Two games in, the White Sox look like they have quite the top of a rotation, the Royals have stumbled out of the gate for the start of another promise-filled season and every Sox run has been scored via the home run.
Yup, everything looks pretty close to how we left it, including the part where the White Sox hitting a boatload of home run raises fan anxiety about the stability of their offense.
If we assume that arguments like “home runs are good,”hitters need to stick with what they do well,” “U.S. Cellular Field is a place where you’re either hitting home runs or not hitting the ball that hard,” have been aired out before and would be dismissed if raised again, then we could simply turn around and blame this outbreak on the Royals.
In the first two games, the Royals served out Ervin Santana and James Shields–two pitchers with good strikeout-to-walk ratios who struggle to keep the ball in the yard. For Santana, we might change “good” to “decent” and “struggle to” to “can never,” but the point is the same–when these guys get beat, it’s with the home run. The White Sox have proceeded to beat them with home runs.
Santana struck out eight and only walked one in six innings, and would have been described as dominant if the Sox didn’t punish his mistakes. About those mistakes, I think Santana’s issue is location
Now, I’m just humble young man with modest expectations, but I would hope that with the designated hitter at the plate–be it a 300-pound behemoth or Mark Kostay in the flesh–this 89 mph fastball thrown over the intersection of Madison & State would meet a punishment far more severe than a solidly slapped single to the opposite field. The adult in charge of this baseball’s care has erred greatly, and if we’re going to have order in this society, this baseball must pay for this error with its life while everyone watches.
And like any civilized society, a certain amount of additional moral outrage is set aside for repeat offenders.
I was too flabbergasted to grab a second Gameday screenshot of this 89 mph fastball to Tyler Flowers to lead off the next inning, but there’s enough here to conclude that Ervin Santana did not come away from the brutality of the previous inning with a lesson learned or an issue corrected.
In some sense, they were separate errors. For Dunn, Royals catcher Salvador Perez wanted the ball in, and for Flowers he set up outside, only for Santana to interpret each setup as indication Perez never wanted to see this baseball again.
Dunn is supposed to be trotting out a new, aggressive approach this year, but I’m skeptical there was ever a version of Adam Dunn who saw a 89 mph meatball float through his kitchen and though “If I wait, maybe I’ll see something I can really drive.” Flowers jumping all over the same pitch an inning later strengthens those feelings.
Oh, right, this one. Santana runs a 90 mph fastball nearly letter-high on the inner-portion and Dayan just turns on it and pops it over the short fence in left. This at-bat involved Dayan Viciedo. You just kind of shrug your shoulders.
Lesson to learn from Jake: getting guys out with 91mph fastball. Changeeye level, hit your spots. Then mph matters very little. #Whitesox
— Laurence Holmes (@LaurenceWHolmes) April 3, 2013
This tweet is informative and deeply complimentary of Peavy in the midst of his quality start Wednesday, yet I still feel it sells what Jake does just a little bit short. Such is the nature of Twitter, of course.
Of course, what Holmes is saying is the effectiveness of Peavy’s fastball can’t be told simply with the radar reading. He’s hitting spots and changing eye levels, but the way he’s doing it is special. One of my favorite things to do after a crisp Peavy start is call up his Pitch f/x breakdown on BrooksBaseball and look at all the ways he manipulates his hard stuff.
|Pitch Type||Avg Speed||Max Speed||Avg H-Break||Avg V-Break||Count||Strikes / %||Whiffs / %||SNIPs / %||Linear Weights|
|FF (FourSeam Fastball)||88.85||91.5||-5.60||8.82||15||11 / 73.33%||0 / 0.00%||8 / 66.67%||-0.0300|
|CH (Changeup)||83.12||85.4||-7.09||3.18||6||5 / 83.33%||1 / 16.67%||4 / 80.00%||-0.5527|
|SL (Slider)||83.15||85.9||0.96||3.44||6||5 / 83.33%||0 / 0.00%||4 / 80.00%||-0.2123|
|CU (Curveball)||79.14||81.3||2.45||-2.83||10||6 / 60.00%||0 / 0.00%||4 / 50.00%||0.8371|
|FC (Cutter)||86.34||87.7||-0.65||6.90||19||14 / 73.68%||2 / 10.53%||10 / 66.67%||0.1070|
|FT (TwoSeam Fastball)||90.35||92.9||-9.62||9.35||51||35 / 68.63%||8 / 15.69%||29 / 64.44%||-2.0638|
|Pitch classifications provided by the Gameday Algorithm.
SNIPs are “Strikes Not In Play” and do not include any balls in play.
That’s a four-seamer, a two-seamer that was far and away his most dominant pitch, a cutter and a changeup he throws off of it. Four pitches before we even start talking about snapping off breaking balls. A lot of nights, Pitch f/x will read some of his offerings as sinkers, too. Average velocity is a mighty fine starting point for someone who manipulates their heat as much as Peavy does.
On the defense
It was terrible. The hell was going on out there?
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan