The White Sox finished the season series against the New York Yankees 1-5, but you probably can’t blame them walking away from this one thinking they beat themselves.
Lucas Giolito didn’t have full power on his stuff at the onset of the start and worked himself into early inefficiency problems. César Hernández committed three errors. Tony La Russa didn’t use a challenge on a couple plays that merited one.
And even then, they made a game of it, with the tying runs on base with one out in the ninth inning.
Unfortunately, Hernández capped a lousy game by grounding into a double play, which was characteristic of an offense that didn’t want for baserunners, but struggled to get the ball in the air afterward. (Not to mention that Miguel Cairo finally used the challenge on a play where the baserunner was clearly out.)
The White Sox lost their second consecutive series as a result. Cleveland won, which means the White Sox’s magic number finally stayed put on a day they played for the first time all month. Their lead in the AL Central is still 10 games.
It was a slog from the beginning, with Giolito throwing 33 pitches with two walks in a scoreless first, then giving up three runs in a similarly laborious second on a two-run homer by Rougned Odor and a Brett Gardner hustle double that scored DJ LeMahieu from first because a shifted Hernández’s throw to second escaped Tim Anderson.
That error was more on Anderson than Hernández, as it would’ve been better to block the throw than attempting a swipe tag. The other two were on Hernández, including a booted grounder behind second base that spoiled Giolito’s slim chances of starting a fifth inning.
On the other side of the ball, Nestor Cortes and the Yankees bullpen limited the White Sox to an Andrew Vaughn solo shot through the first eight inning, but Vaughn twice came to the plate with two on and two outs and grounded out both times.
The White Sox had plenty of traffic on the bases, but struggled to move them for more than a base at a time. They outhit the Yankees 10-9 and drew four walks, but eight of those hits were singles, and the White Sox grounded into three double plays, including two by Hernández (he truly had an awful game).
The Sox might’ve been able to overturn the one Tim Anderson hit into that ended the seventh, as it appeared as though he beat the throw. La Russa didn’t challenge it, even though it was a higher-leverage opportunity than Hernández’s one-out bunt single attempt that fell on the wrong side of a bang-bang play.
The Sox didn’t have an extra-base hit inside the park until the ninth, when Zack Collins’ drive off lefty Lucas Luetge once again couldn’t clear the wall of a power alley, but this time escaped the grasp of the outfielder. Aaron Judge couldn’t flag it down, and the Sox had their first hit with runners in scoring position all game while narrowing the lead to 5-2.
Anderson then beat out a 3-1 putout attempt for a run-scoring infield single that put runners on the corners for Hernández, but that’s when he grounded into his second double play, and a no-doubter at that.
The two-run deficit made Luke Voit’s two-run homer off Matt Foster loom larger in the top of the ninth, but it’s hard to fault the White Sox bullpen as a whole, which succeeded by pitching carefully. Ryan Tepera, Jose Ruíz and Aaron Bummer walked five batters over four innings, but they also struck out seven without allowing a hit. They’re a big reason why the Yankees were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Had the Sox been a little more on top of their game in any facet, perhaps New York is the side grumbling at itself after this series.
*Seby Zavala extended the inning with a passed ball on a good Tepera slider for strike three, but no further damage resulted from the play.
*Hernández’s third error was an errant toss on a relatively routine double play that allowed Kyle Higashioka to advance to second.
*White Sox pitchers walked eight in nine innings and had to throw 209 pitches, as opposed to 150 from five Yankees.
*La Russa was ejected by Mike Estabrook for arguing balls and strikes, ostensibly to protect Eloy Jiménez from getting ejected arguing a strike three that Statcast called in the zone.
Record: 68-50 | Box score | Statcast
The non-challenge on Anderson’s double play is even dumber when you realize it was at the end of the 7th inning, so a lost challenge would have literally no effect on their ability to challenge future plays.
How dare anyone call TLR’s decisions into question. He’s the one with the office.
Last year’s team had a winning percentage of 0.583. This year’s team is at 0.576 which is almost as good!. Keeping in mind that last year’s team had Jimmy Cordero, Edwin Encarnacion, and Nomar Mazara, TLR must be a genius among geniuses for the record to be only slightly worse.
To paraphrase Lazlo Toth: “Stand by our manager!”
Didn’t see the game so didn’t see the potential challenge plays. But am still not clear how this process is working. I was under the impression that the coach on the phone to whoever is veiwing the replay either gets a yay or nay and that is likely to decide whether to challenge. It strikes me as unlikely that someone on the phone is saying the call is likely wrong and La Russa is saying, ‘oh, why bother.’ Do we know for certain what is going on? Are they not reviewing the replay at all? Are they getting back advice in the dugout?..
The White Sox are now 52-29 against teams under .500 and are 16-21 against teams over .500. The only team in the AL in a playoff spot that currently has a worse record against over .500 teams is Oakland at 22-31.
As a comparison, every team in the AL East has played around 70ish games against teams over .500 compared to the White Sox 37.
Hmmm. There seems to be a pattern here. Perhaps we are just trying to make everyone else overconfident?
To add to the concern that Detroit is poised to make a break next season, it is .500 against winning teams.
You are citing a metric that hasn’t historically been correlated with postseason success …Here are some past World Series Champions records against over 500 competition …I’ll try to pull more when I get time.
2012 San Francisco: 94-68
31-31 (.500) vs +.500
2011 St Louis: 90-72
30-27 (.526) vs. +.500
2010 San Francisco: 90-72
30-38 (.441) vs +.500
2008 Philadelphia: 92-70
43-46 (.483) vs + .500
Nationals in 2019 had a losing record against over .500 competition
A large part of being a good team involves bumslaying
There is enough parity in baseball that any team in the playoffs has a chance, even if it is a small one. The Sox will have a shot with a strong rotation no matter how bad they play at any point between now and October. I’m just not convinced their chances will be all that good.
What is becoming apparent is that the Sox division is SO bad that yes their record and stats against crappy teams are inflated, they are not AL favorites, and there is probably little chance they would be in first if they played in the West or East. Part of the reason they seem to do poorly against good teams is probably that they aren’t used to playing them.
We’ll all be watching in October no matter what, but I do think the next 11 games will show us a lot about how good they really are – or aren’t. Hope we get to see better from them than this weekend.
2020 Dodgers = 8-5
2018 Red Sox = 42-33
2017 Astros = 18-15
2016 Cubs = 31-25
2015 Royals = 47-43
2013 Boston = 53-43
NB: A stats guy from Berkley looked at World Series winners since 1970 and believes that, all things being equal, records versus “good” teams are a better indicator of post season success.
I’ll take a deeper look at that in the morning …but he stated he only had a .34 correlation coefficient which is not considered a high correlation only moderate in advanced statistics. He simply stated it was better than win percentage in September as a metric but it still didn’t produce a high correlation.
No team with a sub .500 record in October has ever won a World Series. Nobody can argue with that. Teams may win sometimes even without regular season success vs good teams, but all else equal you’d rather have success in the regular season vs potential October opponents.
I think many on here try to find things to support how they want things to be, rather than seeing how they actually are. You cited 6 of the last 8 WS winners had winning records vs above .500 teams. That’s more relevant than pointing to two exceptions when it comes to what is likely.
The one thing that makes this year a bit different for the Sox is injuries. They have had a whole different team on the field much of the time when compiling their losing record vs good teams. Which makes the regular season less meaningful – this year.
But they are close to full strength now, and you’d like to see them win at least 6 or 7 out of the next 11, rather than lose that many. It makes no sense that you would expect a team that fares poorly against potential playoff opponents during the season to win more than they lose in October against those same teams, even if it happens once in a while.
I don’t disagree, but even if we go sub .500 in the next 11 games, we’ll still have to account for the absences of Grandal and Rodon. If Rodon doesn’t get rested, maybe we take 2 of 3 from the Yankees rather than the other way around. If Grandal is available, maybe Collins’ just-short flyball turns into a Grandal dinger.
There are no guarantees in October, but I’m not going to read too much into the regular season given all the context that needs to be considered for any given stretch. As a construction guy, I’m reminded of the idea of “pacing delays.” Basically, a sub not showing up on time for their piece of the work because even if they did it wouldn’t matter to the overall schedule.
I’m assuming TLR and Hahn are managing to get to October knowing that their approach will change once they get there. At that point we won’t know if their plan is going to work or not because we won’t have seen much of it.
The Yankees were without Chapman, Torres, Cole, and Rizzo this weekend. No way are Rodon and Grandal more significant than those 4. Whatever you said about Rodon is neutralized by Cole. Basically making excuses for the team’s poor play. You could easily argue that with Chapman it is unlikely the Sox would have won Thursday, either.
