Cleveland 9, White Sox 7: O Kopech, Where Art Thou?

On Saturday night, Michael Kopech made a compelling argument that his next start should be in Chicago. On Sunday afternoon, Dylan Covey provided an exclamation point.

The Sox starter lasted just 2 2/3 innings against Cleveland, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts. As the saying goes, two’s a coincidence and three’s a trend, so what is ten — an avalanche? Over his last 10 starts, here’s Covey’s line: 46.1 IP, 60 H, 46 ER, 25 BB, 26 K, 8.94 ERA.

Yeesh.

On the other side of the diamond, Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco picked up where Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer left off, dominating the Sox for 7 innings, giving up a run in the 1st and not much after.

Even that run was not particularly inspiring. After a Yolmer Sanchez single, Jose Abreu grounded to his counterpart Yonder Alonso, who tried to turn two but pulled Francisco Lindor off the bag at second. Terry Francona tried and failed to challenge, then a wild pitch and a Daniel Palka groundout brought Sanchez home.

That was it for the Sox against Carrasco, and since Covey had already started immolating in the top of the 1st, the afternoon had the makings of an open-and-shut game.

Adam Engel had other ideas.

First, with the Sox trailing 9-1 in the top of the 8th and two runs already in, he made — incredibly — his THIRD home run saving catch of the homestand, taking a two-run dinger away from Alonso and saving Thyago Vieira’s bacon/ERA.

Then in the bottom of the inning, he lined a solo home run to nearly the same spot, which started a stretch of 6 unanswered runs for Ricky’s Boys. Sanchez followed up Engel’s homer with one of his own to make the score 9-3. Then the rest of the Sox offense went to work in the top of the 9th.

Avisail Garcia was hit by a pitch with one out, then Yoan Moncada singled to move pinch-runner Ryan Lamarre to second. Tim Anderson cashed in Lamarre with a liner over third base, and both runners advanced on the throw home. Kevan Smith scored Moncada with a broken-bat bloop up the middle, then it was Engel again — this time knocking a two-run triple, which closed the Cleveland lead to two runs and forced Francona to go to closer Cody Allen.

Alas a comeback was not to be, as Allen took advantage of a generous zone to strike out Nicky Delmonico then Sanchez to end the game.

The late-inning show made you wonder how things might have gone had the Sox gotten a half-decent start. Unfortunately, Covey came down with a case of the Giolitos, eschewing his generally solid early-inning performance for an immediate catastrophe. Three singles and a Melky Cabrera home run scored four in the 1st, and Cleveland followed up with another three singles plus a walk in the 2nd to score two more. Covey was at 80 pitches by the time Rick Renteria had seen enough with two outs in the 3rd.

Hector Santiago pitched 3 2/3 solid innings of relief, striking out five but allowing an unearned run after a Delmonico misplay allowed Cabrera to advance to third on a single, and score on a sac fly. Tyler Danish recorded the final two outs of the 7th, but started the 8th by allowing three of four batters to reach, which set the stage for Engel’s magnificent grab that saved two runs and a couple innings of watchable baseball.

Dylan Covey’s next turn in the rotation comes on Saturday night at home against Kansas City’s league-worst offense. Seems like a pretty good time for a major league debut to me.

Notes
– Anderson made a couple of excellent plays at shortstop, and Moncada added a nice one at second.

– In addition to his error, Delmonico went 0-for-5 with 3 K’s. Maybe we can make that debut a twofer.

– Hawk Harrelson missed his normal Sunday game due to illness. By all accounts, he’ll be back in the booth next week, joined by Paul Konerko.

– Oh, and…

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Greg Nix

Greg Nix writes stuff all over the internet, and sometimes even on TV. He loves the White Sox and the Phoenix Suns even though they bring him nothing but pain.

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boyd

So what would Engel have to “hit” for him to be more than a defensive replacement when the team is expected to be competitive.  If other players develop offensively the way we hope (Sundays are for dreaming right), can the team carry him if his bat doesn’t improve much more?  

Soxfan2

Kevin Pillar had a wRC+ of 81 in 2016 and was good for 2.3 fWAR thanks to his defense. I’d say Engel has to get into at least the 70-75 wRC+ range to be playable. He’s currently at 54 wRC+ right now. So a good amount of improvement is still needed. 

