Series Preview - Red Sox (19-22) @ White Sox (21-22)
Me? Looking forward to a Red Sox series?? In this economy?????
Tuesday, May 24th 8:10 PM - Nick Pivetta (2-4 4.22 ERA) vs Dylan Cease (4-1 3.09 ERA)
Wednesday, May 25th 8:10 PM - Rich Hill (1-1 3.90 ERA) vs Lucas Giolito (2-1 2.84 ERA)
Monday May 26th 8:10 PM - Michael Wacha (3-0 1.76 ERA) vs TBD
Alright folks, we are coming off a 4-game sweep. We have taken three series in a row. The bats are rolling, the starters are continuing to be VERY good, and the bullpen also comes to the games. David Ortiz is telling everyone that possesses at least one working ear that this Red Sox team will make the playoffs, and simultaneously roasting ownership for not extending Xander Bogaerts which will always be appreciated on this website. The Celtics pulverized the Heat and are six games away from the 'chip. Mac Jones looks like a male model. Essentially everything is coming up Boston.
All that being said, last time we saw the other Sox we got swept in embarrassing fashion, only picking up 5 runs over 3 games. We saw Velasquez, Cease, and Keuchel and made all three of them look like fucking Cy Young candidates. But that was then, this is now.
Today, we will see Dylan Cease again and last time we saw him, he went 5 innings, allowing 1 ER on 4 hits, with 3 walks and 8 Ks. He was fastball heavy, throwing it 47% of the time with a max of 98 and a min of 94.7 MPH. He followed it up with his slider 31% of the time and knuckle curve 17% of the time. Devers went 2-4 with our only RBI, and Bogaerts and Martinez both had a knock off of him. One other thing I would like to make note of, Franchy Cordero hit one of the hardest balls of the season off Cease (second hardest hit ball to be exact), with a 112.4 EV and 39 degree LA. The xBA on that was .830, but it was a flyout in this one. Throughout his career, this lineup has a .283 AVG off of him. Xander and Raffy are .500 off of him, and Kiké is .429. Although those numbers are promising, we have a .329 SLG off of Cease, only having 2 XBHs in the form of doubles. With that being said, the xSLG from Devers is .941 and .680 from Franchy based on their Exit Velocities and Launch Angles, so either of them are a candidate to go yard today. Beyond facing the Red Sox, he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. Here are his percentile rankings (via Statcast):
See all that Red? 98th percentile K%, 97th xBA, 95th Fastball Spin Rate and xERA? Yeeeaaahhhhh that's a problem. He is very fucking good at getting guys to swing the bat and not hit the ball, one of those skills that GMs will often look for in pitchers! I don't know why pitchers don't do that all the time. He has the most strikeouts in the league, which is also not ideal for a pitcher you are facing. If he gets ahead in counts, our offense will be in some serious trouble tonight. Let's hope the bottom of our lineup can be selective, maybe draw some walks, and be in position for when our core hitters can get ahold of one.
The White Sox lineup will see Pivetta again, who went head to head with Cease already this season. That game was the beginning of an incredible streak from Pivetta. In April, he had an 8.72 ERA over 16.1 IP. In May, he is 1.71 with 1... again, ONE... walk over 26.1 IP (shoutout TC for the stats there). In that start he went 6 innings allowing 5 hits, no earned runs, and striking out 8. He has been that way for basically his entire career against this White Sox lineup, pretty much dominating them from front to back. 15 hits on 60 ABs, 18 Ks and 4 walks. only 3 doubles allowed, no triples or home runs. The expected numbers are right in line with that, so his outings have not been flukes. It is shaping up like we will need another strong performance with Pivetta, because Cease will show up again tonight. I like the under here in a big time pitchers duel.
For the rest of the matchups, it will be pitchers we didn't see in the first series versus pitchers they didn't see in the first series. Wednesday will feature their ace Lucas Giolito going up against Rich Hill. Giolito has been outstanding this season, carrying a 2.84 ERA, 44 Ks and a 1.23 WHIP. He is a true strikeout pitcher, using one of the best changeups in baseball today. His K% is in the 95th percentile. He will throw his fastball about half the time, with the changeup coming a quarter of the time, then mixing in the slider and curveball to keep the batter on their toes. His fastball sits at 93, with the changeup coming all the way back down to 82. While he had been having a tremendous year, he has struggled against this Red Sox lineup. 13 hits on 40 ABs, with 3 of those being home runs. JD, Kiké, and JBJ each have a home run, and aside from Vazquez, Devers, and Verdugo, everyone has an xBA over .300 (keeping in mind the smaller sample sizes for everyone but JD, who is 5 for 10).
The White Sox will get Rich Hill. Hill has been all or nothing against the White Sox. Only 9 hits allowed on 41 ABs, but 66% of those are XBHs, with 2 doubles and 4 home runs. AJ Pollock has been a big reason for those lopsided numbers, 4 hits on 21 ABs, but 3 home runs. Josh Harrison has the other, sitting at 3 for 9. But the numbers for the rest of the team are really too small to tell. What I am more interested in is how Hill bounces back from Thursday's DOGSHIT performance in which he must have been tipping his pitches by straight up telling the Mariners what he was going to throw. But, like they tell me in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and Support Groups Anonymous, the first step to overcoming a problem is recognizing you have a problem. I'm going to assume the Sox lineup shows up again, and we see Tanner Houck come in probably around the 5th to eat a couple of innings and get to our late-game relievers.
Lastly, we have Wacha going again. His last outing being his first back from the IL, and him being good but not the best Wacha we have seen all season, this is the start that I am most interested in for this series. If he can continue to pitch the way he did over the first month, we are looking like we can legitimately make a move in the division and start climbing out of the hole we dug ourselves into. If he starts to look like even an average pitcher, that will be a MUCH taller task. So, how does he match up here? I have no fucking idea what to expect. It's pretty average. 80 ABs, 23 hits, 4 of them being doubles, 3 being home runs. 13 Ks and 7 walks. Again, pretty damn average. AJ Pollock is 5 for 11 with 2 doubles and a home run, Yasmani Grandal is 5 for 17 with a home run, Yoan Moncada is 3 for 6 with a home run. He was actually supposed to pitch against the White Sox last time, but was scratched. Ill leave you with what I said about him then (out of a combination of not knowing what else to say, feeling like that analysis went to waste, and it being 2:20 in the afternoon and I have done literally no work for my actual job so far today):
Look at this chart:
Wacha has 5 pitches that he can reliably use to throw strikes and get batters out. In other words, he trusts his shit. I think what is most notable here is the convergence of his sinker and cutter. Mix that with the increased usage of his best pitch, his changeup, and decreasing how much he throws his fastball, and you get the new and improved Michael Wacha. These pitches will all look very similar coming out of the hand, but each has different action as it approaches the batter. Hitters don't know where the fuck the ball is going even after they pick it up halfway to the plate, which has resulted in more weak contact (5.7% barreled balls), and actually less strikeouts (likely due to less fastballs being thrown).
Under Game 1
Over Game 2
Sox Game 3