Cubs 2, White Sox 1: Yu Darvish quiets Sox bats, José Abreu aside

The Cubs still couldn’t keep José Abreu in the yard, but Yu Darvish figured out everybody else.

A second-inning solo shot by Abreu — his fourth in as many plate appearances — was the only run the White Sox could muster. The Cubs only had one answer themselves, but Kyle Schwarber’s sixth-inning homer off Dylan Cease counted for two, and that made the difference.

The White Sox had their chances at running their winning streak to eight games with a sweep at Wrigley, especially after Darvish left the game after his strong seven. Craig Kimbrel and Jeremy Jeffress both struggled to get the third outs in the innings they started. Kimbrel walked Yasmani Grandal and Abreu to get to Eloy Jiménez, but Jeffress got a flyout to center.

Jeffress had to clean up his own mess when he loaded the bases on a Nomar Mazara infield single and walks to Danny Mendick and Tim Anderson, but Yoán Moncada couldn’t take advantage, even after David Bote crashed into the rail and failed to catch a pop-up. He grounded out to Javier Báez on the second base side of second with his second life to end the game.

The close, low-scoring nature of the game put a couple members of the White Sox under the microscope. Moncada looked rough, going 1-for-5 with three strikeouts at the plate, and turning a double-play ball into a double error in the fifth.

The other was Rick Renteria, who paid the price for overseeing Cease’s start a little too casually.

There was a case to relieve Cease to start the sixth, because the horseshoe up his butt got plenty of work the previous two innings. He escaped unscathed from runners on second and third with one out in the fourth, thanks to Anthony Rizzo sliding into Willson Contreras’ bat at home on a contact play, which prevented Rizzo from cleanly sliding in ahead of Moncada’s bad throw home. Rizzo was initially called safe, but the review showed that while McCann took a long time to apply the tag from the first base side, Rizzo’s foot too longer to touch the plate due to the bat. Contreras then tried to take second on a pitch in the dirt, and James McCann gunned him down by plenty to end the inning.

In the fifth, Cease faced the bases loaded with nobody out after two walks sandwiched Moncada’s double error (a firm grounder bounced off his glove and into shallow left field, and he flung away his ill-advised attempt to get Jason Heyward at third, which allowed Victor Caratini to take second). Cease struck out Jason Kipnis, then got Ian Happ to ground a ball up the middle to Anderson, who nearly ran over Mendick in starting an inning-ending 6-3 double play.

A manager in a must-win game might’ve sat Cease then. A manager with an eye on developing Cease would want Cease to try throwing a sixth. Sensible middle ground might include letting Cease start the inning, but with the bullpen at the ready.

Instead, Renteria let Cease forge out with no backup. He struck out Rizzo to start the inning, but when he rolled a breaking ball to Báez for a one-out double to bring Kyle Schwarber to the plate, that seemed like the time to stop the ride. But with nobody warming, Cease went at Schwarber, and Schwarber knocked a 1-2 slider out to center field for a 2-1 Cubs lead. Cease survived a couple liners to end the inning and notch a quality start, but the damage had been done.

Cease was decent, allowing the two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five. He got away with more high breaking balls than he should’ve, but he had the ability to throw three pitches for strikes, which made the Cubs have to guess from more options.

Darvish happened to be excellent, shaking off Abreu’s homer to strike out 10 over seven innings. He dominated Luis Robert for three-quarters of Robert’s second golden sombrero, and while the rest of the lineup put up more of a fight, he matched their intensity.

The Sox had a hard time getting their leadoff hitter on base. Outside of Abreu’s homer that opened the second, the Sox’s only other immediate threat came in the fifth, when McCann singled to center. Mendick followed him to center two batters later, but Anderson grounded out and Moncada struck out to end the threat.

The lack of leadoff men reaching is how the Sox stranded 10 despite going just 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

Bullet points:

*Abreu had a chance to make history by homering in a five straight plate appearance, but he grounded out to second at 110 mph. He popped up and walked in his other two plate appearances.

*Ross Detwiler made his first appearance in a high-leverage lefty situation by handling the ninth with the Sox trailing by one. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning on 10 pitches.

