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The White Sox
2005-08-08 16:07
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Chicago White Sox

2005 Record: 72-38 (.655)
2005 Pythagorean Record: 66-44 (.600)

Manager: Ozzie Guillen
General Manager: Kenny Williams

Ballpark (2004 park factors): U.S. Cellular Field

Who's replaced whom?

Scott Podsednik replaced Carlos Lee
Jermaine Dye replaced John Valentin
Tadahito Iguchi replaced Willie Harris (minors)
Carl Everett replaced Magglio Ordonez
A.J. Pierzynski replaced Ben Davis (minors) and Miguel Olivo
Geoff Blum replaced Ross Gload (minors)
Orlando Hernandez replaced Scott Schoeneweis
Dustin Hermanson replaced Billy Koch and a chunk of Jon Adkins
Luis Vizcaino replaced Mike Jackson
Bobby Jenks replaced Shingo Takatsu (released)

Current Roster:

1B – Paul Konerko
2B – Tadahito Iguchi
SS – Juan Uribe
3B – Joe Crede
C – A.J. Pierzynski
RF – Jermaine Dye
CF – Aaron Rowand
LF – Scott Podsednik
DH – Carl Everett

Bench:

S – Geoff Blum (IF)
L – Timo Perez (OF)
R – Pablo Ozuna (IF)
R – Chris Widger (C)

Rotation:

L – Mark Buehrle
R – Jon Garland
R – Orlando Hernandez
R – Jose Contreras
R – Freddy Garcia

Bullpen:

R – Dustin Hermanson
L – Neal Cotts
R – Cliff Politte
L – Damaso Marte
R – Luis Vizcaino
R – Bobby Jenks
R – Jon Adkins

DL: R – Frank Thomas (DH)

Typical Line-up

L – Scott Podsednik (LF)
R – Tadahito Iguchi (2B)
S – Carl Everett (DH)
R – Paul Konerko (1B)
L – A.J. Pierzynski (C)
R – Jermaine Dye (RF)
R – Aaron Rowand (CF)
R – Joe Crede (3B)
R – Juan Uribe (SS)

The White Sox remain the one American League team the Yankees have yet to face this year and, in away, that might be to the Bombers' benefit. While the Yankees' rotation is in a shambles, the team as a whole has been playing its best baseball since the end of June, thanks in large part to the resurrection of Jason Giambi, the benching of Tony Womack (the latter of which has seen a frightening reversal in the past couple of weeks), and the surprising performance of replacement starters Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon and, compared to the spot starters who preceded him, Al Leiter.

Conversely, the White Sox have slowed ever so slightly from the torrid pace they set through the season's first three months. At the end of June, the White Sox boasted a 53-24 record (.688). Since then, they've played .594 ball (19-13), still outstanding, but more within the realm of the conquerable, and more in line with the team's expected level of play according to their Pythagorean winning percentage (and even .600).

The White Sox have won just four of ten series since traveling to Oakland on July 1, splitting one (Red Sox), and dropping five others, including one each to the Royals and Tigers and losing 5 of 6 to those surging A's. What has kept their record so sparkling is that the with the exception of a just-completed 2-1 series win at home against the Mariners, the White Sox have swept the four series they've won over that period, including four-game sets against the Indians and Orioles.

Coming into tonight's game, the Chisox are a mere 4-3 in August against the M's and Blue Jays (to the Yankees 3-3 against the Indians and Jays). What's more, the Yankees will miss the southsiders' two best pitchers, ace Mark Buehrle and major league wins leader Jon Garland.

Make no mistake about it, the reason the White Sox have the best record in baseball, and have throughout the season, is pitching. Their pitching staff's 3.62 ERA is tops in the American League, while their bullpen has contributed a sparkling 3.06 ERA, which includes the 28 2/3 innings of 5.97 ERA they received from the since-released Shingo Takatsu (look for him to join the waver-wire reunion in Columbus). Absent Takatsu, the worst ERA among the seven men in the Sox pen is Luis Vizcaino's 3.81.

