The White Sox open a series against Minnesota with a doubleheader, one of two remaining on the schedule. Tony La Russa seems to have a pretty easy setup for this one, at least if the freshly extended Lance Lynn can take care of business in Game 1. Reynaldo López starts the nightcap, and the game’s seven-inning nature turns four innings from López from a failure to a triumph.
As long as the White Sox’s starting pitching remains stout with the middle-relief picture dicey — and Friday’s game against Houston suggests peril at every turn before Michael Kopech and maybe Garrett Crochet — seven-inning set up as well for the White Sox as anybody. And with the White Sox set to bring back at least four-fifths of the rotation next year, it’d seemingly be in the White Sox’s interest to maintain this arrangement.
Alas, Rob Manfred said over the All-Star break that both seven-inning doubleheaders and the runner on second to start extra innings were COVID-19 measures that will be on the way out as soon as 2022, at least barring heavy resistance from the MLBPA.
In a follow-up item in his notebook, Bob Nightengale reinforced the notion that seven-inning doubleheaders are on the way out, but he said the Manfred Man on second could stay, with an alteration:
While the seven-inning doubleheaders are likely going away for good in 2022, as commissioner Rob Manfred said, the extra-inning rule likely will stick around, although modified. Instead of teams starting the 10th inning with a runner on second base, it’s quite possible that it begins an inning or two later.
Part of my objection to Manfred Man is how suddenly the game swings to arcade mode after what’s probably a tense ride through nine, or at least the later innings of regulation. The 12th inning sounds like a reasonable time to push teams toward a conclusion.
In his summary of the White Sox’s potential paths over the next 12 days, James Fegan references what’s allowed for Michael Kopech for the foreseeable future:
“I’m cleared to go back-to-back or multiple innings; one or the other,” Kopech said. “I’ve come back feeling a little more explosive, a little bit better. And pitching wherever they need me is a relief. I like going out there and getting to be competitive in late innings. But ‘whenever they need me’ is kind of my mindset right now. My last few have just been later. It’s been cool.”
Dan Szymborski projects Lance Lynn’s performance through 2028 and doesn’t see dominance, but he also doesn’t see Lynn encountering a significant age-related drop-off until 2026.
The ZiPS projections liked Lynn to have a gentle decline through his 30s, but not one that was likely to merit a gigantic payday. The aging curve for pitchers tends to be more attrition-based than for hitters, but a long-term deal for Lynn would start to get him into his late 30s, where you do start seeing a significant dropoff in skills along with the playing time. ZiPS would have given him a longer-term deal — four years, $84 million — but the $45.5 million projection for the next two years is not a galaxy apart from his $38 million guarantee.
PERTINENT: Lance Lynn extension shows White Sox can sell themselves
The Twins are at a crossroads with their best position player and pitcher, as both are on track to reach free agency at the end of the 2022 season. Ken Rosenthal says the Twins are trying to pressure Byron Buxton into signing a contract extension that, given Buxton’s densely populated injury history, is hard to reconcile as a great or terrible idea:
The team’s latest offer to Buxton is in excess of the $70 million the Yankees awarded center fielder Aaron Hicks over a seven-year extension in Feb. 2019, sources said. Buxton, 27, likely will be dealt if he rejects the proposal, if not by the July 30 trade deadline — he currently is on the injured list with a fractured left hand — then this offseason.
Now here’s a case where a reported contract offer sounds low without giving it much thought. The Marlins supposedly offered Starling Marte a three-year, $30 million extension and won’t go any higher, so count on him being part of the free-agent pool unless another team acquires him and extends him.
Rob Arthur went through Retrosheet’s database to see how much starting pitchers could swing attendance figures when controlling for other aspects, and found a tie between star pitchers and home attendance boosts, and the inverse.
Above is a sampling of some of the top pitchers over this timeframe, and how much they boosted attendance per game in home games. These effects are regressed depending on the number of games a pitcher started, so it stands to reason that playing time as well as fame are factors in affecting game turnout.
There are also players who suppress attendance, albeit typically by smaller margins. Because everything is quantified relative to the average attendance, it’s not fair to say that these players are actively driving fans away from the ballpark so much as yielding less interest than an average pitcher on the bump. For example, Nick Pivetta is associated with a 2000-fan deficit in attendance, presumably not because people are avoiding his games so much as because their reaction to his starts is likely to be “Who’s Nick Pivetta?” Of course, for a handful of back-of-the-rotation players, there probably is some desire to skip their games altogether, considering they can sometimes be penciled in as near-guaranteed losses.
This story came to mind when watching more than 100,000 people in the stands over three games between the White Sox and Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field. While fans might want to see Lynn, Carlos Rodón and Lance Lynn more than Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease, the Sox don’t have a starting pitcher that makes one roll their eyes and think about waiting for tomorrow if all the other elements are in place for a pleasant night out.