How is saying context matters making excuses? There is context in our favor (an 11 game lead allows management to experiment and set up the postseason rotation while Cole may be needed to clinch a spot in the final regular season series and miss the wildcard round, e.g.) and there is context that works against us (we’re clearly in the weakest division so may not be battle hardened by the time the post season rolls around, e.g.).
All I’m saying is that I’m personally not going to read too much into a regular season series given all the context I know and understanding there’s even more that I don’t. We’ll get to October and see where we go from there.
“You cited 6 of the last 8 WS winners had winning records vs above .500 teams. That’s more relevant than pointing to two exceptions when it comes to what is likely.”
No it isn’t more relevant…it is a small sample size that you are cherry picking
The data dating back over 40 years suggest there isn’t a high correlation to wins over .500 and postseason success. If we are doing quantitative analysis the data doesn’t give a strong correlation. An r-square of .34 is only moderate.
The CBS sports link I posted near the bottom is a well written and well reasoned discussion of this whole topic.
Right. The Sox haven’t just played a somewhat easier schedule than most teams. By some metrics, it has been a much easier schedule than anyone else in baseball.
It is possible that lacking experience against good teams will hurt the Sox when we have to play good teams in October. Hard to know.
More to the point, the Sox as a team and the individuals on it have succeeded in part because of their schedule. Would we feel differently about this team’s chances in October if the team had 6 fewer wins right now? 8? 10? Because the lopsided schedule suggests something like that as the magnitude of the SOS impact on team wins & losses.
FWIW, some of the other teams in the hunt have played really difficult schedules, or played much more difficult schedules early than what they have remaining. For example, Houston may end up pulling way ahead of us, and, looking at the splits, it seems like Toronto is a team that might be better than their current record suggests.
Furthermore, the team’s individual performances are also skewed by the schedule. Is Cease a decent #4 starter? Is Giolito a solid #3? Is Yoan Moncada an above average player? Has Adam Engel really figured things out? Those are among the questions where the answer is pretty dependent on how those guys have performed against a weak schedule.
Finally, the strength of schedule may be relevant to answering questions such as “does a second all-star closer put this team over the top?” Maybe. Or maybe the Sox are still somewhere between the 3rd and 5th best team in the AL when you consider how much team success has come versus non-contenders and how they are likely to match up down the stretch.
And, while small sample size alerts are relevant when taking about MLB head to head matchups, the Sox dropped 5 of 6 to the Yankees (the 3rd or 4th best team in the AL East). I did not come away from watching those games thinking “we’re better than they are.”
Along those lines, it will be interesting to see the Sox in limited games versus Oakland, Tampa, Toronto, and Boston before the season ends. It’s possible that the takeaway from those head to head matchups will simply be “we’re not clearly better than any of the other non-Astros competitors.” And racking up wins against an easy schedule isn’t going to erase those legitimate doubts.
The hand wringing over this seems so silly to me. The first time the Sox played the Astros in HOU (and went 0-4), Lamb, Goodwin, Mendick, and Garcia got multiple starts. Same against the Yankees (also 0-3) earlier (except less Mendick, more Eaton).
So, sure, if the Sox are forced to give Lamb, Goodwin, Mendick, and Garcia multiple starts in the playoffs then, yes, the Sox are in trouble. Otherwise, let’s stop worrying about this. The projected playoff roster is *significantly* better than the one that’s gone 16-21 against over-.500 teams.
I find myself wondering if we miss Grandal more than we realized. Obviously his bat is an upgrade, but what kind of difference is the loss of his pitch framing costing? And what about calling the game and understanding how to extract the most out of the pitchers? And I’m seeing a lot of balls going to the backstop, taking away double plays and putting runners in scoring position.
I don’t know the answer, but if he can come back and take the majority of games back there, we might see the pitchers get better and see the lineup extended.
It would be silly to base one’s assessment of how the Sox stack up against the Astros on the basis of head to head matchups only. There are a lot of ways that one could reach the conclusion that Houston is better than the Sox are and that Houston is the team to beat in the AL.
