Following up: Another White Sox rookie meets the Royals’ running game

On Monday, Jeanmar Gomez gave up the winning run after he made a pitiful toss to third attempting to cut down the lead runner on a bunt.

Gomez’s presence prompts a lot of questions, and it’s worth the scrutiny. He’s 30 years old, he’s a free agent after the year, and he has a 5.00 ERA. Rick Renteria probably finds some comfort in veterans, and that can be detrimental to the development of prospects.

But watching Ryan Burr in the fifth inning on Wednesday, I was reminded that Ned Yost likes to torment rookie pitchers with the running game.

The Royals attempted three steals on Burr over his 1 2/3 innings. The first was a double steal where Welington Castillo couldn’t even throw.

Hunter Dozier tried adding a third after his RBI single with what Hawk Harrelson calls a Lance Johnson jump. He might’ve left a half-second too early, although who knows what Burr would’ve done if Dozier kept running.

It brought back memories of Chris Beck facing Terrance Gore, Jarrod Dyson and Whit Merrifield in 2016. It started with a pair of pitchouts Gore didn’t bite on, followed by Gore stealing on 3-0, and it went downhill from there.

Now, this might be an argument for bringing in Burr with the bases empty in the 10th versus two on and one out in the fourth — as in, wait until he has baserunners of his own before anybody can determine how well he holds them — but there’s one argument for using a veteran. Do with it what you will.

The good news is that Nate Jones looked fantastic in his first action since June 12, throwing seven of eight pitches for strikes and fanning Alex Gordon with a pair of perfect sliders.

“During the warmups, I could start feeling the adrenaline coming on being back in a big league game,” a noticeably happy Jones said. “I was lucky enough to keep those emotions under control and stuff like that. It feels good now and next step being make sure it feels good tomorrow, which I’m sure it will be.

“It’s a grind whenever you go on the DL. It’s a grind with all the boxes you have to check and all the exercises you have go through. But in the end it’s all worth it to get back out here. It was different and it was exciting. I got that adrenaline going and that was nice too.

* * *  * * *  * * *

Over at FanGraphs, Jay Jaffe pokes at Tommy John surgery trends after torn UCLs sidelined Michael Kopech and the pitching version of Shohei Ohtani.

There isn’t anything conclusive, because imagine the celebration around baseball if there were. But he points to a study from 2016 saying fastball usage had a stronger connection than fastball velocity when it comes to Tommy John surgery, which seems quite pertinent for a guy like Kopech.

However, research also revealed that the pitchers who received Tommy John surgery threw significantly more fastballs than the control group, with a 2% increase in risk for UCL injury for every 1% increase in fastballs thrown, and that fastball usage above 48% was “a significant predictor of UCL injury.”

For what it’s worth, the small sample of Kopech’s Pitch Info data for his four starts shows him throwing four-seam fastballs 62.5% of the time.

Chris Sale came to mind for me, as he was somebody who backed off his fastballs in different ways over the course of his White Sox career. Sometimes he’d throw his fastball 60 percent of the time and gear down on the velocity, seeing if he could get away with it. Sometimes he’d throw harder fastballs, but maybe only 51 or 52 percent of the time.

The latter approach is the one he’s chosen with the Red Sox, as his fastball rate is a touch under 50 percent with Boston, and he’s gone with more sliders instead. It’s worked for him in terms of velocity and success, although he’s been battling shoulder inflammation during the second half of this season. He made his first appearance for the Red Sox in a month on Tuesday as an opener, throwing 26 first-inning pitches as he battled erratic command.

Noah Syndergaard, he pitcher Kopech is most often compared to, also came out throwing fastballs 62 percent of the time in his rookie season. Three years later, he’s down to 53 percent as his changeup has become a bigger part of his arsenal. He also had a major injury to contend with, but it was a torn lat in 2017.

Kopech sounds like he’s comfortable being somebody who uses his fastball for strikes one, two and three, but I’m guessing one force or another will eventually level out his pitch mix.

* * *  * * *  * * *

Speaking of Kopech, my column for The Athletic on Monday was a companion piece to my hunt for silver lining here. Everybody knows that pitchers are likely to get injured, and the White Sox had to plan for it, but why does it still feel so gutting?

