The last time the White Sox played in Fenway Park was a Monday morning assignment on Patriots’ Day, when the Boston Red Sox unceremoniously ended Lucas Giolito’s Cy Young chances with six hits in their first six at-bats. Giolito ended up giving up eight runs (seven earned) over an inning-plus. His ERA skyrocketed from 2.55 to 5.79, and he needed the rest of the season to drag it back down.
This series also ends with a morning start — the White Sox and Red Sox will play at 10:35 a.m. CT on Sunday as part of NBC/Peacock’s Sunday baseball debut — but Giolito won’t have to worry about rearranging his sleep schedule, because he’s not set to start until Monday at the earliest.
As for the White Sox pitchers who will see action, they’re catching the Red Sox at the best possible time, because they’re among the teams that are having a miserable time scoring runs at the start of the 2022 season.
Chad Jennings, the Red Sox beat writer at The Athletic, wrote a by-the-numbers breakdown to capture the offensive struggles, and once I scrolled past the headline and photo of Rafael Devers, most of the formatting and content could’ve been C&P’d from a James Fegan article. In some categories, Boston fares better. In others, the White Sox are better dead than Red.
4 — Number of times since April 15 (the home opener) the Red Sox have scored more than four runs in a game.
The White Sox have only done this twice, while the Red Sox added two more to that total by scoring five runs in two of their three games against the Angels this week. They somehow lost both those games.
23 — Where the Red Sox rank among 30 teams in total runs scored this season.
The White Sox are 27th.
1 — The number of runs the Red Sox should have scored in Sunday’s second inning, but Christian Vázquez thought there was one out — there were two — and didn’t run on contact from second base when Jaylin Davis hit a single into left-center.
OK, this one is overly specific, but evidence that other teams get in their own way, too.
3 — Number of Red Sox position players who have an OPS better than .653
The White Sox have four (with Jake Burger sitting right at .653).
7 — Current Red Sox position players with an OPS below .596
The White Sox have seven as well.
It gets more player-specific from there, but this is all to say that there haven’t been many better springtimes to come to Boston. J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers remain scary, but beyond those three, Trevor Story has had the most productive season so far, and he’s hitting .221/.307/.312 and getting booed by the home crowd. The Red Sox are calling up Jarren Duran in hopes of giving the lineup a shot in the arm, although he struggled in his first go-around last year.
With the Red Sox offense scuffling this much, it creates an unusual, paradoxical context for the games involving the White Sox’s fungible starters. Vince Velasquez sprung a surprise on seasoned, calloused Sox fans by leading a shutout against the Angels his last time out, but now he’ll contend with raised expectations against a lesser offense. Then there’s Dallas Keuchel, who has to rediscover how to throw strikes against a righty-heavy lineup with the Green Monster looming in the background.
What results is a battle of the pessimists. If the White Sox’s glass-half-empty picture wins out, there isn’t an offense that Keuchel can attack. If the Red Sox’s downers prevail, then there isn’t a pitcher they can hit.
And if you were to split the difference, Keuchel would again be limited in effectiveness or innings, but the bullpen would hold the line, and you’d have a final score that wouldn’t total 10 runs, allowing everybody to come away disgruntled. In this particular offensive environment, and at least one more weekend with temperatures struggling to top 50 degrees and the sun struggling to break through, it’s hard to be confident about better days until the days are actually better.
Will Keuchel actually pitch, though? There’s the big question…..
Against a struggling offense? What is a better moment than now to rebuild confidence? Unfortunately, we don’t play against the Reds this year.
I don’t think his issues have much to do with confidence. I think he lacks stuff.
He’ll throw the ball in the general vicinity of the batsmen. Whether it qualifies as pitching is a question of aesthetics.
It’s what you see in aging pitchers, their inability to fool anyone. It’s what scares me about LL’s ability to maintain a high level, especially as a strictly FB guy. Eventually, most all get exposed.
The oddest thing about this season so far is just how little the Sox have traveled in the first month. They haven’t played a game south of Chicago yet (i don’t know off the top of my head if Cleveland is more south or not.). I know the lockout might’ve messed with stuff but its so strange that KC, Seattle, TB and The the Angels Angels of Anaheim have all traveled here in April rather then the Sox visiting them instead early.
Sox should also move Keuchel up a day so its easy to skip his start thanks to this dumb apple tv nonsense.
Cleveland and Chicago are pretty much at the same latitude. Both cities at the edge of a lake.
another start for reece…
He is getting an awful lot of playing time for a backup catcher that can’t seem to hit even a little bit. Maybe he’s better than Collins/Zavala (defensively), but he is not good enough to play 80 games like he is on pace for.
Having said that he was a much more respectable hitter with the Jays, I sure hope he hits better than he has so far. And that Grandal starts a higher percent of games at catcher at some point.
I’m not concerned about his stats after watching his at-bats. He’s not Johnny Bench but he works counts and makes the pitcher throw him strikes. I’m actually kind of floored his career OBP is so low because he really seems to know the zone.
His OPS so far is even lower than Garcia/Harrison. Hopefully he will get better, but no doubt he has been pretty awful so far to put it mildly.
It’s his general lack of pop, pitchers are simply not scared enough to nibble like they want to with say Grandal
His framing stats are good enough that for his career he’s been about an average player over a starting catcher’s season worth of PAs.
The Russa RH hitters 1-4, including Pollock.
ERA splits 1.89 RH, 3.72 LH
Less than ideal.