Side note: Fangraphs defensive metrics aren’t even a big fan of Engel. Which is interesting. It is one of the reasons I don’t put a huge investment into defensive metrics and why I prefer the eye test. 

karkovice squad

Statcast still thinks he has elite defensive skills.

I agree that being within 30 points of average offense, however he achieves it, would give him a start or 2 a week when someone needs a rest. Being within 20 points would get him more regular playing time, possibly even a starting role.

If the Sox had a lineup without holes and only needed 7 relievers, he could be the defensive sub/pinch runner now.

35Shields

Yes and no. Yes, Statcast still thinks he’s one of the best defenders in the league. No, Statcast doesn’t believe he is as good of a defender as it did last year.

Last year, he put up 20 OAA in 800 innings. This year, he’s 14 in 771.1. So on a per innings basis, he’s only producing about 2/3 of what he did last year.

May seem like splitting hairs, but when you’re sporting a career wRC+ below 50, that kind of drop is not great.

karkovice squad

You’re misusing the stats here. What we don’t know about OAA is how volatile it is year to year. Given that Engel’s still near the top of the leaderboard, he’s still an elite defender. Since the stat is relative to league average, like framing, it seems likely that average defense is grading better this season rather than some kind of decline for him.

Comparing his OAA trend to his career wRC+ is also inapt. Moreso when the trend line for his offense is positive. Which is why overall he’s now around replacement level for the season rather than almost a win below it like last year. Which also suggests that he’s an elite defender whose bat improved some. And that even with no further improvement, if they could play him in a more limited role where his bat wasn’t as exposed, he’d probably produce/preserve enough positive value for a roster spot.

karkovice squad

This seems right. Though if he’s just giving someone a rest, I don’t think they’d necessarily have to worry about the platoon advantage. He doesn’t have strong, consistent splits and his glove is why he’d be out there anyway.

lil jimmy

I look forward to the day, hopefully soon, that there is no room for Adam Engel.

knoxfire30

These types of questions always seem relative. If you team is killing it offensively and you have two corner outfielders who dont field well he wouldnt have to hit much at all, when you are a terrible offensive team he shouldnt be on a 25 man roster… I dont think he is ever going to be more then a 4th/5th outfielder type.

sgp2204

He would have to hit Lou Bob in the knee with a baseball bat. That’s his only chance. 

Trooper Galactus

I said before the season that I though he’d be an average-ish player if he could even manage a .640 OPS or so. I stand by that. But holy hell, that swing is just so goddamn ugly. How Steverson has allowed that to persist is just beyond me.

asinwreck

Speaking of hitting, Ken Rosenthal’s profile of Alex Cora this evening has a discussion of the Red Sox’ aggressive hitting that may be relevant to Yoan Moncada’s approach. When he took over, he instructed Mookie Betts to swing at the first pitch.

Cora had witnessed the impact of George Springer’s assertiveness leading off for the Astros last season. He saw Betts — accurately — as a potentially even more dynamic offensive force. “If he’s ready to hit from the first pitch and people know that, they’re going to start nibbling,” Cora says. “All of a sudden it’s 2-0, 3-1 most of the time instead of being 0-1.”

Given that Betts is enjoying the best season of his career, might this be something the Sox might discuss with Moncada?

PauliePaulie

From RR and Steverson? Hehe, sure.

roke1960

It’s sad to say, but I don’t think anyone here trusts Ricky and Steverson to get the most out of our hitters. Moncada will be an offensive force in the near future with the right coaching. The tools are obviously there. His approach is wrong. But will Ricky and Todd get it fixed? I doubt it.

oljeto

Trade him and bring up Rondon until Madrigal’s ready. By then, Steverson will be gone and won’t have chance to ruin him.

Trooper Galactus

Yeah, because I love getting jack squat for guys we trade only to watch them flourish elsewhere.

sgp2204

Just tell Moncada to call me. I’ve been saying that all year. I’ll get his approach straightened out real fast. 

lil jimmy

I was there and will note, the runner got himself out, not Smith. A lovely day at the ball park. The home team sucked.

Lurker Laura

I was there, too, and this is true. However, Smith’s throw was accurate, allowing Anderson to take advantage of the runner’s mistake. (That’s what count as success with our base-running defense.)