White Sox 5, Cardinals 1: Sox beneficiaries of questionable managerial decision

After a weekend in the Bronx that featured questionable bullpen decision-making from Tony La Russa, the White Sox were the benefactors of a regrettable managerial choice on Monday night. 

St. Louis took the lead in the sixth inning after Lance Lynn was no-hitting them through the first five frames. Tommy Edman did most of the heavy lifting by taking a walk, stealing second, advancing to third base on a flyout, and scoring on Paul Goldschmidt’s liner through Tim Anderson. It appeared to be a play that Anderson should have made on replay, but the official scorer ruled it as a single. Before anyone called the scoring office to challenge the decision, Yadier Molina singled to left field. Lynn got out of the jam by getting Matt Carpenter to ground out. 

In the bottom half of the sixth inning, Manager Mike Shildt went to the mound after his starter Kwang Hyun Kim struck out Yasmani Grandal looking. There were two outs; Yermin Mercedes was on first base, and coming up to bat was the rookie, Andrew Vaughn. Earlier in the game, Vaughn laced a double down the left-field line off Kim and was hitting .290/.436/.645 against lefties in 2021. It seemed like a pretty easy call for Shildt to go the bullpen. 

While meeting on the mound, the conversation was primarily between Kim’s translator and Molina. It appeared that Kim talked his way into staying in the game to finish the inning. Quickly, Kim fell behind to Vaughn 2-0 when he tried to grab a strike with his changeup. A veteran move in attempting to fool a rookie hitter loading up for a fastball. 

Credit to Vaughn’s advanced hitting prowess because he wasn’t fooled. Waiting back, Vaughn smashed the changeup into the White Sox bullpen in left-field for a two-run homer. 

Surprisingly, Shildt left Kim in to face Leury Garcia but also walked him. Sticking with his pitcher two batters too long, Shildt finally went to the bullpen. Next was Daniel Ponce de Leon, and he proceeded to hit Nick Madrigal on the elbow. With runners on first and second, it was Anderson’s turn. 

After three straight fastballs to put Ponce de Leon ahead in the count, 1-2, Molina called for a fourth fastball. Anderson appeared to be ready for a breaking pitch because he was a bit late in his swing, but staying level through the zone allowed him to barrel up the heater. Anderson’s line drive stayed fair down the right-field line for an opposite-field double that scored both Garcia and Madrigal. Anderson would get thrown out at third base trying to extend a double into a triple. A 1-0 lead for the Cardinals quickly turned into a 4-1 deficit with all runs scored on two outs. 

Lynn was effective while still searching for his premium stuff. The strikeout totals he posted earlier in the season are missing, but he’s still getting top of the rotation results. The Cardinals hitters just mustered three singles and walks against Lynn over seven innings. The final line was 7 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 4 K, as Lynn’s season ERA is now 1.51. 

Replacing Lynn was Michael Kopech, who covered the final two innings. Pumping 99-mph fastballs and making hitters bend with his slider. Then there was the changeup. A 91-mph offering that just seems to float away from left-handed hitters that sparks the imagination and tweets from Pitching Ninja. It’s the type of pitching effort from Lynn and Kopech that makes managing a game pretty easy. 

Adam Eaton scored the White Sox fifth run using his legs. After walking, Ponce de Leon made a wayward pickoff throw to first base that allowed Eaton to advance to second. He had an opportunity to scoot to third base if he caught third base coach Joe McEwing rounding second base. However, Molina would fail to backhand a slider in the dirt that kicked away from him and allowed Eaton to reach third base. Mercedes would hit a deep enough fly in the right field to plate Eaton and get the sacrifice fly RBI. 

Game Notes:

  • The Chicago White Sox are now 10-3 vs. LHP starters in 2021
  • Andrew Vaughn was 2-for-4 with the homer and double
  • Yermin Mercedes was 2-for-3 with an RBI
  • Jose Abreu went 0-for-2 but walked twice
  • Yoan Moncada had a quiet night going 0-for-4 but was robbed of an RBI single thanks to a great catch by Dylan Carlson. 
  • Nick Madrigal hit a double that was a flare to center field that Harrison Bader made a diving attempt for but fell short. He appeared to be injured on the dive and left the game with the Cardinals calling a rib injury. 

