White Sox 6, Mariners 0: Lefties bring good news

The White Sox ran their record against left-handed pitching to 16-0 since the start of the 2020 season, thanks in part to the effort of their own lefty on the mound.

Carlos Rodón pitched five encouraging innings, with Michael Kopech and José Ruiz backing him up to combine for the first shutout of the season. An inelegant yet persistent effort from the offense provided a welcome West Coast cruiser after a bruising series in Anaheim.

Rodón struck out nine over his five shutout innings, pitching around two hits, three walks and two HBPs. He needed 95 pitches because he found himself in a couple of jams, partially due to lackluster slider command, and partially due to defense.

First inning: Nick Madrigal’s inability to catch Mitch Haniger’s tricky pop-up — and his greater inability to recover in time for a throw to second — meant that Rodón had to throw 12 extra pitches to end the inning.

Third inning: Rodón gave up a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford, then fired wildly on a pickoff throw that gave Crawford two bases. Yet Crawford didn’t score, as Rodón rallied with two strikeouts sandwiching a shallow flyout.

Fourth inning: Rodón loaded the bases on three consecutive one-out walks, but induced a weak grounder for a force at home, then struck out Crawford.

Rodón’s hit two batters with sliders and nearly beaned another, but he was a bully with his fastball, getting nine of his 19 whiffs on that pitch. When the Mariners made contact, it wasn’t firm, maxing out with a 98.6 mph exit velocity flagged down by Andrew Vaughn on the warning track in his toughest test to date.

The White Sox offense had plenty of lasers in stock, producing the 10 hardest-hit balls on the evening, including four of the top five by White Sox catchers. Yasmani Grandal hit a resounding solo shot in the second off Justus Sheffield and added a blistered two-run single in the fifth, both at 107 mph, while Yermín Mercedes rifled a short-hop double off the left-field wall at 112.2 mph and came up with another single at 103.6 mph.

Because Mercedes is charmed, he also contributed a third hit — an infield single at 48.8 mph. Even Leury García’s bases-loading bunt single beat it by five ticks.

Iffy Seattle defense also helped. The White Sox were able to crack this game open in the fourth inning because Kyle Seager booted what should’ve been an easy double-play ball off the bat of Grandal with Mercedes on first. García followed with his bunt off the plate to give the Sox their first hit with runners in scoring position since days ago, and Vaughn drove in his first career run with an HBP to make it a 2-0 game.

Billy Hamilton then shot a single to center for another run and a 3-0 lead, and a Madrigal double-play ball scored another run. The Sox didn’t need Grandal’s two-run single in the fifth, but he was happy to provide it anyway for the final score.

Bullet points:

*Kopech outdid himself in his second appearance, striking out five Mariners over two innings, yielding just a double and a walk. Ruiz also did his by throwing 17 of 22 pitches for strikes with a six-run lead, and carried it the rest of the way.

*Yoán Moncada struck out three more times, but he also singled twice to show signs of breaking out.

*Vaughn is now 0-for-9 with five strikeouts while Mercedes is 12-for-18, for those handicapping the Rookie of the Year race.

Record: 2-3 | 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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burning-phoneix

Nothing like a LHP morsel to whet the appetite. Hope James Paxton is still rusty as well.

Michael Kenny

It occurs to me that we’ve all had no choice but to take the White Sox at their word when they said Vaughn was major league ready. When have we ever trusted them in talent evaluation?

ParisSox

It’s an over-correction for holding down guys long past when they were ready to contribute.

As Cirensica

9 PAs is a small sample. I’ll wait until he passes the Ventura line (41 hitless at-bats). I am a bit worried because sometimes he looks overmatched. What is more, we went from Eloy production to no production when Hahn thought Vaughn could be a replacement for LF. Also, even though he caught the deep fly Jim commented above, he looked uncomfortable, and his ‘s’ shape route was not pretty.

I still think Hahn needs to find a replacement outside of the organization for Eloy.

Last edited 1 year ago by As Cirensica
tommytwonines

You need to factor in Mercedes’ production because it’s likely Vaughn would have started the first four games at DH if Eloy were healthy.

Your third outfielder “replacement” arrives when Engel comes off the IL and Leury is your Swiss-army-knife fourth guy with Vaughn relegated to fifth and some DH or quite possibly reassignment to Schaumburg.