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SOX MACHINE STORE NOTE
Today marks the last day of the preorder window for Sox Machine ballcaps. I’ll be turning off preorders at noon on Tuesday in order to place a bulk order this week. I’ll be including a few extras at each size for those who didn’t get around to it, but preordering leaves nothing to chance on your end, and makes it easier to accurately gauge demand on my order.
(Photo by Arturo Pardavila III)
Unpopular opinion: I like the 7 inning games. The pacing is quicker. If I were going to introduce someone new to baseball to the sport, I would have them watch a 7 inning game. I think they should be explicitly scheduled. Give every team 154 9 inning games and schedule 4 7 inning double headers.
While we’re at rule changes keep the Manfred Man but move him to 1st, universal DH with an “Ohtani rule”, and robot umps.
Robo umps will happen, but don’t expect it to be ready for next season. Interesting that the technology may be seen as a way to boost offense based on the testing done
I appreciate the link. It has good info.
On a side note, I haven’t read Deadspin since the whole mass exodus and boy, has the writing gone downhill. You could cut multiple paragraphs from that article and lose nothing.
I always assumed that robo-umps would help hitters. The eye test tells me that there are way more generous strikes called than there are missed strike calls.
It’s all about how they setup the zone. If they set it up by the letter of the law and let every pitch that even touches the zone to a strike, it’ll help pitchers. If they set it up real small, it’ll help batters. I assume they’ll do something closer to the latter
7 inning double headers are a very bad idea and should never be implemented. They are ill conceived, and they create a significant unfair competitive advantage for some teams. For example, teams that play in domes are pretty much guaranteed to pitch more innings than teams that play in open stadiums. How’s that fair? How can one judge two teams in a fairly manner when one team needed to pitch 30 or so more innings (to say an arbitrary number) than the other one during a normal 162 season?
Look at the flip side, how is it fair to ask non-dome teams to have disproportionately more doubleheaders where they need to throw 45 innings in 4 days?
Excellent points by both you and As Cir. Always good to see both sides of things.
Baseball has always been an asymmetric game. Some teams have bandboxes for stadiums and some are very pitcher friendly. Baseball would be better off leaning into asymmetry, something that makes it unique.
Doubleheaders are asymmetrical whether they are 7 or 9 innings. The asymmetry comes from the dome/climate.
How is that asymmetrical? Whether you play in open stadium or in a dome, the game involves 9 innings for the win. Same for every team. That some team will have to play those same innings in shorter periods of time is another type of asymmetry which is not the one I am referring to. And MLB has tried to alleviate that by adding an extra player during DH.
My point is that the load of 9 innings x 162 = 1,458 minimum innings per season (excl. extra innings) was the same for everybody prior to the 7 innings DH, and that is what the genius (lots of sarcasm) of Manfred distorted with this stupid idea.
Yes, there were some degree of asymmetry before, but Manfred made it more accentuated.
Throwing 9 innings once a day on a preplanned schedule is fundamentally different that having an unscheduled off days then throwing 18 innings. It forces you to use spot starters and use more than 2X as many relievers in one day. You’re more likely to rest gimpy players for a half a doubleheader than you are for a normally scheduled game.
As long as some teams play in domes / dry climates and others play outdoors in rainy climates, the teams will have different demands on their teams.
Shortening the games offsets that some.
Also another point, I bet having a losing record on the road has bigger impact on innings thrown than doubleheaders.
If not for doubleheaders, Ryan Burr, Jimmy Lambert, and Reynaldo Lopez wouldn’t have starts this year. The Sox are going to have to start guys like these at least 7 times this year. The Rays only have one doubleheader this year (surprisingly at home).
Throwing 14 fewer innings isn’t as big a benefit as using a real starter instead of those guys is.
You are missing my point. You are focusing on subjective issues. I am focusing in 7 innings game is not a 9 innings game. Two different games where your best hitters might get 1 fewer at-bat than usual. That at-bat might be crucial.
Imaging two teams are contending and they are tied in 1st place. Only two games left. Team A faces an opponent in two days, 9 innings games with a battered and tired bullpen by the end of the season. Team B has a DH scheduled with 7 inning games each with also a battered and tired bullpen.
Sucks to be Team A where surely will have to use its bullpen to pitch a few innings and face the opponent’s 1 thru 4 hitter one extra time where Team B might be able to go from starter to closer and not having to face tougher hitters 1 extra turn.
This is fucked up.
You would rather have Reynaldo Lopez starting a consequential 7-inning game than Dallas Keuchel starting a consequential 9-inning game?
I am not missing your point. I am dismissing it because it’s not the dominating variable.
