We all got shitty news this morning with the Marlins corona outbreak and it fucking sucks. No idea if we're going to have more baseball or not, but we're going to talk about the White Sox weekend as if it's business as normal and try to will this season to completion. Right at the start of their contention window too, go fucking figure. I HATE this pandemic. It does suck ass, we all know that, but there are a few storylines from the Sox 3 game set this weekend I want to touch on. I'll be doing so in a completely original "good/bad/ugly" blog to hammer those talking points home.
The offense is legit and will be one of the best in baseball throughout this sprint. Luis Robert has thus far proven me wrong and is unzipping his pants and PISSING on baseballs:
Through his first 3 games, Robert has 4 hits in 12 plate appearances, with a double and a dinger, but my favorite part of him thus far has been his approach. He isn't hell bent on turning on pitches like I thought he would be; instead he's flashing the ability to go the other way with pitches down/out and has thus far used all fields and laid off breaking pitches down/off the plate. I thought he would struggle with this and that he'd be fed a steady diet of sliders off the plate, but he's forcing pitchers to work over the zone and he's destroying them when he does.
I hope I continue to be wrong and if I am, he'll run away with the ROY of the year award and perhaps be in MVP discussion. He's going to be a legit superstar if he isn't already. Dude's a freak of nature.
Moncada has also dominated, in spite of not being in the lineup yesterday:
Eloy did Eloy things with a bunch of missiles all over the field, Encarnacion shit on a baseball, and even Leury got in on the action with a couple of dingers.
Like I said, this White Sox offense can NOT be fucked with. Miss over the plate, you'll get shit on. Miss off, they'll take the pitch and force you to creep back towards the middle. It's a great recipe for success and barring injury or a fucking covid outbreak, this offense will carry the team to a lot of wins.
Command was not there with any of his pitches, but he's fine. He has talked on RLR and in other videos about how he was more of a 2 pitch pitcher last year because he didn't need to pair his fastball/changeup with any other pitches. That's how he operated on Friday and he never developed a feel for his change or breaking pitches, turning him into a 1 pitch pitcher. Can't do that against the Twins, they'll tee off on anyone like that.
He knows it, I know it, you know it, we all know it. He'll get back to the drawing board and in his next start against Cleveland, will be fine. Anyone with a brain knows he'll be fine. His fastball velocity was right where he needs it to be, his command wasn't. That will change in his next start and he'll pair his fastball with that wipe out change and slider/curve. Don't be an idiot and say "oh fuck we have 2018 Gio back" because that's not the case. It was one bad start. Berrios got shit on too and Twins fans aren't freaking out about him.
Let's move to the defense though - it was bad. Robert is a ++ defensive CF but Eloy just struggles and struggles defensively. ICYMI, he got hurt running into the wall AGAIN yesterday:
And I say again because it happened once last year and cost him 4 weeks or whatever it was. This wasn't as bad, but it's going to keep happening unless he learns how to play OF and learns fast. It's simple - sprint to a spot, find the ball, catch the ball. Don't drift with the ball because you're running and looking behind you. Do that and you'll run into big ass walls and get hurt. He's the best pure hitter in the lineup, can't have him missing extended time because of poor OF play.
That and TA7 has to pick it up defensively. He has the ability to do so, but the routine plays are still his bugaboo it seems. He made one error already and got lucky he didn't make his 2nd in 3 games as he got an error overturned by replay. His double play partner Leury Garcia hasn't been good defensively either. Most teams are hell bent on being strong up the middle; 50% of the Sox "up the middle" defensive positions have been subpar thus far. Please please please clean that up. A lot of the season can hinge on that.
Reynaldo Lopez might be shelved for a while, and even if he isn't, is on thin ice I assume. He's struggled for over a year now, and has Dane Dunning and others breathing down his neck looking to take his spot in the rotation. The issue with that is is that the Sox SP depth is not that great. There isn't room for poor performance, and even less room for injuries. We expect Gio and Keuchel to win the Sox games. The rest of the rotation just needs to keep the team in the game so the offense can slug its way to W's. Add Rodon to Gio/Keuchel category too, with Cease hopefully taking a big step as well.
Now let's talk about Ricky - I can't stand his lineup construction and think he's too hellbent on playing matchups. Get your best hitters as many at bats as possible. Delmonico had a few good at bats this weekend, but he shouldn't ever be in the 2 hole. Never ever ever. That should be Moncada 100% of the time he's in the lineup, and if he's not, move Eloy or even Robert there.
That… and don't feed me the "we wanted to rest Yoan's arm" bullshit for the 3rd game of the season. Apparently they made the decision TEN DAYS ago that he was going to sit in game 3 which is ridiculous to me. He's the best player on the team, he needs to be in the lineup as much as possible. If he were actually fatigued or sore, then sit him. But for all we know, he was fine yesterday. There's no reason at all to plan for his absence in the lineup 10 days in advance. Play it by ear. He needs to be in the lineup as much as he possibly can.
Now, I have a feeling that this wasn't rest related and it was something more than that. I think Moncada might have been being an idiot and partying in the middle of the pandemic and he got his ass benched because of it. If that's the case, then I'm fully on Renteria's side. This is complete and total speculation and should not be taken as gospel, but it wouldn't surprise me at all at the same time. Renteria had a comment that the team is "self policing" which made my ears perk up.
All things considered, there was a lot to like and a lot to hate this weekend. The pitching needs to step up big time and I do think it will. The Twins have the best lineup in baseball and were going to score runs. Getting touched for 10+ runs in 2 different games can't happen though, and I do think the Sox will make the necessary adjustments heading into their series with Cleveland tonight. Nevertheless, this is a fun team and it will be right there in the hunt for an AL Central title come the end of September.
Let's fucking go. Win this series vs. Cleveland and then pound on the sisters of the poor in KC and Detroit and we're right where owe want to be.