Record: 27-19 | Box Score | StatCast

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Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Joist

I think you meant “beneficiaries”, not “benefactors”.

Also, this is a bit more pedantic, but Anderson would likely not have been credited with a triple even if he’d made it to 3rd – it would have been a double with an advance to third on the throw home.

Also love that you removed Daniel Ponce De Leon’s first name and just called him by the explorer’s name.

Joist

A quandary indeed! Nice writeup though. I had the same thought about how nice it is to be on the other end of questionable manager moves.

It reminds me of Jim’s mantra, “your team’s problems are not unique”. I have no love lost for TLR, especially the Yermin nonsense, but it is worth remembering that he’s not the only one who struggles with tactical decisions such as maximizing one’s best relievers for the highest-leverage situations.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joist
ParisSox

To TLR’s credit, he continued to play Yermin through the controversy. No benching of their best hitter, which would have probably caused a mutiny. Is it possible to give credit for NOT doing something?

IllinoisJones

Credit for playing one of your only decent hitters with (at that point) 3 of your best out with injuries? I mean, if you absolutely HAVE to find something…

Jim Margalus

Ponce de Leon is the correct secondary usage. Or “Punched the Lion” if you translate it.

burning-phoneix

I apologize to Andrew Vaughn for suggesting that he be sent down to AAA

metasox

there is still the matter of hitting right handers

asinwreck

Indeed, though that is a teamwide issue.

burning-phoneix

I looked it up real quick and that’s not actually the case. The Sox are 6th in wRC+ versus RHP. The only regular members of the team that are below average versus lefties are Nick Madrigal, Andrew Vaughn, Billy Hamilton and Leury Garcia, and the final two are just below average hitters in general.

Jim Margalus

Tops in OBP, 10th in slugging. Instant offense is hard to find, which is why guys like Cole and Bieber present bigger challenges than usual.

HallofFrank

Yep. 7th in PA vs. RHP but 24th in HR. They can draw a walk but do little with it.

At least they dominate LHP! No MLB team has a .800 OPS or higher against RHP or LHP… except the White Sox .836 OPS against LHP.

mikeschach

The Sox really need to trade for an outfielder who can hit – give up some future (non Tatis-esque) quality to get some present quality. What might it take to get Hanniger?

texag10

Weirdly, a Mariners blog posted an article about this a few days ago. The “fair value” trade that was proposed and backed up with the baseball trade simulator was Heuer/Kelley for Haniger. While Haniger is no doubt useful, we can’t afford to trade away Heuer and I don’t get the feeling Kelley is on the block just yet.

https://sodomojo.com/2021/05/22/seattle-mariners-mitch-haniger-trade/

Joist

I dunno, I think I would do that. Heuer is nice and Kelley might be good but Haniger could make a real difference this year (plus the volatility of relievers has never been more apparent, plus TINSTAAPP).

texag10

Just because TINSTAAPP doesn’t mean we should get rid of the only projectable ones we have the year after we go overslot to draft him.

But if getting somebody that can mash is the goal, let’s just get Gallo instead. Lefty, takes walks, same team control as Haniger, most likely costs less in trade. He’s basically the RF version of Grandal so what’s not to like?

burning-phoneix

Screencap this: Sox will sign Seiya Suzuki from Japan next season.

Blow my Gload

Will he sign for cheap?

burning-phoneix

People expect his price to be 4Years/80 million

soxfan

After everybody’s healthy, maybe we can send him down to work on his defense to get that extra year of control back.

Root Cause

When everyone is back, he will be back to playing DH and 1st base.
He has hit about 3 homers in the last week and hit a double and a homer last night.
By the time Eloy is back, he might be on the shortlist for Rookie of the Year.

mrridgman

Not a certainty that Eloy will immediately replace Vaughn in left field; the eye test says that Vaughn may be just as good as Eloy out there, with much less chance for injury. The other side of the coin is Eloy’s psyche; he previously was adamant about staying in the field. it will be interesting.

Root Cause

I agree. Eloy showed flashes of greatness at times but his double clutch with every throw was a frequent topic for concern. Vaughn may have a better arm. For sure, Eloy comes back rusty and Vaughn will have had 3 or 4 more months of experience. I think your eye test will say that Vaughn is better but others will have to decide which one has a higher ceiling and who will be willing to just DH.

I would be happy for Vaughn to DH and spot LF and 1st on occasion.

Red_Hair_White_Sox

If Vaughn and Mercedes keep hitting all season, the only real option is to slide Vaughn into RF and deal with the poor corner defense. Engel and Robert are both plus defenders and plus plus runners which allows for a bit of leeway.

Vaughn has the arm for right and the offense would be immense

knoxfire30

Eaton is still out hitting Vaughn vs righties but I think its a matter of time before that difference goes away and there will never be a time that its appropriate to sit Vaughn in favor of Eaton vs a lefty so Vaughn in RF may have to happen at least part of the time.

mrridgman

This might appeal to the Sox, given that this would be the cheapest 2022 option for RF. It might work too.

burning-phoneix

Yes, Vaughn is the equal of Eloy in left. Equally bad lol. Good thing about Vaughn is that he realizes his limitations and doesn’t go slamming into walls or nets.

knoxfire30

Defensive metrics in this few of games need to be taken with a grain of salt but Vaughns are all positive, and he has passed the eye test too.

Malkatraz

Vaughn has been more than solid in the outfield. Eloy was literally a danger to anyone else around him (including himself).

If Eloy ever plays left field again on a regular basis I will be extremely disappointed.

Holland23

Prepare to be disappointed…

mikeschach

maybe by “work on his defense” they meant “work on not injuring himself playing defense” – in which case, boy were they right.

texag10

Great game by the Sox but damn ESPN is shit when it comes to baseball broadcasts. Whether its just completely ignoring the on the field action, not timing segments right, or just general jackassery, I can’t wait to get back to watching the Sox on MLB.TV tonight.

phillyd

I was able to watch on MLB.tv last night. I think only the Sunday Night games are blacked out.

theSKOT

Looks like it is only Sunday night ESPN games and some streamed on YouTube. Here is the full list. The White Sox have no more games on the list.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/broadcasts/national_wkend.jsp

knoxfire30

Feels great to watch another manager lose a game!

Also feels great knowing after decades of calling LF the NL DH and saying anyone could play there thus it was ridiculous to concede that Vaughn couldn’t, he continues to handle it with flying colors. Carlos lee and eloy jiminez be damned a college age athlete should never be labeled a 1b/dh only.

Should be another fun one tonight with Giolito and Flaherty, lets get em!

HallofFrank

Maybe it’s pressing luck, but Vaughn’s success makes me hope they try Burger—especially the slimmed-down version—elsewhere. They’ll probably keep him at 3B for a bit as he returns to playing every day, but why not try him at 2B, LF, and RF to see how he looks? That gives him multiple avenues to help the big league club in the near future (including Jake Burger: Utility Man) but at the very least makes him more attractive to other teams.

knoxfire30

Reports are he plays a pretty decent 3rd… his best avenue for the whitesox may simply be gaining enough trade value that they find a team with say a left hand hitting OF bat thats available who wants a 3rd baseman…

The business side of it to me seems to be the sox should do whats best for the big club which may not be whats directly best for burger finding his way to the pros (for the sox).

Still got a long way to go, I would hope they get him a full season under his belt at AAA, we can worry about where he plays or for who he plays next off season.

HallofFrank

I agree that there’s still a long way to go and a full, healthy season is a win for Burger. But Hahn’s point that “the good ones tend to force your hand” comes to mind. There are lot of enormous “ifs” swimming around, but if Burger continues to OPS .960+ in AAA and if the Sox could use a fresh bat in August, they shouldn’t just leave him down just because of his injury history.

I guess I don’t see the downside with trying him at other positions. Sure, keep him at 3B awhile longer to make sure he’s comfortable and healthy. But, if he is, why not let him practice at 2B, LF, or RF before games? And, if he looks decent, why not throw a few starts at each position at him? If he shows a Vaughn-like cromulency at another position, that’s only good for player and team. It gives the 25-year-old more paths to the Majors and gives the team more options.

mikeyb

From what I’ve seen, it is highly unlikely he could make 2B work. But I do agree that the minors are the place to try things, so if the coaches think it’s possible, why not? That being said, I would at least give it another month due to the injury history. Rotating him through 3B (3 games per series), 1B, RF, and LF could definitely prop up his trade value (or value to the Sox as a bench bat).

Hopefully the org kind of planned for this, since they seemed to target quite a few corner guys over a few year stretch there.