Then again, it’s only 9 plate appearances.

Last edited 1 year ago by tommytwonines
Joliet Orange Sox

It’s actually 11 PA’s with 9 AB’s, a BB, and HBP. 9 and 11 are both tiny numbers. Plenty of good hitters have had an 0 for 9 streak in their careers.

tommytwonines

I was given faulty reconnaissance.

As Cirensica

Ooops…my bad

burning-phoneix

I still think there’s a chance Yoenis Cespedes or Josh Reddick comes in to plug the gap in Left Field once Minor League season starts.

BenwithVen

I just hope we’ve moved on from the sink-or-swim philosophy of player development that defined the Buddy Bell years.

knoxfire30

Great pitching effort from Rodon and Kopech, both guys along with Crochett have really toned down their motions/windups ect. Kopech especially seemed totally calm and in control I wonder if he is still sweats thru multiple jerseys.

Yermin is a blast to watch, couldnt be happier for a guy who it took forever to get to the majors. Been kinda surprised that he isnt a total clog on the bases. He got a great jump and read on the Grandal single that knocked him in from 2nd with ease, and beating out an infield hit was pretty great as well.

One negative note, Madrigal the defensive wizard has another non play not made leading to a Haniger double, his base running hasn’t been anything special, and his at bats were a bit baffling as he was reaching for pitchers pitches ahead in the count on a few occasions last not and making weak contact… the double play at bad was real bad. When do we start calling him out for having a low baseball IQ?

Trooper Galactus

Madrigal has been…uh…maddening? His skills seem to have been vastly overstated.

As Cirensica

I wonder how many plays and years it will take fans to realize that Madrigal has nothing special going on on his glove.

burning-phoneix

>Years
Nick Madrigal has only 33 Major league games under his belt. Barely a month of time in the Bigs. This is far too impatient. It’s not like fans are the ones who hyped his glove, every single talent evaluator did.

He was in the 85th percentile in Outs Above Average in Statcast in 2020 and his UZR and TZR were generally decent in that year as well.

As Cirensica

Maybe I should say rephrase it as “how many plays and years it will take some fans to realize that Madrigal has nothing special going on on his glove or to some other fans that he is an above-average fielder.”

HallofFrank

Probably a lot more than there’s been? I suspect the defensive transition from minors to majors is much less than the offensive transition, but it still is a transition. It’s odd—given Sox fan’s experiences with Robert, Jimenez, Moncada, Giolito (and more)—that a 33 game sample is enough to make these kind of pronouncements. Especially when, as b-p points out, the metrics have been solid and he’s just made a few blunders. He hasn’t been as impressive as scouts generally think he may be, but then again very few players are that impressive in their first 33 games.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I was willing to be more patient with those guys because the ability was apparent and they could do enough even while struggling to make themselves valuable. With Madrigal, there was already a debate about his value even if he was as advertised. The fact that he appears to not be a particularly bright player only compounds the issue. I’m less willing to take my lumps with him because he’s killing you every game he’s out there.

How is he “killing” the Sox, exactly? He was worth .5 WAR in 29 games last season (2.8 WAR in 162 games); led team in OBP; projected worth 2+ WAR in a full season. He’s not the best 2nd basemen in the league, but by pretty much any projection & scouting report he’ll be an above average one.

What do you mean by “not a particularly bright player”? What an odd conclusion to draw from such a small sample. In terms of decision making, the only mistakes I can think of are the two base running blunders from last season. Maybe there’s more I’m not thinking of. But dropping a ball or making a throwing error have nothing to do with how bright a player is. If he was throwing to the wrong base, that’s a different story.

Trooper Galactus

FG had him at 0.1 fWAR. His baserunning and defense really brought him down by their metrics. I think we can all agree he can improve, but what he’s shown has been far from what was advertised.

HallofFrank

Defense and base running wise, that’s true. Offensively he’s been pretty much as advertised (notwithstanding a slow start to ’21). But, yeah, my point was just he deserves more time before some of the judgments made around here are pronounced. If the defense and base running continue like this, I agree it’s a problem.

Trooper Galactus

I agree, they’re correctable problems. The question is if they will get corrected, how long it will take, and how badly will it hurt the team in the interim?

Right Size Wrong Shape

He made a base running blunder two days ago, and got bailed out because the pitcher threw it into left field.