The seven straight losses add to the pall, but here’s my attempt to figure out the rest of it:

This season, the answer to those questions resulted in a team that’s flirting with 100 losses. Maybe the Sox are truly taking it step by step, and everything will be better the second time around, but they won’t have the benefit of the doubt.

That right there is my best guess for why Kopech’s injury registers as such a blow. It takes the last chance for true progress off the board, and now everybody’s resigned to another 60-something-win summer before this one is even over. It turns out the light at the end of the tunnel was a sign reading “162 MORE GAMES OF TUNNEL.”

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Anohito

There was light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just the tunnel caved in and now we got to feel around in the dark until we can see light again.

It was painful hearing those bad throws and frames from Castillo. Beef has fallen way out of favor with me and I’d imagine a lot of others with his whole PEDscapades. And his very lackluster return as a result of his missing time (and probably not having drugs anymore) just makes me question even more why we still have to see him. But I suppose he will be our starting catcher for now for better or for worse. Such a shame.

mikeyb

The double-steal against Burr was especially brutal, because the next pitch induced what would have been an easy double-play ball for Anderson. But because the infield was drawn in, it got through and plated the runners.

Marty34

We’ll see the light only after a regime change that more than likely has to start at the ownership level.

Marty34

The last time the Sox played a game after August when in 1st place was 9/25/12. A loss to Corey Kluber and the Indians. Some guy named Russ Canzler had 3 hits for the Indians and Brent Lillibridge was their starting 3rd baseman. Liriano started for the Sox and Quintana pitched in relief.

Attendance was 13,797. I’m sure there was attendance shaming from the Chicago media who of course missed the big story which was the beginning of the crumbling of the franchise.

They haven’t played a game after August within 13 games of first with Hahn as the GM. For comparison’s sake the Cubs have played 68 straight games after August when in first place.

roke1960

And yet we will probably be stuck with Hahn until Jerry sells the team. There is no pressure to win when your job is secure.

Marty34

When you consider the expanded playoffs and being in a division with the spending lightweights of MLB the last decade of Sox baseball is extraordinary in it’s futility. We got the right guys steering the ship though. My goodness are new ideas needed for this franchise.

roke1960

This needs to be the winter that this franchise takes the big step towards a championship. Using the Kopech injury as an excuse not to spend is very, very lame. What happens when someone else goes down with an injury next year? Do we wait till the following winter? They need to stop making excuses and start ponying up for big time talent. Otherwise, the sox will be in a perpetual rebuild- which probably doesn’t bother Hahn because his job is safe.

Anohito

Why is it so hard to get people who actually care about winning and not just their job or the bottom line. I feel this applies to the Bulls (obviously same owner) and Bears too (the mccaskeys just seem so old and don’t give a shit) Are so many human beings really that scummy? And on that note, don’t these people also realize that winning and being successful also help their job and the bottom line, we’ve literally seen it up close with Wirtz the younger and Ricketts. Come on jeez…

roke1960

I agree, though I think the Bears have recently gotten the memo and did a great job over the last offseason. But it started with a regime change for the Cubs and Hawks, and now with the Bears. Jerry’s blind loyalty will not allow a regime change for either of his teams. I’m not confident in these Bozos (namely Hahn) being able to actually put a winner on the field.

David I

Agreed– It is insane that the Sox haven’t been able to make the playoffs two years in a row in this Division, when nearly every other team has been able to put a string together.  The Sox really had a chance in the 2000s to win over a new generation of fans in Chicago while the Cubs were bad.  That is lost with the Cubs doing what the Sox could have done in such a weak Division. 

Lurker Laura

I actually have a fun White Sox fan story. Really, they exist!

I was at a luncheon today where Lonnie Bunch was the keynote speaker. He is the head of the Smithsonian African American Museum in DC. He was at the Chicago History Museum for a long time before that. He’s amazing. Anyway, during the Q&A, somebody asked him what he missed about Chicago. After some food and culture mentions, he paused and said, “Honestly, I miss the White Sox.”

It was awesome. I mean, it’s inexplicable, but also awesome.

lil jimmy

The problem with LL. It took her so long to post.

Always worth while.

Lurker Laura

I’ve been Sox hibernating.