Trooper Galactus

I think one thing they might be waiting for is for his K rate to come down a bit (which it has started to). It’s currently well above his previous career rates, and while not ridiculously high, 25.8% is enough to want to see what adjustments he can make before pulling any triggers.

burning-phoneix

I’m so worried about Burger’s ankle that I sometimes wish they would just DH him for a while before letting him run around chasing groundballs. For now, I’d be happy if he just sticks to playing 3rd, maybe next season see if he can shift around.

lifelongjd

Is there a guy more frustrating than Grandal? He doesn’t even swing the bat anymore, especially when he’s hitting RH. He’s up there to do one thing & that’s take a walk. Maybe the Sox can start focus on developing Yermin’s defense so they don’t lose his bat when the big boys come back from injury.
Overall, a great and much needed win. They lost 4/5 since TLR trashed one of his players in public and failed to have his back when a team blatantly threw at him.

dwjm3

I don’t find a guy that is roughly on a 3.5 f/war pace frustrating at all. Grandal is a good player despite his counting stats not being the sexiest.

Malkatraz

I don’t like using Fangraphs for their catcher stats. While much better that baseball-ref they still overweight framing in my opinion. Baseball prospectus is great but I think you have to pay to get their framing/blocking/throwing information.

tommytwonines

Case in point: Giolito. “We spent a bundle on this great catcher, awesome framer, you’re gonna love him!”

“Yeah… I wanna pitch to McCann.”

On a related note: Tyler Flowers has retired so, Jim, if you want to do a postmortem on that crapshoot during a slow news day, I’m all in.

Last edited 1 year ago by tommytwonines
Trooper Galactus

You do not. Grandal is still one of the top-10 in the league in framing. Collins, conversely, is among the worst, especially on a per-pitch basis.

joewho112

How quickly does Fangraphs’ hitting number adjust to the run environment? In this homer suppressed environment, walks becoming increasingly less valuable compared to hits.

burning-phoneix

He’s actually pretty decent with ducks on the pond. 5th on the team in RBIs and 5th in Runs scored so if he isn’t driving in runs at least he’s usually available on the base paths to be driven in. Hopefully he converts some of those walks into extra base hits and pumps those numbers up.

texag10

I think my biggest gripe with his passivity is the number of called strikes he’s taken is significantly above his career numbers. I don’t mind him taking every walk that is given to him but he’s getting annoyed at getting strike three called on pitches over the heart of the plate and that’s a concern.

lifelongjd

This is what I meant in my original post. He just sits there and doesn’t swing, even hittable pitches. Then when called strikes he puts up a stink.
I’m all for taking walks, but his mindset is 100% passive. He’s making a lot of money to just walk and strike out. Obviously his defense is a huge benefit, but it doesn’t make it less frustrating to watch him hit.

metasox

I like Yermin, but besides the defense, there is the question of what kind of hitter he will be over time. He isn’t hitting for much power. And from the prospect report I had read, that was an open question. Grandal has provided more overall production this month.

mikeyb

To be fair, Yermin has more Extra Base Hits this year than Grandal has Total Hits.

metasox

More to the point, I would compare Yermin to other DH’s going forward. There is no indication he is likely to be catching anytime soon

Last edited 1 year ago by metasox
knoxfire30

he still actually provides some value as being a “3rd” catcher, the ability to pinch hit / pinch run collins and or grandal or play either at 1b etc etc gives the team some free reign without worrying about an injury and a horrible emergency catcher jam

xubrent

I was a little nervous early how they were struggling to pounce early on a pitcher who was more animated than his pitches were, but they made up quick for all the lost time. Hopefully TA7 can shake off the rust because this team clearly goes when he is going. That 2 Rbi double was encouraging.

Blow my Gload

What does a Lynn extension look like – 3 years/$60M?

Joist

This username is borderline inappropriate but also made me lol.

Joliet Orange Sox

Cleveland has placed Zach Plesac on the IL due to a non-displaced fracture of his right thumb. He injured it aggressively taking his shirt off after his last start.

GrinnellSteve

I’ve had too many shirt-taking-off injuries to count.

soxygen

Oh yeah, me too. I suffer from a condition called AGE. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Darnedest thing, sometimes I just hurt myself getting out of bed. Other times it hurts before I even try.