 pitches off the mound at Camelback Ranch, and it was focused on fastballs, although he has incorporated sliders during warmups. Those lessons learned Burdi spoke of range from pitching mechanics to off-the-field preparation.

“I’ve really condensed my delivery, shortened my arm action,” Burdi said. “I’m kind of getting away from that side-to-side and getting more over the ball and getting when my arm comes out of my glove, getting up higher and not dropping it down and having this big loop and being late on my ball.

As for Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech, Hahn is still pitching a very conservative line, using July/the All-Star break as a time to reassess prospect assignments. A couple of ugly starts from Kopech, coupled with a clearer idea for Rodon’s return, make that notion a little less ridiculous.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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jorgefabregas

I believe a recent broadcast did mention a setback for Avi in the midst of some exercises.

jorgefabregas

It seems like the White Sox may have lost the Cooper/Herm injury-prevention and pitcher improvement sparkle in exchange for possibly now being somewhat competent at developing position players. I guess they’re not allowed to be competent at everything.

Anohito

This is great to see all this updated info on all these players in one place. Thanks Jim! Best of luck to all of them and speedy recovery.

Flitcraft

Kopech scheduled to start tonight, along with Dunning, Cease, and Rigler. Hot farm action.

lil jimmy

Hot farm action.
Rooster on chicken action. Oh baby

Patrick Nolan

I read the whole thing and I think that the tone was unnecessarily dismissive. The source is a notable architect of DRA, so consider the motives for this.

The conclusion is also a bit amiss. The year-to-year predictive correlations observed are ALL relatively weak and essentially about the same (as indicated by their own margin-of-error stats). Maybe the key takeaway is that xwOBA isn’t any better than FIP, DRA, at projecting subsequent years’ performance, but the reality is that all three of them are kinda bad at it, and to about the same degree.

The FanGraphs article linked within did have some findings that xwOBA stabilizes more quickly within a season than the other metrics, so I remain comfortable with its use in assessing good/bad luck and the type of regression to be expected within a season. I still think it’s better for this purpose than the other two metrics, even if all can be informative.

I put almost no stock in DRA doing a better job of correlating with itself between seasons than the other metrics because DRA incorporates the way the pitcher throws (velo, movement, location) into the calculations, and those stay relatively stable from year-to-year for a pitcher. I think including that in the laundry list of adjustments is a bad decision, because those things only determine whether a pitch is good or bad in the context of whether a hitter can expect it, so there’s some ignoring of game theory, tipping pitches, etc.

My biggest takeaway from the article is that when looking ahead from one season to the next xwOBA, DRA, and FIP can all have their uses and we should look at the message each is telling us to see whether it’s consistent, and if not, question why. I do, however, take issue with the rancor present in the article — the guy clearly had an agenda in researching this and reacted with glee when his preferred metric turned out to have comparable predictive value.

GreatjonHumber

Another takeaway is that Tango seems to have pretty thin skin – I remember reading another story recently with a similar reaction from him (maybe about the provenance of a newly developed stat?)

Greg Nix

I didn’t find the tone gleeful, but I do think there’s a problem in the way that xwOBA is presented. There’s an implied authority because it comes from MLB and Statcast, but it hadn’t occurred to me they haven’t released internal analysis of their own statistic, which is something BP and Fangraphs do routinely. If MLB is trying to become an advanced stat authority, they should hold themselves to a higher standard.

That said, I think the author should direct more of his antipathy towards the writers and broadcasters who started using xwOBA routinely without questioning it, rather than Tango and the team that released it.

Either way, I’d like to see them come up with a modeled version of xwOBA like Judge suggests.

Otter

That said, I think the author should direct more of his antipathy towards the writers and broadcasters who started using xwOBA routinely without questioning it, rather than Tango and the team that released it.

This is a guess, but I bet MLB is telling broadcasters to use it.

karkovice squad

I agree in part with both Nix and Nolan on the key parts of Judge’s analysis. BAM hyped or allowed others to hype Statcast-based analysis as being revolutionary improvements on our understanding of the game. At the moment they’re not delivering that. But that’s probably mostly an issue with presentation. BAM also isn’t making it easy to evaluate their products because of the twin decisions to both make their models proprietary and publish without release notes.

But a lot of that is pitch. I think when pressed, BAM falls back on an explanation that they’re not really looking to be an authority in the advanced stat community. Their mission is to provide tools that help baseball broadcasters communicate with their audience. The real revolutionary work is being done by teams and we’re mostly not privy to it at all.