Record: 17-12 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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karkovice squad

A manager in a must-win game might’ve sat Cease then. A manager with an eye on developing Cease would want Cease to try throwing a sixth. Sensible middle ground might include letting Cease start the inning, but with the bullpen at the ready.

Or option 4, as Fegan put it
https://theathletic.com/2017541/2020/08/23/dylan-cease-pitched-the-sixth-inning-because-the-white-sox-trusted-him/

It’s not that they view Cease as someone who will grow into consistently delivering six innings and navigating the order three times down the road, it’s that they view him as someone who can do it now — five weeks before he might be starting Game 3 of a playoff series — and entrusted the fate of the game to his ability to do it.

Also the least defensible explanation–more Drew Anderson thinking.

If we’re inclined towards charity: apparently fitting role and expectations to skill is a work in progress. The less charitable conclusion is Ricky often relies on hope more than evidence-based decision-making.

Eagle Bones

The fact that he had no one even warming in the pen is what really irked me. Like what is he looking at to judge a pitcher’s performance other than the numbers that end up on the scoreboard each inning? And even if you like the way he looks, you know he’s nearing the end of his day. Managers need to plan ahead and have contingencies ready. It looked like he got caught not paying attention.

karkovice squad

His evidence was that Cease still had his peak velocity. Which on its own isn’t dispositive of staving off fatigue. He should’ve put more weight on the lack of whiffs, the amount of hard contact, the difficulty pitching with intent in the 5th, and the high effort expended to get through the inning. There were a lot of warning signs a poorly timed cement-mixer was likely and that it would do damage.

Running up his pitch count to 100 in the 6th also ain’t so hot since that’s more taxing than 100 pitches reached in the 7th, 8th, or 9th even without the 5th inning struggle. It’s just unnecessary wear and tear normally let alone in a season where we’re told the goal is survival.

DrCrawdad

Going into this series I was merely hoping they wouldn’t get swept. Once they won the first two, I wanted a sweep. 0-4 RISP & leaving Cease in too long ended hope of a sweep.

Oddvark

All the home runs lately have been great, but the team really needs to start hitting with men on.

I wonder if Moncada’s struggles are part of a COVID hangover.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I think it’s more likely that his struggles are due to his legs not working.

Oddvark

I hope his legs not working isn’t a lingering effect of COVID.

burning-phoneix

At the start of the fifth, I was wondering why no one was warming up in the pen in case Cease gets into trouble. After he survived the bases loaded jam, I for sure thought his day was done, good job kid but no he went out AGAIN with no backup warming up. All in all, if a starter can deliver 6 IP with less than 3 ER that’s still a great outing but I think in such a shortened season, in a rivalry game with a chance of a sweep and only 1 run differential, it might be time to go all in with the bullpen.

Hey, if someone told me going into this series that we would get 2 wins from 3 I would take it in an instant but damn I want to be greedy and go for the sweep. Hope the lads can take out the frustration of this game on the Pie Rats.

Also, Luis Robert struck out 4 times on only 13 pitches. He was set down 3 times on 3 pitches each and his last one was 4 pitches. He looked absolutely lost.

shaggy65

Old school managing takes the loss. Ricky needs to get out of the mindset of “leave him in for the 3rd time through unless he looks done” and reverse it to “take him out before the 3rd time through unless he looks electric”. Someone should be warming every time a starter is being seen the 3rd time, unless they are cruising.

ESPECIALLY given that all 9 relievers were available from a well-rested bullpen and we have 2 of the next 4 days off, there was no reason at all to push Cease when he had already done his job. We have an excellent bullpen, so let’s play like it.

iowasox1971

As much as I usually dislike Renteria’s managing, I blame Robert and Anderson more for this loss. Robert struck out all four times he was up today, while Anderson had crummy at-bats except for his walk in the ninth. Also, Moncada did not look good at all after his early hit. He might need to go on the injured list.