As Cirensica

Robert, Jimenez, and Moncada hit the ball really hard, so I am more willing to wait until that power start finding seats or gaps. Madrigal has no much power, so his ceiling is a lot of singles, which is OK if accompanied by good baserunning and defense.

Last edited 1 year ago by As Cirensica
HallofFrank

Right, the singles are already there, though. He led the team in OBP last season. My original point was that defense & base running also involve a transition, too. To write a guy off for 5 errors this early in his career is too hasty (at best).

Right Size Wrong Shape

If all he’s doing is hitting singles while playing bad defense and screwing up on the bases, he’s hurting your team.

Well, I guess it’s a good thing that’s not all he’s doing then?

As Cirensica

I am not writing him off. I just have lower expectations than many White Sox fans here. I think he will be around average player (2 – 2.5 WAR per year) for a few years, then a bench player (although 2B bench players are not exactly a hot commodity as Yolmer can tell).

HallofFrank

I don’t know how to make sense of this…

I wonder how many plays and years it will take fans to realize that Madrigal has nothing special going on on his glove.

…as anything other than writing him off defensively. That is different than writing him off altogether, but I’m only talking about defense right now (I brought up his offense in response to RSWS’s claim that he is “killing” the team). Let’s give the dude at least a couple of month’s before we claim all the scouting reports about him bunk.

As Cirensica

I said “nothing special”, that means, I don’t think his fielding is elite (like Yolmer). nothing special is another way to say average or more colloquially speaking “meh”.

burning-phoneix

I wouldn’t worry about Madrigal’s glove, it’s the one thing all scouts agreed on was good even if they doubted the Hit tool. Kid is trying to do way way too much, forgot he had Billy Hamilton in Right.

Trooper Galactus

Scouts focus on physical skills more than anything. Madrigal has the footwork, speed, and reactions to be an excellent second baseman. But I think his decision-making has definitely left a lot to be desired at this level, and I’m not sure how well that would have been evident in the minors. Regardless, it is correctable, though I’m not sure how patient they can be with him on that given the limitations on his offensive contributions.

knoxfire30

He is kind of a guy that needs it all working though, high average, lots of steals, lots of good defense… think the infield version of Juan Pierre. The problem is early on is he has only shown the high average bat ability the defense has been bad, baserunning not what it was hyped as… its concerning cause he is never gonna have power so he really needs all the other tools to be a starter. And if he isnt a starter he doesnt really offer anything as a utility guy because he cant play the left side of the infield.

burning-phoneix

His defense was in the 85th percentile in 2020 according to statcast. Fans laser in on his very public errors but he’s generally sounds. He’ll get better with experience as even though he seems to have been around for a while, he’s only got 33 games/118 ABs in the Major leagues.

Greg Nix

Defensive metrics like OAA are generally not very useful in a 30-game sample. I think it’s completely fair to say Madrigal’s glove has been a huge disappointment thus far in his career.

knoxfire30

Eye test he has been pretty bad, and we need him to be a spectacular fielder, a good if not great base runner, and a very high average hitter to make up for his power deficiency. Its absolutely a light sample size but this was a top 5 pick from a prestigious college baseball team that was suppose to be ready to go especially with his glove and legs.

texag10

I don’t know if I’m just not getting nuance in some of these comments but the expectations here are ridiculous. Madrigal was never going to be a 5 WAR player and anyone who thought that is crazy. That being said, David Fletcher had a 3.3 fWAR season in 2019 with 6 homers and 8 SBs. He did it with a sub .300 average but he walks a bit more than Madrigal probably will so the OBP will most likely favor Fletcher by a little bit. The key is going to be defense and while Fletcher is damn good defender, Madrigal being just “good” gets him in the range of 2 WAR which is a successful draft pick, even if it’s not the perennial all star that some people seem to want him to be.

knoxfire30

I didnt “love” the pick for this exact reason though. If a top 5 pick has 0 chance of being a 5 war type impact player his floor needs to be sky high. A 2 war at 2nd is yolmer sanchez its basically an accumulation stat at that point and there was no need to waste that high a pick on a player you can easily find then. Fletcher is a good comp thats who he needs to be of course Fletcher was a 6th round pick…

Trooper Galactus

Getting an average MLB player with ANY pick is a winning outcome. Just look at the number of top-5 picks that never make the bigs or are negative value players in their brief careers.

HallofFrank

I’ve been defending Madrigal, but I think @knoxfire30’s point is a good one. Suppose Team A drafts for high upside and in 3 drafts they get 1 stud (5 WAR/season) & 2 busts. Team B drafts for high floor and gets 3 average MLBers (2 WAR/season each). Team A probably does better in the long run.

Trooper Galactus

Kinda depends on how much budget each team has toward filling out their roster. In the case of the White Sox, their inability to find 2 WAR players to surround their stars with is what got us 2015-16. Also, often times attempting to get three studs results in 3 busts. Nothing is predictive, and obviously upside is great, but my philosophy is that getting starter value out of the draft is good even if said starter is decidedly average.

knoxfire30

exactly, i can sign 2 war guys all day every day

Trooper Galactus

The problem is Hahn can’t seem to do it.

knoxfire30

In a bubble I agree. But if it were me and say I was drafting in the top 5 three years in a row, each time I would rather take the guy with the possible 5 WAR outcome and 0 WAR bust possibility then the guy with the 2 WAR floor and maybe 3 WAR high end turnout.

I also think given the whitesox total reluctance to shop at the top end of the free agent market its exactly the strategy they should use.

Trooper Galactus

I think Madrigal has a potential 5 WAR outcome, but it’s pretty much his 100% outcome (.330/.370/.400 hitter, Gold Glove level defense, plus baserunning).

Trooper Galactus

A team loaded with 3 WAR players would actually be a pretty good team. The Astros led the AL in bWAR in 2019 with 67.9 (they were far ahead of the A’s and Yankees, who had 50 and 49.9 respectively). If you had 3 WAR collectively at each of the nine positions and five starter spots, you’d have 42 WAR. I think getting 8 total WAR from your relievers and bench (as well as miscellaneous replacements) isn’t such a task if you can avoid performance sinkholes. It might not be a powerhouse and would lack that extra punch for the playoffs, but it’s definitely a contender.

As Cirensica

Fletcher hit 30 doubles and 4 triples in that 2019 year. Madrigal has 3 doubles and no triples to show for. He needs to develop gap power, but I see a lot of grounders and short flies. My expectation for Madrigal is 2 WAR player average which makes him just average and just a tab bit better than Yolmer. Madrigal in his 30s, he probably is gonna be unplayable.

Now, if he can develop some power… expectations could change.

HallofFrank

More gap power would be great, obviously, but the other path to being really good is being a better defender (and baserunner). If he’s the gold glover we always thought he would be, a 115-ish wRC+ with a .370+ OBP will work just fine at 2B. I’d take that right now.

texag10

Well gee, if he’s going to be unplayable in his 30s we might as well cut him now.

Trooper Galactus

I thought when it was discussed previously the general consensus was that 5 WAR was sort of Madrigal’s 100th percentile outcome. The thing is we expected a 2 WAR player on the low end, and that’s not what we’ve been seeing from him.

BenwithVen

I only the caught the first 3/4 innings since I’m on the east coast. That JP Crawford misplay is something that would completely undo Rodon in the past, so it’s awesome that he was able to pitch past it so impressively.

I feel like Robert is going to go on a tear soon. He’s been hitting balls hard, but they’ve been right at defenders. He looks 100% better than he did in Spring. Almost the complete opposite of Yoan.

tommytwonines

I wouldn’t be surprised if TLR puts Robert at lead off tonight and Madrigal slips down in the order.

digger0910

Did Yoan hit fourth much last year? Maybe get him out of that spot for a while.

Trooper Galactus

Nice recovery by Vaughn to make that catch, but there looks like cause for concern in that his route was a mess and his throw back to the infield was even worse.

Steve

That throw was all adrenaline.

burning-phoneix

Dude was trying to get a double play on first. Converted Infielder makes a warning track catch and suddenly thinks he’s Ichiro lol.

tommytwonines

He made the play, but no style points.

I think he’s savvy enough not to hurt himself running into the wall, at least.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I dunno, that one definitely had back of head crashing into wall written all over it. Hate to say it, but that one looked pretty lucky. He did look good on the play that followed, though.

Last edited 1 year ago by Right Size Wrong Shape

I was kinda concerned he’d strain an oblique muscle with the way he twisted himself.