If the first two games of the Yankees series are indicative of the remainder of the season, most of our enjoyment of the White Sox season is highly reliant on the quality of Eloy Jiménez’s contact.
When Jiménez hits nearly 900 feet of homers in one evening, it’s as satisfying as getting the right amount of snap underneath a pile of the correct toppings on a Chicago dog:
When Jimenez fails to connect and he and the rest of the lineup get one-hit by CC Sabathia and Co., it’s like being forced to eat Ballpark franks right out of the package in your local grocer’s refrigerated aisle.
Likewise, Jiménez is probably going to command the bulk of the attention from the greater baseball community when it comes to White Sox-related matters. That said, a couple of analysts have found non-Eloy trends to monitor, including one that resumes in the finale at Yankee Stadium.
That would be Carlos Rodón’s slider usage, which caught the eye of Eno Sarris at The Athletic. He notes that Rodon has essentially become a two-pitch pitcher, throwing nearly as many sliders as he is fastballs. That has him dodging the worst contact, but also makes it tough for him to navigate through a lineup three times with any matter of efficiency. Sarris paints Rodón as somebody better fit for a modern model of starter management, because the numbers won’t be bad, per se…
In sum, I think it’ll be tough to expect even 10 wins from Rodon, but he’ll probably have one of his better homer rates, and finish with an ERA that starts with three for the first time since his rookie year. In fact, those numbers from 2015 — when he had a 3.75 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP, a strikeout per inning and a walk every two innings — seem like a good guide for this year.
… but from a roto perspective, his impact will be limited. And the White Sox kinda leverage starters from a fantasy standpoint still. A right-handed opener for a lefty-killing Rodón is fun to think about if this is where he levels off after his shoulder surgery.
That might be premature, because Rodón wants the mix to change one way or another, whether his fastball velocity will rise when temperatures do, or because he thinks his changeup can contribute more to the mix. We’ll see if he can make any progress on either of these fronts against the Yankees today. The high is supposed to be in the low 60s.
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Then we have Yoan Moncada, whose last six games represent a cool-down compared to his first half-dozen. He’s hitting .296/.333/.556, and the hope is that he settles into a new baseline sooner rather than later.
There’s legit reason to think he’s raised his floor, because he’s attacking one of his biggest flaws from 2018 — his tendency to get backed into a corner. The question was whether he could be more aggressive without undercutting his best attribute. MLB.com’s Mike Petriello likes the balance he’s shown so far, which features:
- Swinging more inside the zone
- Being more aggressive on two-strike edge pitches, which is how he’s
- Avoiding striking out looking, and all the while he’s
- Making hard contact
If you want the year-over-year numbers from FanGraphs, they look like this:
If you prefer StatCast’s judgment for contact quality, that’s even better:
And if you’re a little worried about his chase rate rising, his two-strike pitch charts still look rather disciplined:
While there’s no such thing as a robust sample size in mid-April, that’s a fair amount of two-strike pitches he’s negotiated without being locked up or outguessed. There’s a chance he could relapse and pitchers will again play Stop Hitting Yourself with his selectivity, but I’m hoping the hard-hit rate and aggressiveness inside the zone will force pitchers to retreat further off the plate, and Moncada’s walks will be the product of being dangerous, rather than a byproduct of an approach that ultimately didn’t work.
And how about the Timmy hitting the ball and getting on base trend?
Pretty watchable so far.
There aren’t any notable new developments underneath it with him that make anything more sustainable. Chase rate, swing rate, whiff rate are all about the same, and he’s hitting more grounders than usual.
The hope is that he’s gotten better at making his approach work, and that it’s not just an insanely hot fortnight.
For whatever it’s worth, though, xwOBA (.340, pre-grand slam) likes him better than his past seasons.
The biggest changes are in pitch selection. Getting fewer fastballs, more off-speed+breaking. He’s not getting beat by the off-speed stuff right now.
Thanks for this, Jim. Things had been getting exceedingly dour down here. Causing some questionable, IMO, piling-on.
B-Ref Bug Comedy: