White Sox 8, Indians 3: Corey Kluber clobbered

Considering the White Sox hadn’t handled Corey Kluber a loss since July 24, 2015, there are a lot of ways to illustrate the shock of today’s score.

I mean, Kluber came into the game 9-0 with a 1.81 ERA over his last 11 starts against the Sox. He pantsed them in four starts last year, posting a 0.96 ERA over 26 innings.

Somehow, the White Sox scored more runs against him over the first 1⅓ innings this afternoon than they did all of last year. And those were the first four runs the White Sox had scored in the first three innings of any game this year.

Scratch “somehow,” though, because the reasons were apparent. Kluber made a lot of mistakes in the early innings, and just when it looked like he’d found his form, he fell right back out of it.

The White Sox offense snapped into gear on the first pitch, as Leury Garcia lined a first-pitch sinker to center. He’d eventually get hung up to dry after a pitch glanced off Roberto Perez’s glove and into the torso of home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, but the Sox kept the line moving behind him. Yoan Moncada walked, Jose Abreu’s chopper over the mound was booted by shortstop Eric Stamets, and Yonder Alonso put the Sox on the board with a single to right center.

Still, Kluber remained on the ropes. He gave up a 110-mph single to Eloy Jimenez that loaded the bases, then walked Daniel Palka to force home a second run. He should’ve walked Jose Rondon, but a wild 3-1 swing bailed him out, and Rondon had to settle for beating out a double-play attempt for an RBI fielder’s choice.

The top of the order did the job all afternoon, and it was plenty of support for Carlos Rodon, who threw a buttload of sliders, and most of them good. Rodon struck out nine while allowing just an unearned run on two hits and a walk, and he had to pitch around some miserable support.

In the first inning alone, Moncada bounced a throw past Abreu, then Rondon couldn’t keep another grounder in the infield, putting runners on the corners. A third grounder went through the right side for a Carlos Santana RBI single, but Rodon rallied for two strikeouts, capping the second with an emphatic “YES!”.

Rodon and the defense steadied enough, but Kluber never did, especially against the top of the order, which featured:

*Garcia going 4-for-5, including a couple of grounders off the foot of the pitcher.

*Moncada launching a double off the highest part of the Progressive Field’s tall left-center wall and a missile of a homer to right, along with two walks and zero strikeouts

*Abreu continued to own Kluber with a second-inning RBI single through the left side and a two-run double in the fourth that chased Cleveland’s ace from the game.

Rodon recovered from the 28-pitch first to make it six innings on 103 pitches. That’s not a terrible pitch count considering he recorded seven innings’ worth of outs. Yolmer Sanchez’s ugly defensive start continued when he dropped a popup in shallow right field. (Compounding matters, Rondon dropped Garcia’s recovery throw at second base for two errors on the play.)

The defense was just about the only ugly takeaway, at least if you ignore the two-run homer Nate Jones allowed to Hanley Ramirez in the ninth that casts a darker pall over his future. The Sox committed three errors, and Rondon’s sliding catch by the tarp in left-field foul territory was the only highlight that attempted to address the deficit.

Bullet points:

*Rodon threw an equal number of sliders and fastballs (49), along with five changeups. The slider got 14 swinging strikes.

*Moncada is batting .450/.522/.900 through his first five games, with an equal amount of walks and strikeouts (three).

*Palka is still hitless on the season, although he did have the bases-loaded walk to augment his 0-for-3 day.

*Sanchez might look worse overall, as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and his third error of the season.

Record: 2-3 | Box score | Highlights

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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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NateDPT12

It’s really too bad there wasn’t a premier RF or 3B available this off-season to take the place of Palka or Sanchez.  Oh well, I’m sure they’ll figure it out. ?‍♂️

GrinnellSteve

I’m ready for Madrigal and Robert to be called up.

Rodon looked great.

tommytwonines

I think we’re waiting until 2020 for those two. Maybe Madrigal at the end of the year, but they’ll bring up Mendick first.

Yolmer's gatorade

They should give Cordell some playing time, and send Palka down if he keeps not hitting.

knoxfire30

Gonna be tough for madrigal to go from high A to the bigs in 2019

Neat_on_the_rocks

It will be, and yet I do think a september call up is completely plausible. His particular tool kit figures to not really be tested in the mionors. Time will tell, but it could definitely be a moncada situation (albeit completely different tool kits) where he simply will not be tested enough in the minors and will have to develop mostly at the major league level.

ParisSox

How long you been sittin’ on that headline Jim?  

Let me guess. Since July 24, 2015?

45yearfan

This offseason, they brought 2 guys into the fold. Yonder hit .256 last year against right-handed pitching. And his OPS was the same as Matt Davidson’s. A power hitting lefty in the line-up… yeah right, what an upgrade! And Jon Jay only hit .268 last year. Both are in their 30’s and payroll went up $12 million. Now Palka won’t get to bat as much, unless of course he spends the whole year in RF. And we have some young good fielding outfielders who could use more AB’s to maybe learn to hit better. Also we’re on pace to win 65 now.

asinwreck

On the improbable day that the White Sox knocked Kluber around, Gordon Beckham hit a home run to beat the Yankees.

tommytwonines

Opposite field, too.

Maybe keeps him in the majors another week or two. His first hit this year (batting .167) – but I guess that’s your point.

gooch

It’s not just that Yolmer was 0-4 w/ 3 Ks; he looked completely lost with those swings. I get that his defense will turn, but I think this is harder to watch than Paola’s struggles. 

zerobs

Yolmer looks depressed, like he’s going to pour gasoline over himself.

Right Size Wrong Shape

That Yolmer, always trying to one up himself with the celebrations.

karkovice squad

They did a good job recognizing Rodon didn’t have his fastball in the first inning, leaning on the slider, and returning to the fastball as his feel for it came back.

They also did a good job working around the zone.

McCann (probably) deserves some credit (begrudgingly).

karkovice squad

True. His velocity was also erratic and down a tick from KC, 2 ticks from last season. And that’s after recovering some towards the middle and end of his stint.

Eagle Bones

I actually scrolled down here to ask about his velocity. Has there been any reports about whether this is intentional or not? I remember he tried to dial in back a bit a couple of years back to improve command and quickly scrapped that plan. It seems like he’s doing that now (his mechanics seem lower effort than in years past), though I also haven’t seen him reach back for that bigger fastball at all in specific situations. I haven’t been paying as close attention this year, so thought I might have missed something.

Eagle Bones

Yeah, I’ve been waiting for him to reach back and grab that 95 or 96 when he gets in a jam later in the game and I haven’t seen it. I actually just read an article last night (can’t remember who it was by, came across my twitter feed) where someone was positing that he should go the Corbin route and just throw sliders until his arm falls off (which is basically what he did yesterday). That seems like it’s probably his best route to success (especially if the velocity stays down), but I kind of suspect Cooper isn’t really a disciple of this reduced fastball usage idea.

karkovice squad

I don’t think he wants to work at this velocity all season. It’s both softer even than his already-reduced ’17 and ’18 averages and his peak tops out well below the 98mph max. He had the “luxury” of a delayed start to his major league seasons though.

3 years ago, the last time we saw him open the season in the majors, he also started soft and ramped up. He’s below even that but we already knew he doesn’t have that arm.

Smclean09

It’s hard to quantify but I also really thought he called a good game for Giolito. Really seemed like he stuck to the a gameplan against Soler, Duda, and Whit. Obviously the pitcher has to execute though.

karkovice squad

Giolito said they were in sync, he’d grip the ball with what he wanted to throw, look in for the sign and see McCann calling for that pitch.

I wasn’t impressed by the game he called on Opening Day but maybe that was the outlier or they figured it out in debrief.

Soxfan2

Kinda of random…I started to watch the end of the Athletics-Red sox game. Right when I turn it on, Marcus Semien makes a great play at shortstop. A few minutes later, JB Wendelken (Brett Lawrie trade) comes in the game and gets the final two outs of the inning, stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd. Wendelken came in throwing 96 with a wicked 2-seamer. All pieces of the Samardzija trade minus Rangel Ravelo have helped the athletics. Semien has cemented himself as an above average infielder, Phegley as a decent backup/platoon catcher and Bassitt/Montas have been decent when healthy.  The half measures the white sox took trying to contend sure have been beneficial to the other party involved. But hey at least we got Zack Burdi from Samardzija (Sigh). Semien would look awfully nice at second base right now. This post wasn’t meant to poop on the White Sox front office but it is interesting to look back at two trades. 

soxfanpa

I think Semien is the biggest whiff. Combined, Phegley, Wendelken, and Bassitt have been pretty much league average. Overall, including Ynoa, the value trade-off was pretty much a wash (sans Semien).

The Sox also didn’t send Montas to Oakland.

Neat_on_the_rocks

Much has been made about that Oakland trade but even now I dont mind it. Samardzija at the time 100% looked like a perfect fit for that rotation. Obviously the results did not bear that but at the time of the trade I loved it.

Looking at the guys Oakland got back, I dont know why people are still going back to it. Sure everyone has “contributed”, but not in any major way outside of Semien.

And even Semien, sure he put up 4.3 bWAR, but he did it on the back of a 255/.318/.388 slash, which means most of the value was defensive. defensive WAR is still murky waters to treaad through.

It’d be nice to have Semien but he is not a piece I am kicking myself over losing.

karkovice squad

Ironically, they’d have been better off just signing James Shields. At least they’d still have Semien and Tatis, Jr.

Neat_on_the_rocks

Thats definitely Fair! If you step back and look a bit more big picture, it is just one move in a long history of moves that point to the systemic issue of “half assing” it for basically the entire Sale run (and before that too).

I just think isolating that move individually, at the time it felt like giving up a bunch of meh “AAAA” type guys for a chance to have a top 3 rotation in baseball. Isolating the move in its own right and not looking at it in a larger context, it didnt seem too bad. And even in hindsight i’m not too bummed about it.

karkovice squad

That trade also highlights their systemic problems with teaching defense and developing players. Semien was “AAAA” because of that failure.

The move was also part of a cascade failure leading to both the Lawrie and Shields trades, plus the teardown.

GoGoSoxFan

The Sox have been “half-assing it” since the days of Ron Schueler as GM in the 90’s. The practice of signing second tier free agents began then.

melidoperez

This is really one of the least impressive teams I can remember everyone conceding a division to. Lindor will obviously help, but if you had no prior background on these teams and just watched these two games, would you think Cleveland had some big edge in personnel? Could totally see this being one of those years it’s a slog to the 86 wins it will require to take the division.

karkovice squad

And here come the Twins being all opportunistic. Marginal-winning their way to a Wild Card in ’17 and retooling their analytics department, manager, coaching staff, and entire approach to pitching across 2 seasons to steal a march on the vanishing Cleveland juggernaut.

lil jimmy

The Twins could past this team standing still.

Patrick Nolan

Berrios is the only other AL Central pitcher that would crack the Cleveland rotation.

karkovice squad

You say that now but Odorizzi might have a rebuttal if his first start was any indication.

Also, they seem to have a bullpen.

Patrick Nolan

Sure, Giolito (or Rodon? Hopefully?) might have one as well. In both cases — it’s just one start. That thought of mine may evolve.

karkovice squad

Let’s hope Giolito doesn’t follow Odorizzi’s second start example.

Patrick Nolan

Indeed. Looking forward to today.

lil jimmy

If Gio keeps the walks down. that’s the improvement he needs to continue.

lil jimmy

The rotation is rock solid. The bullpen and the eight guys behind the pitcher, not impressive.

knoxfire30

Indians ownership abandoned their fan base with that lineup they are running out there. It may only take 84-86 wins to have the division. I am stunned by how awful their lineup is.

yinkadoubledare

I have no idea why they didn’t sign an outfielder in the offseason, as their OF is awful and they have no bats imminently coming either (Mercado could be a good defensive player but doesn’t seem likely to hit right now). Or a utility guy who can actually play shortstop – Stamets was a terrible hitter in AAA, there wasn’t a chance in hell he was going to hit in the majors.

Excellent rotation, but it helps to actually score runs.

Neat_on_the_rocks

You know why.

$$$$$$$$

Eagle Bones

I’m trying not to get TOO excited about Moncada, but he’s making that difficult. One of them good problems I guess.

GoGoSoxFan

I’m afraid that in a couple of years the Sox will have about four of their prospects that have reached something close to their projections and we’ll see a situation like they had before the tear down; four quality players and a roster filled with trash and bargain bin free agents.