If the bullpen has a fault, it's the base on balls. Once-dominant set-up man and failed closer (and ill-considered Enrique Wilson trade bait) Damaso Marte and rookie fireballer Bobby Jenks have combined to walk 32 men in 47 1/3 innings. Vizcaino and lefty Neal Cotts have combined to walk another 43 in 97 1/3 (4.67 BB/9 for those four men combined). Cotts, however, has corrected for his free passes by allowing just 27 hits in 45 1/3 innings, yielding a 1.04 WHIP that helps explain his tidy 2.18 ERA. Cotts' performance, along with more impressive numbers from Cliff Politte (1.88 ERA, 0.85 WHP) and closer Dustin Hermanson (1.64 ERA, 1.11 ERA), has given the White Sox an unexpectedly dominant Big Three, that helps to explain the degree to which the Sox have exceeded their Pythagorean expectations thus far (that explanation, by the way, can be found in my contribution to the upcoming Baseball Prospectus book, Mind Game, about those other Sox).

When we Toasters made our preseason predictions back in March, Scott Long (a White Sox fan) and myself were the only two who thought the Sox would finish as high as second, both of us pointing to the starting rotation as a primary reason. The one-two punch of Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garcia, backed up by the ever-wily El Duque and the emerging Jon Garland, with Jose Contreras's stuff and Brandon McCarthy's future vying for the fifth spot was just too formidable in a league bereft of impressive starting rotations for either Scott or myself to list the Sox below their 2004 finish.

Now, I don't know about Mr. Long, but I did not expect Garland to go 16-5 with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP through early August. Nor did I fully expect Mark Buehrle to turn in what just might turn out to be his finest season (13-4, 2.79 ERA, 1.13 WHIP).

Buehrle, Garland, and Freddy Garcia, (26, 25 and 28 years old respectively), give the White Sox a fantastic triumvirate of young pitchers that should be entered into the conversation with those of the Cubs (Prior-24, Zambrano-24, Wood-28) and A's (Zito-27, Harden-23, Haren-24).

Backing them up are the two departed Cuban Yankee hurlers, Hernandez and Contreras, who are up to their usual tricks. Contreras (6-6, 4.41 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) has improved in Chicago, but still fails to dominate to the degree that his stuff would suggest he can, making up for an excellent opponent's batting average by walking 4.13 men per nine innings. El Duque, meanwhile, has spent his requisite time on the disabled list, making just 15 starts thus far, averaging fewer than six innings per start, but outfoxing his ugly 1.49 WHIP to post a tolerable 4.69 ERA and an 8-4 record.

The Yankees will see those two men in the next two nights, followed by Garcia. Tonight El Duque will pull his Satchel Page routine against Mike Mussina, who has looked in desperate need of same of late. Expect the bullpens to play a large part in this one.

Comments
2005-08-08 16:19:47
1.   yankz
Wow, i really wish we had a center fielder like Rowand. It should be 1-0 Yanks with nobody out.
2005-08-08 16:22:44
2.   Cliff Corcoran
I forgot to mention that the White Sox have the second best Defensive Efficiency in baseball (to the A's), which of course helps all that pitching look so good.
2005-08-08 16:23:27
3.   Cliff Corcoran
Catch that, Rowand!
2005-08-08 16:52:05
4.   randym77
3-0 Yanks. Doesn't suck!
2005-08-08 17:37:07
5.   yankz
More fifth inning trouble for Moose? Come on, get through it...
2005-08-08 17:42:43
6.   tocho
This was bound to happen, the Yanks have really squandered their opportunities vs. Duque. We had to build a larger lead. One more out Moose...
2005-08-08 17:44:36
7.   Cliff Corcoran
The Yanks also blew a lot of opportunites against the Blue Jays, fortunately it didn't effect the outcome of those games.
2005-08-08 17:46:12
8.   Shaun P
yankz, I was just thinking the same thing. Moose looked soooo good in the first few innings, and now he's looking very shaky . . . Hold the lead and hope they call it, looks like the rain is falling pretty hard.

Alex, you're right on about El Duque - I miss watching him pitch for us, and seeing him strike out A-Rod on that nasty breaking ball reminded me of many happy times of long ago. Sigh - miss you, Duque, but I'm glad you're losing.