If you want Team A and Team B to have the same experience, your gripe is with whoever decided to not build a dome or locate their team in a dryer climate
To use a specific example, let’s say at the end of the year the Red Sox and Rays are battling it out for first place. The Red Sox are playing their 5th doubleheader of the year resulting in their final game being a 7 inning bullpen game (game is started by a regular starter). Between the 2 games, they have 8 innings getting covered by 7 relievers over the course of one day. If you made them 9 inning games, it’s closer to 12 innings being covered by relievers.
The Rays only had 1 DH all year. They are using their regular starters for their final 2 9-inning games. Over the course of two days, they have relievers cover 6 innings.
If we are defining “fair” as the same competitive circumstances, is 7-innings or 9-innings fairer?
Does the difference in circumstances even compare to the benefit avoiding 20 innings spread out over the course of full season?
Using that definition of fairness does this issue come anywhere close to the fact that they play in radically different home fields or have payrolls 4X different from each other?
This is baseball; fair ain’t an option
I get what you are saying. That was a problem the extra man was trying to mitigate.
Think of it this way
Monday 9 innings. Your starter will be John Doe 1
Tuesday 9 inning. Your starter will be John Doe 2
In a DH. You still have your same John Doe 1 and 2 to start, but the game is 7 innings. Two completely different type of games. We are talking about 4 innings that just disappeared. A lot can happen in 4 innings. Maybe a season changing result can happen, and that’s what this ridiculous rule eliminated.
It won’t be John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 starting games in a doubleheader. It will be John Doe 1 and Reynaldo Lopez starting the doubleheader and John Doe 2 starting the next game
Could it be that Commish is taking away so he has something to trade back without really giving anything at all?
I too, like the 7 inning doubleheaders. I watched one this year and it felt like the 1st 2 innings were cut off. The anticipation of the last 3 innings felt the same.
The Marlins’ offer to Marte is the MLB equivalent of, “Tell me you don’t want me here without telling me you don’t want me here.”
He is the guy, my opinion. If the Sox want to solve their RF issues the next few years, either trade for him and extend him, or sign him in the offseason.
Read that according to Nightengale the Sox and Dbacks had a deal in place for Escobar that fell through. Nightengale on the Score said “They all but agreed to the trade about three weeks ago, but then Escobar hurt his quadriceps. Then the reliever the Diamondbacks were going to get back; he had a little problem, had to get a cortisone shot.”
The quote said reliever, but sounds to me like it might have been Kelley. Kelley was shut down all of June with right elbow inflammation, so makes sense he would get a shot. Since coming back on July 10, he has thrown just 2.2 innings over 2 starts, 4 earned runs. His numbers this year don’t look encouraging for a team trying to trade for him. Just speculating, but sounds like that might have been the deal that almost went down. Perhaps it was a different player that got the shot.
I don’t care what Kelley has done so far this season, trading Kelley for Escobar would have been a massive overpay imo.
I don’t know that it was him… only speculating, based on the cortisone shot. Could well be another player. But it did sound like they were close, unless Nightengale is just full of it, also possible.
I am good with a 11th or 12th inning Manfred Man for the regular season. As a fan, I don’t necessarily want to sit through a 4 or 5 hour game especially in-person when the concessions are shut down for the last 2 hours.
Speaking on 7-inning games, maybe someone here can help me figure this out.
I’m in town for a family event but found time to take my boys tonight to their first Sox home game. Can someone tell me how I can secure tickets for the 2nd game of the DH? The official site, nor vividseats has ticket offering? Is this just a ‘walk-up ticket booth’ situation?
I don’t know if this helps, but today’s games are a straight doubleheader. So one ticket covers both games.
That might actually make sense. Thanks !
The sketch in which David Cross plays the Red Sox team representative in an arbitration hearing while Bob Odenkirk plays Pivetta’s outraged agent writes itself.
I see Berrios is starting game 2 while Lynn is starting game 1. Anyone know who set their starter first (i.e., who decided to go ace vs. spot starter instead of ace vs. ace)?
Also I see Yoan is DHing again. Is he injured or do they just want to play Burger in the field?
There almost has to be something going on with Yoan. Yoan is clearly the better defender of the two, though Burger has looked OK.
Almost wonder if this is an audition of sorts for not only trades but the looming decision for bringing Lamb off the IL?
I don’t see a spot for Lamb. Goodwin is much more valuable, and I think both Sheets and Burger are better hitters. Vaughn seems to have figured it out vs RHP. Not a lot of at bats for Lamb that I can see, those first 3 guys seem to have squeezed him off the roster basically.
Maybe they are showcasing Burger for potential trade suitors
Don’t know who set starters first but I thought it was more typical to let the primary starter get the first game
I don’t know the answer here, but sometimes pitchers prefer day or night.