You might say Reynaldo López is back. You might also say that this Reynaldo López is new to the party.
I’d say López was the best possible version of himself this afternoon, bullying the Tigers with his fastball en route to 14 strikeouts over six innings. He had command when he wanted it, he had life when didn’t have command, and the slider and changeup were just effective enough to make the heat play up.
Thirteen of his 14 strikeouts came courtesy of his four-seamer, which were distributed evenly over his six innings. He struck out the side in the second and sixth, and two in all the other frames.
If there was one quibble, his control started to loosen up on him in the later innings, especially as his pitch count approached 100. He walked the leadoff batter in the fifth, but it was erased by Welington Castillo on an inning-ending SHOTHO. He issued another leadoff walk in the sixth, along with a two-out walk later in the inning.
Up came Brandon Dixon, and out came Don Cooper, perhaps letting López know he could air it out. López and Dixon locked horns, and as he was about to throw his seventh pitch, Dixon was granted a late time. López spun off the mound without throwing the ball as the crowd booed, but the reset didn’t hurt him. His 105th fastball sizzled past Dixon’s bat for the 14th strikeout and the end of the inning.
López only gave up two hits, one of them an RBI single after a Tim Anderson error allowed Ronny Rodriguez to reach with one out. Rodriguez stole second and scored on Grayson Greiner’s knock through the right side, but Rodriguez was cut down by Castillo when he tried the same thing later.
Castillo was the game’s second star, not only for catching a franchise-record 20 strikeouts (Jace Fry, Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colomé all struck out two), but for driving in the only two runs Sox pitchers needed. WIth the bases loaded and two outs, Castillo sliced a 1-2 fastball down the right field line for a two-run double that gave the Sox a rare 2-0 first-inning lead.
The Sox made Matthew Boyd work early, and they didn’t quite take advantage of it. He shook off the early struggles to throw five scoreless innings after, recording nine strikeouts of his own.
However, when the bullpen came in, the White Sox offense found a way to add insurance. Leury García succeeded on a squeeze bunt after two singles put runners on the corners in the seventh. An inning later, Yolmer Sánchez came up with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to make it a 4-1 game.
*Jose Rondón played left field as the Sox get used to life without Eloy Jiménez. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout before Adam Engel replaced him defensively, but López’s day means he wasn’t tested.
*The White Sox swept their first series of any length at home since Aug. 8-10, 2017, against the Houston Astros.
*Gordon Beckham played his 1,000th game and sported a golden sombrero at the end of it.
*Rick Renteria was ejected in the third inning by Tony Randazzo after Jose Abreu was called out for running inside the baseline on a strike three that got away. The replay showed that Abreu was indeed plunked on the fair side of first base, although it’s the second time in as many games that Abreu’s been out on a baserunning play you seldom see. Unlike Friday night, this one was worth trying.
Record: 11-14 | Box score
Good game. Lopez’s velocity was much lower to begin the season. He was sitting like 92-93 mph his first start. Now he is back up to 95 mph+. This particular game was probably the best version of himself, but I think he will have lots of quality starts if he can sustain the big fastball.
I am pretty hopeful for Lopez and Giolito. They both have been striking out more hitters than last year. That’s a pretty big improvement if they can sustain it. Their other numbers will go down when they hit the good side of the random variance parts of baseball.
Everyone’s striking out more hitters. There have been 400 more Ks than hits so far this season with about 7,000 of each. Last season there were 200 more Ks than hits with about 41,000 of each. Maybe they’re improving even relative to the new normal but I’d have to see the stats broken down to confirm that.
Your description makes it hard to understand how many strikeouts there are this year, or how much the strikeout rate has increased so for this year, or really what the heck you are talking about. Including today’s game, Lopez has a strikeout rate of 11.2 K/9 compared to 7.2 K/9 last year. So, he’s striking out 55% more batters per 9 innings than last year. Giolito was at 11 K/9 before the injury compared to 6.5 K/9 last year. That 69% more batters per 9 innings. Even if the K/9 numbers drop a bit, those are still big increases, and the increased K numbers will really enhance their value as starting pitchers.
Easier to understand percentages instead of K/9, which can be distorted by BABIP, walk rate, etc. because outs are the denominator and K% just has batters faced as the denominator.
Giolito 16.1% K 2018, 28.8% K 2019.
Lopez 18.9% K, 27.1% K 2019 (including today’s game)
So yeah, it’s a big difference!