2005-08-08 17:56:10
9.   yankz
I love baseball- how many of us have actually seen a throw hit a batter who's alreayd out?
2005-08-08 17:59:04
10.   tocho
This inning is crucial for Moose.
2005-08-08 18:04:43
11.   Nick from Washington Heights
yankz, the last time I saw it was that scary play last year against the Angels. Jorge's head got hit by a sidearm throw from the 2nd baseman who was trying to turn two.
2005-08-08 18:06:26
12.   Nick from Washington Heights
but come to think of it, that's not entirely the same thing as a BATTER getting hit by a ball. Oops!
2005-08-08 18:07:00
13.   yankz
yikes- thankfully this one barely touched a-rod.
2005-08-08 18:12:56
14.   tocho
Karsay just served up a 3-run homer to the BoSox... even when he's with another team he hurts us...
2005-08-08 19:07:00
15.   yankz
Best team of the year, meet the best closer ever.

If i'm not mistaken, Mo's WHIP (Kay and Singleton, btw, dont know what WHIP stands for) is <0.75. I think the main argument against him for Cy Young is that he's pitched so few innings. Regardless, can anyone say enough about the year he's had? Wow.

2005-08-08 19:17:25
16.   Shaun P
I'm glad we got the win, and Sturtze didn't throw too many pitches, but I think I would have gone with F-Rod in the 7th. Hopefully Chacon will throw 6+ tomorrow and then perhaps we'll see Felix?
2005-08-08 20:02:51
17.   Cliff Corcoran
Shaun, with a one run lead, that's when you use the top guys.
2005-08-08 20:05:42
18.   BklynBomber
The 'Against All Odds' '05 Bombers are really starting to take shape. You know that when you look at the schedule, see Chacon and Small up next and think "Hey, we got a shot here!"

Tonight's 3-2 win was better than a blowout for the obvious reasons, but the big plus is the 10 games over .500 mark. It sounds weak on the surface, but this could be the thing we need to get a serious roll going. No more lost or tied series, and more than a few series sweeps in the process.

Most clubs would have already called it a year given what the Yanks have already went through. This season is indeed a strange trip, but something could be happening here. I have a sincere feeling that the best is yet to come.

2005-08-08 21:17:35
19.   Scott Long
Nice breakdown, Cliff. No, I wouldn't have thought Garland would have this type of year, but I did speak to how BP's PECOTAs for the White Sox starting pitching were way off from what would occur.

Tonight's game was very typical of the Sox, as they play close games, which if they have the better starting pitching match-up, they generally win. Since you were looking at the 4th or 5th best starter for the Sox, versus arguably the best Yankee starter, this was a must-win for the Yanks. As Yankee fans are well-aware of, who the f--- knows what Contreas will bring to the park tomorrow.

2005-08-08 21:37:29
20.   Rich
Great game by Moose, and the overused pen: Sturtze, The Daily Gordon, and Mo came through.

I just wish that El Duque was still a Yankee.

2005-08-08 21:46:35
21.   brockdc
Cliff,

True, but I'm wondering if Felix is actually a more effective pitcher than Sturtze at this point.

Man, it's fun to watch a guy so pumped up with emotion on the mound (uh, that would be Duque not Mussina).

2005-08-08 22:43:29
22.   Cliff Corcoran
Well, tonight, Sturtze got three outs on eight pitches, seven of them strikes. Forgive me for pulling a Torre here, but I'm still willing to trust (cough) Sturtze over Rodriguez with a one-run lead. That said, Felix should indeed get more action in games the Yankees lead by three or more runs.
2005-08-08 23:04:19
23.   Rich
What?

http://www.nypost.com/sports/yankees/51085.htm

[...]

One reason Mussina needed to go six was that Tanyon Sturtze has struggled mightily of late. Sturtze, who allowed a hit and two walks in one-third of an inning Sunday in Toronto, worked with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre before the game.

Torre said Sturtze improved his rhythm, and the reliever said he regained his arm slot and stopped running pitches back over the plate. He pitched a scoreless seventh, and Tom Gordon and Rivera did their endgame things to perfection by retiring the final six hitters.

"Today was the way we drew it up," Mussina said.

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