That said, our performance in head to head matchups with teams like Houston (missing Bregman & Pedro Baez), New York (missing Chapman , Cole, & Sanchez), Boston (missing Sale) etc doesn’t really make you think that our team is better than those teams, right?!? I think those head to head matchups so far confirm that the Sox team is not better than any of the teams that are likely to make the playoffs in the AL. Maybe evenly matched. But not better.
I’m not saying the Sox are better than any team. I’m only saying that Sox fans shouldn’t be worried about our chances to go far in the playoffs based on the record vs. .500 or better teams. And I don’t think the head-to-head matchups thus far “confirm that the Sox team is not better than” the AL playoff teams. For one thing, one or two series is MUCH too small a sample size to “confirm” anything. The Sox beat the Rays and the Jays with some stars missing, but that doesn’t mean the Sox are a lock, or even the favorites, if those teams met in the playoffs. For another, the team that’ll face those teams in the playoffs is a very different one than has gone 16-21 against .500 or better teams.
I agree with Frank- this whole argument is just so freakin’ silly. Why go out of your way to say the Sox might be evenly matched, but not better. Who cares right now. There is one thing we know for sure (or at least 99.9% sure). The White Sox are going to win the division. No other team in the AL can say that right now. So the White Sox can prepare for a 5-game series. All of the other playoff hopefuls (Tampa, Boston, Yanks, Toronto, Oakland, Houston) are still in battles to win their divsion and avoid the dreaded one-game playoff. So, yes, maybe they don’t match up with Houston or the Yankees or anybody. But at least we know they won’t be in a one-and-done game. And I’ll still take my chances with a rotation of Lynn-Rodon-Giolito-Cease and a bullpen of Tepera-Crochet-Kopech-Bummer-Kimbrel-Hendriks and our healthy lineup against any of those other teams’ healthy lineups.
So this whole discussion is silly? I mean, isn’t it a friendly and somewhat academic discussion by Sox fans about stuff we think about but can’t control? Like, is it sillier than posting stuff about who should be in the lineup? Who should be acquired via trade or in the offseason? Sillier thanks spending hours every day thinking about grown men playing a game? This seems like a strange way to dismiss someone else’s opinion on a site where we all just come to share thoughts about the Sox.
I do agree it’s silly to make too much of this discussion. There is a well written and well timed article summarizing the whole thing though, supporting why some concern over how they’ve played vs good teams may be justified.
I’d feel a lot better about their chances if they play a lot better these next 11 games. I hope they win more than their share, for confidence and seeding, I think we can all agree on that.
Especially since the break, this team looks like a .500 club that benefits from the unbalanced schedule and a very weak division, but isn’t really a contender.
A lot of pitchers lick their fingers, but there is something particularly disgusting about the way Aaron Bummer does it.
He’s a real palm to knuckles kinda guy.
Regardless of historical stats, we had a .600 winning record or near it before the break.
Then along came Hernandez, Kimbrell, and Tepera.
Then along comes Eloy and Luis.
Those 5 names would make up a pretty good-looking core team to work with.
None of these significant additions seems to have made a difference and that is where my frustration sets in.
They have enough talent. Anxious as I am, we will have to wait and see if they can find the will to win in October.
So is Yoan struggling against fastballs because he is looking offspeed or is there a decline in his bat speed we should be more concerned about?
Yoan simply doesn’t look confident out there. He almost always takes the first pitch, and seems like the pitchers are throwing him a first pitch fastball knowing it’s gonna be a take. I think he needs to be play lower in the lineup.
Fatigue is one of the common long Covid effects. Given last year, I don’t think you could count that out.
I don’t know if it’s Covid related or not but Moncada doesn’t look like the same guy physically as two years ago. Maybe a bigger shirt but he looks smaller and thinner.
I haven’t noticed a physical difference, but he certainly isn’t the same hitter as 2 years ago. Going to be hard for him to live up to the later years of his contract if he is not better than he has been this year.
You need to pump the breaks real quick. He may not be 2019 Moncada but he has still been worth 2.9 fWAR so far this season. His K% is the lowest of his career and his BB% is the highest. He’ll still be worth his contract, even if this is the new Moncada. The hope is that this is still a work in progress coming back from COVID.
All I said was that he wasn’t the same hitter as 2019, which any objective person would agree with. I did not say anything that should offend anybody. You’re the one who brought up the topic of his struggles in the first place.
He is set to make 24 mil or so in 2 or 3 years I think. I don’t think his 2021 production was what they had in mind when they gave him that.