My point is that hits are down and strikeouts are up across the league, but OBP and SLG are also up (all compared to last year). Since batters league wide are trading strikeouts for power and walks, it would take more than an increased K rate for me to say that a pitcher has improved. Giolito’s and López’s K rates are way up so maybe they actually have improved compared to the new normal but 1) it’s a small sample size so far and 2) there’s not much else to like about their lines so I’ll defer judgement.
more strike outs in general, yet Moncada has 18 fewer.
that’s a nice result.
Credit to the Sox coaching staff where it’s due: Steverson’s “selective aggression” concepts seem to have taken root with Anderson and Moncada. Not just plate discipline but also pitch recognition and selection.
That’s something even if the coaching doesn’t quite seem to resonate with as much of the lineup as the Mariners’ approach.
Can someone refresh my memory, what SHOTHO stands for? I google’ed but found nothing. Thanks
Selfishly Hurting Others Through Hunting Orangutans
Or, in a less accurate description: Strike Him Out Throw Him Out
A.k.a., my favorite baseball play.
I don’t actually think he had much better stuff or pitched much better in the game. He just got ridiculous results. Better control of the changeup is the only thing he really did differently in the data. And maybe effectively wild with the rest given the increase in swinging strikes.
But his fastball just maintained its pep from recent starts and its movement was only marginally improved from when he struggled last outing. He got lit up by the Mariners in his second start with basically the same pitch and the same control of the change.
Good for him but this looks more like variance around true talent than a new baseline.
Maybe they figured out he was tipping his pitches?
He could paint glove side whenever he wanted and his slider was commanded on the outside and down which allowed him to go to his fastball for 2 strike counts.
The command was a huge difference, the hitters were taking defensive swings instead of waiting for him to come into the zone and sitting dead red.
He walked 3 guys and went 3-2 on 5 of those strikeouts. The command didn’t seem that impressive to me; instead, it seemed to me like he was just facing a bunch of dudes who have no business being major league baseball players.
The walking 3 guys all seemed fatigue related and addressed in the post. But he lived on the outside black to righties.
He never lost his release point either which seemed to doom an inning or two in each of his first couple starts
I’ll file Miguel Cabrera under no business being a baseball player though
I know I’m an old guy and the game has changed, but one of my pet peeves is the magical ‘100’ pitch count. Truly arbitrary – I’ve seen pitchers out of gas at 70-75 pitches and I’ve seen ’em still going strong at 115-120 pitches. And if injury is the concern, a pitcher can hurt his arm on the first pitch, the 31st pitch, or any one of the pitches – even in bullpen before game. It seems pitchers are programmed at young age to only be expected to go 6 innings or so. My feeling is that mgr can see early if a pitcher doesn’t have it that day and needs to be pulled early. But on days when they have “it” and batters can’t touch it, extend them. And the corollary is that relief pitchers need to be changed every inning. My feeling is that if a reliever dominates, 3 up / 3 down with strikeouts, why can’t they be used for 4,5,6,7 outs?
It seems that taking pitchers out (whether starter or reliever) gives the mgr an out regarding to criticisms of his moves.
I’d love to see a mgr/pitching coach that fly by the seat of their pants and have an instinct as to when to change pitchers instead of sticking to a formula just to avoid being criticized.
It’s not that arbitrary. 100 pitches coincides with a lineup seeing a pitcher for a third time, or fourth if things are going well, and that’s when the damage is done.
I think there’s some evidence that, with some allowances for how the starting pitcher arrived at the total, fatigue typically starts to manifest around 60 pitches. And then a lot of what we see is the interaction of that fatigue with the decline in performance from the pitcher’s baseline talent, opponent quality, TToP, whether the pitcher has enough pitches to give a different look, and whether the pitcher can change up how they approach each hitter from PA to PA.
Given how much better hitters, coaching, and scouting are today, there just aren’t that many pitchers who are better than a fresh reliever by the time 100 pitches and/or 2+ times through the order rolls around. Especially if that reliever is reclaiming the platoon advantage.
Relievers aren’t trusted for more outs because of some combination of being able to go max effort in shorter stints, not having the pitch arsenal to work longer stints, the importance of maintaining small marginal advantages like platoon splits in high leverage situations, and the possible need to pitch on consecutive days. There aren’t that many relievers who should consistently do all that for more than an inning at a time but probably more than we currently see.
I’d rather see managers who know the data and research rather than taking dumb risks on a feeling that a guy’s got it tonight.
To check off the box:
Everybody, go read this. Will make you laugh, I promise.