Sometimes I think the people on this site never want to see one of our starters go more than four innings ever again. Cease was pitching a shutout in the sixth. There was no reason to pull him. Putting a middle reliever in for a starter who’s pitching a shutout in the sixth usually is not the best strategy. (There’s a reason one guy starts and the other is in middle relief.) People have to realize that our “excellent bullpen” is without its best reliever, and some of our other guys are either pitching way over their heads or the league just hasn’t figured them out just yet.

Also, seeing Gio Gonzalez somehow pitch so well the previous night might have made some people think that everyone in our bullpen is invincible. It’s not. A reliever could have given up a run or two or three in that inning when Schwarber hit the homer. And the more we pitch these bullpen guys in the middle innings, the more they will be exposed to future opponents and the less effective they will become. Plus, the more they get used, the more they will be tired in September or October. I might add that Marshall and Colome had endured tough outings the night before, so one of them possibly was not available.

Finally, when Cease is pitching a shutout, you can’t have him thinking that he’s going to be taken out of the game if he gives up a hit, especially when he had gotten out of the previous jams. Otherwise, he will never be more than a four- or five-inning guy. But maybe that’s what you guys want anyhow.

Brett R. Bobysud

I don’t think you can realistically IL Moncada until Madrigal comes back, unless you absolutely have to. Because then you have to trust someone like Goins in the lineup regularly until whenever Madrigal’s available.

If Madrigal’s back, then you can slide Mendick over to 3rd base and give Yoan a week and a half off.

After the Minnesota series the first few days of September, the Sox have 9 games against the Tigers, Pirates, and Royals, so that might be a good chance to sit Moncada,

craigws

Sometimes I think the people on this site never want to see one of our starters go more than four innings ever again

If it means the team is more likely to win, I’m completely fine with that. Better that than being tied to some lumpen definition of ‘starter’.

As Cirensica

And often

Eagle Bones

People have to realize that our “excellent bullpen” is without its best reliever, and some of our other guys are either pitching way over their heads or the league just hasn’t figured them out just yet.

This is ignoring underlying stats completely. I guess if you’re just looking at guys ERAs, yeah some of them are pitching over their heads as they’re probably not going to complete the season without allowing an earned run. But there is no one in there that’s going full smoke and mirrors right now. Colome, Marshall, Heuer, Burdi, Foster and Cordero all look like legitimately good relievers when you check under the hood and even Detwiler has made significant changes that could stick as something meaningful.

Also the I don’t think they needed to be overly concerned about taxing the pen considering (1) the expanded rosters this year means more pitchers available, (2) the pen was largely rested coming into this game and (3) they have two off days this week.

Sometimes I think the people on this site never want to see one of our starters go more than four innings ever again.

Yes I think we need to get used to a new normal as it applies to that if we want this team to be good. There is a reason other smart teams are moving in that direction (i.e. it works). I don’t think that means no starter ever gets to work deep into a game, but it probably means that the non-Giolito/Keuchel starters should need to show they have that ability on a given night, rather than getting the benefit of the doubt.

iowasox1971

This organization has had its greatest success when we have used our pitching staff in the traditional sense and received strong efforts and innings from our starters. No one can deny that.

I don’t have any stats to back this up, and I would be interested in knowing if anyone has any such data, but I would guess that our winning percentage in so-called “bullpen games” the past few years is around .250, maybe even lower. Like it or not, we certainly have not perfected this method. I get that Tampa Bay and Oakland have had success with a variation of it, but I do not remember the true top teams of the past five years, such as the Yankees, Astros, Cubs, Braves, Red Sox, Indians and Dodgers using it very often. I would rather try to emulate what the champions do, rather than the teams that often fail to last past the first round of the playoffs.

I was glad to see Gio Gonzalez finally pitch well in relief the other night. He deserved that victory. I did think that when the move was made to take Lopez out, it was a quick hook. Lopez had settled down and was starting to pitch very well. Then again, they must have agreed before the game that he would be pulled after about 50 pitches because of his previous injury. Fair enough.

