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  • Series Preview: No One Team Should Lack All That Power


    Matt Braun

    You tired of playing the Yankees? Me too, luckily the Twins can move on physically and emotionally and take on the Chicago White Sox, doesn’t that sound so much better? Now, I actually already previewed this series almost a month ago so I’ll use that as a reference for much of the same material in order to highlight what has changed recently but for the most part, this team still is beatable.

    Image courtesy of © Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

    Brief Overview:

    I was never particularly high on the White Sox coming into the season or even when they were somewhat competent earlier in the season. This is a not good team that is slightly better than the dumpster fire Tigers and the hand-me-down Royals that excels at not being notable in many different ways. Earlier when I wrote about them they were at four games below .500 and they are now currently at 8 games below .500 coming into Wednesday’s action with a pythag W/L of 40-58 that says “you wish this was the worst”.

    What They Do Well:

    The White Sox still have defied the BABIP odds as their .319 mark is the second highest in baseball, just behind the yearly BABIP champs, the Rockies. Amazingly, this isn’t much of a drop from the .320 mark they had when I first wrote about them. Have they figured out the deep, dark secrets of BABIP? Probably not, but they will continue to ride the wave until otherwise. Maybe the Twins will be the shark that finally jumps that wave and goes all “Soul Surfer” on them but without the rehab or inspirational story.

    What helps them is that they have the third lowest fly ball % in baseball at 32.6% (the Twins are the 2nd highest at 39.6%) and in return they have the 2nd highest ground ball % at 47.3%. Fly balls carry the lowest BABIP of any batted ball type so by them mitigating their all balls, they have the capacity to hold a higher BABIP. This is not smart, however, as part of the reason why fly balls hold a low BABIP is because they tend to go over the wall for home runs and homers don’t count in BABIP but certainly do count in the box score.

    What They Do Not Do Well:

    Hit well! As a continuation of my last point, I’ll explain why the White Sox are doing it wrong. Their “keep it on the ground” method has lead to the third-lowest isolated power in baseball at .152 (Matt Lawton come on down) and a wRC+ of just 90. Of course I assume everyone here is aware of the “fly-ball revolution” or why hitting the ball in the air is advantageous so I’ll let you join in on making fun of a team still in the past. No one has ever hit a homer on a ground ball, true story. They also have the second-lowest BB% in baseball, ouch.

    Their starting rotation has been solidly below average as they are 21st in baseball by fWAR but it even worse by WPA as they are 24th in that stat. If you take away Lucas Giolito’s contributions then they would be the second-worst team by starting pitching WPA. Of course, you can’t actually do that but it does speak to how poor their starting pitching has been outside of Giolito.

    Individuals Of Note:

    Last time I highlighted Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, James McCann, and Lucas Giolito. All have still been great so I want to get a little creative here in who I highlight.

    A few weeks before this series the White Sox called up RHP Dylan Cease, a top pitching prospect who they received in the José Quintana trade a few years back. He has only thrown 16 innings so far and the strikeouts have been there so far (9.56 K/9) but so have the walks (5.06 BB/9). Top arms with all stuff and no command is a story as old as time and the White Sox have no need for winning games so they will allow him to work out the kinks in the majors unless he appears to be hilariously over matched. It looks like he’ll start on Friday.

    Beyond being cursed with an unfortunate name, Aaron Bummer also is a middle reliever on the White Sox, meaning that the disappearance of a man from Fargo might be more newsworthy than whatever Bummer does. This is unfair as Bummer has added two ticks to his fastball velocity this year and is now throwing 95.4 on average from the left side. His K% has gone up a few tenths of a percentage point and his GB% is a hilarious 68.5% which is only topped by Zack Britton among pitchers with at least 30 innings this year. To put it simply, you will either strike out or ground out against Bummer.

    Recent History:

    The Twins lost a three-game series 2-1 starting on June 28th at Chicago earlier this year but previously swept them at home in late May. Do the complicated math and that leaves you at 4-2 in favor of the Twins so far this year.

    Recent Trajectories:

    The Twins are 7-7 over their last five series while the White Sox are 4-10 over their last 5 series heading into Wednesday.

    Pitching Matchups:

    Thursday: Berríos vs Giolito

    Friday: Pineda vs Cease

    Saturday: Pérez vs Nova

    Sunday: Gibson vs Covey

    Ending Thoughts:

    The Twins haven’t played the most inspiring games recently but they played some really tough games against a good Oakland squad and an evil Yankees team. While the W/L remains a cold judge, it sure feels like they are on the verge of getting back in shape. A long series against a White Sox team that even Foreigner would describe as “Cold As Ice” could be what they need as they inch towards the trade deadline. So far I am a perfect five-for-five in my series predictions and I’m feeling a nice 3-1 series in favor of the Twins.

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    Berríos vs Giolito could be a matchup that we see several times the next few years.

     

    Hopefully a good one with a faster pace tonight.

     

    Apparently, the Cubs know how to get to Giolito, so maybe the Twins should watch those archives before the game.

     

    Bomba #200 should come in this series.  Who will hit it?  I'm calling Sano, since he also hit #100.

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    We need to hit them hard and early, help the Sox feel badly about their prospects.  Time for the bats to stay hot. It would be nice if we could refill the bullpen quickly, too.

     

    Has any team ever designated this many relievers in this short a time frame before?  It's like a mini-contraction.  Or a fire(man) sale.

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    My wish: Take some kind of a lead into August. Even if we're up by 0.5 games on Cleveland, just take a lead into August. The schedule clears up quite a bit at the back end of the schedule, and that starts tonight. Take care of business against Chicago and Miami and we should be looking good for the stretch. 

     

    That, and please get some pitching soon. 

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    I'm willing to refrain from overreacted to the Yankees series, so long as this team takes care of business against the Sox.

    Every team has ups and downs, and the team earned the big cushion they had early. But now that cushion is gone, and they have some bad teams on the schedule. Anything less than 3 of 4 will be a pretty big failure, IMO.

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