Which doesn’t mean that BAM has to be dismissed and their products ignored. Even if they aren’t providing a revolutionary amount of predictive power, the “x” stats still make it easier to see how batted ball inputs are correlated with outcomes. It’s also useful to know the degree to which those outcomes are explained by things other than exit velocity and launch angle.

Going forward, BAM should be urged to provide more transparency even if that’s only release notes rather than making their models open source and peer-reviewed. And in the meantime, their work needs to be tested against existing stats and then used accordingly.

Otter

I didn’t find the tone dismissive or gleeful. And you nailed it when you said “Maybe the key takeaway is that xwOBA isn’t any better than FIP, DRA, at projecting subsequent years’ performance, but the reality is that all three of them are kinda bad at it, and to about the same degree.” That’s the key take away. It’s a tool that we can and should use, but it’s not as great of a tool as it’s being sold as, and, as you said, other metrics should still be considered and used.

Also, Judge’s (the author) previous work has been very useful and I think, is an accomplished lawyer fwiw.

Patrick Nolan

Within a season, though, xwOBA seems to be better.

Otter

Okay.

But pointing out/knowing that the MLB x stats are flawed should make us smarter fans/junior analysts; and this is especially true with newer ones (like the (fairly) huge UZR correction that went up for the 2012-2016 seasons on Fangraphs at the start of this season, oh maybe Matt Kemp and Viciedo weren’t as bad as we thought?). As we get new and better info or technology, they’ll be updated and improved. I’d venture to guess that the x stats will be even more accurate in five years than they are today.

They still have value, a ton of value, but we probably shouldn’t treat them as chapter and verse, as you pretty much said above.

Joist

Most judges start out as accomplished lawyers.

35Shields

I think it’s also a slight straw man.

MLB’s description of xBA:

Expected batting average is more indicative of a player’s skill than regular batting average, as xBA removes defense from the equation. Hitters, and likewise pitchers, are able to influence exit velocity and launch angle but have no control over what happens to a batted ball once it is put into play.

All that they’re claiming is that xBA has more predictive power than BA for pitchers and hitters. It does – albeit not a particularly large improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.

Knowing the expected outcomes of each individual batted ball… allows for the formation of said player’s xwOBA based on the quality of contact, instead of the actual outcomes.

I don’t even see any claim here about xwOBA for pitchers. To me, it seems primarily focused on hitters, which BP didn’t evaluate. And even here, they’re not claiming to be better than FIP or DRA. They’re claiming to have more predictive power than plain old wOBA – which, again, they do to a minor degree.

It’s somewhat interesting given that this exercise also shows no significant differences in the predictive power of DRA and FIP. I’m curious if the same author will write a followup “The Siren Song of DRA”.

It also seems a bit strange to talk about being wary of over-fitting given that BP revamps the formula for DRA like every season.

Patrick Nolan

Indeed. The over-fitting at BP seems to be a significant problem and maybe they should focus more on getting their historical stats to remain constant from one month to the next before throwing stones like this.

We all looked extensively at Welington Castillo’s BP framing data before the season. Look what happened to it (and the associated unsatisfactory explanation)

35Shields

The “we’ve updated the model” thing from BP is really frustrating to me.

It makes it really hard to understand, not only because these “updates” are largely opaque to the general public, but also because it means that all previous articles written about that metric are stale.

If I look up articles on the predictive value of DRA, most of them are no longer useful because the DRA that they talk about isn’t the one that we’re dealing with now.

Patrick Nolan

These are my thoughts exactly.

karkovice squad

Yeah, BP, having done a good job at launch for their newer stats, has done a poor job of explaining their revisions. Bit of a glass house.

Greg Nix

MLB Pipeline’s new mock has the Sox taking Singer with Madrigal still on the board. https://www.mlb.com/news/high-school-pitchers-rise-in-mlb-mock-draft/c-277173920?tid=151437456

Josh Nelson

Florida vs. Mississippi State – 6 pm CT / 7 pm ET ESPNU
Oregon State vs. USC – 9 PM CT / 10 pm ET Pac-12 Network

PauliePaulie

I think Madrigal has a higher floor and a higher ceiling. Even though Singer might be the “safest” pitcher in the draft, gotta be Madrigal for me.

Otter

As long as Philly takes Bohm, I’m good.

lil jimmy

This mock looks like “through a bunch of s— at the wall and see what sticks” Not the WS pick, the mock itself.

ParisSox

Tough break for McClure.  He was pitching well.  

GreatjonHumber

I remember him from such White Sox affiliates as Great Falls and Kannapolis.

TheBigHrabosky

Does anyone know where 2017 draftee Will Kincanon is in the organization? Is he in extended spring training or is he injured?

Greg Nix