However, the fact that it worked this one time does NOT mean that we should always bring in a reliever with a 6.00 ERA for a starter who is pitching well in the fourth inning. Nor does it mean that we should automatically bring in a middle reliever for a starter pitching a shutout in the sixth inning.

texag10

You know what this team hasn’t had the past few years? Competent bullpen pieces. Even without Bummer, Heuer and Foster are pitching fantastically. Burdi and Cordero are also very solid. Detwiler could have been brought in to pitch two innings if that’s what we needed. I don’t care that Cease had a shutout after 5 innings because he didn’t finish with it and we lost the game. I’ve seen enough of how this team acts in the dugout to believe that if Cease gets pulled after 5 and we win this game 1-0, no one is going to be upset. And if Cease is upset enough for it to impact performance, that’s what Keuchel and Abreu are for.

Eagle Bones

Also, there’s a big difference between a “bullpen game” and pulling a starter before the end of the 6th inning. I have yet to see anyone on this site advocate for a bullpen game. It would also help if Ricky would implement them properly by not using their worst relievers for multiple innings but that neither here nor there.

And the yankees, astros and dodgers are three of the more progressive teams in the league when it comes to pitching strategy. If you’re emulating what those teams do, it includes all of the strategies this guy is shouting down. This seems like an old man yells at cloud situation.

texag10

Cease hasn’t exactly shown he can be an innings eater so far so I’m not sure why you’re expecting him to be a consistent 6+ IP guy every year. The fact is, he had decent control but was missing badly the last few innings and he got hit hard yesterday and escaped thanks to some good luck. He had 8 95mph+ EV events and 6! that were 100mph+. The fact that only 4 (and 3 respectively) were for hits leaves me surprised we only gave up 2 runs.

I don’t really know what to make of Cease this year. I see things that I like but he’s not been anywhere near as good as his traditional numbers would indicate. Anyone with a better grasp of advanced stats that can give me reason for hope that he can be a good pitcher going forward?

karkovice squad

He has a genuinely elite pitch mix–the slider whiff rate in particular–and flashes signs of putting together the control and command to harness it.

I’m relatively optimistic he’ll eventually do that more consistently and igure out a way to get more whiffs on the fastball or generate softer contact. They shouldn’t handle him now like that’s a fait accompli, though.

Oddvark

I agree that the best winning strategy is to keep pitchers out of unfavorable situations (e.e., 3rd time through the order, especially when there are signs that their stuff isn’t exceptional and/or is starting to wane with fatigue) and rely on quality relief pitchers to cover multiple innings. From that perspective, Cease should have been pulled earlier than he was.

But while guys like Foster, Heuer, and Burdi in particular have looked very good, we’re looking at very small sample sizes, and we really don’t know how consistently good they will be. And the more innings you ask the bullpen to handle, the more pitchers you will have to use, and the more chances that one or more of them will have an off-night — I’m always worried when a reliever comes in that he won’t be able to find the plate or that his breaking pitches won’t break that night. That’s just to say that there is obviously inherent risk in turning to the bullpen for long stretches.

Regardless, the real reason we lost on Sunday was that we only scored one run. That is definitely not going to be a winning outcome very often.

iowasox1971

You’re exactly right. The more guys you bring in, the greater the chance that someone will not have it that day. And, as you mentioned, many of these bullpen guys, while pitching well right now, do not have proven track records.

Eagle Bones

While we’re still looking at small sample sizes, things like velocity, spin rate, whiff rate, etc. stabilize pretty quickly. That isn’t to say we know exactly what these guys are at this point, but I feel like I can say fairly confidently that these guys you mention are good pitchers of some degree.

And yes, there is risk one of them will come in and “not have it” on a particular night. However, the alternative is leaving in a pitcher who we can all unequivocally see has “lost it” for that night. There are no certainties here, but it’s about playing the odds and the odds seem pretty good that a good pitcher who is fresh will be better than a good pitcher who is gassed.

As Cirensica

It was an enjoyable week. We can’t win’em all, but this is a team I can enjoy watching every day. No games today ????

GrinnellSteve

I hate an off day after a loss. I want to get back in there and get that bitter taste out of my mouth.

I also hate an off day after a win. Don’t stop now, boys!

El Arvo

Shame on you Jim. I have a tendency to picture what I read literally before I interpret it….see horseshoe comment