TCS Morning 10: It's nice to have a bullpen

1. We rag on the heavy handed emphasis on the importance of the bullpen that Hawk Harrelson trots out, especially in the light of the Royals 2014 success model, but it's hard to think of a game more clearly poisoned against the Red Sox by their own previous failures than Tuesday night's 5-4 come-from-behind Chicago victory.

The Red Sox used Jean Machi to close Monday night, and were considering Junichi Tazawa Tuesday night. And that was at the back end. In light of that perilous situation, fill-in manager Torey Luvullo tried to squeeze out seven innings of Wade Miley, a struggling starter the whole year, having a rare good outing. Or Luvullo could just be inexperienced and overwhelmed.  Either way, he let Miley hang himself at the very end of his outing, even as the tying and go-ahead runs piled on the basepaths in a one-run game in the seventh, and even as a lefty-mashing rookie who had beaten Miley up all night strolled to the plate. 

When you don't trust the help, you're helpless.

2. Thompson is now hitting perfectly reasonable .522/.560/.957 in all of 25 PAs after going 3-4 and finishing a homer short of the cycle in a reckless assault on Miley, and had two separate hits that tied or gave the Sox the lead. He's played so sparingly that even his platoon splits haven't taken shape yet, but Robin Ventura has been fairly disciplined about just using him against lefties to get him acclimated.

Miley could neither get his fastball in on Thompson nor sneak his breaking ball in the backdoor without giving him a good look, and combined with facing Vidal Nuno this weekend, Thompson is getting a collection of pitchers who can expose him to big league stuff without overwhelming him with velocity or deception.

Trayce has the whiff of potential that makes his success more interesting than that of Tyler Saladino, but without the natural avenue to playing time, due to continued efforts to get Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche going. But there's no denying this:

3. On the other side of the coin was Jose Quintana, once again disappointedly removed from his best work, working at a snail's pace and hanging breaking balls, dragging his way through six innings, three earned and getting the hell out for a powerful trio of Jake Petricka, non-awful Zach Duke and David Robertson.

With Carlos Rodon and Jeff Samardzija abandoning the practice, Quintana seems newly burdened with carrying the bat-only backup backstop (who had two more hits Tuesday night). While he deserves credit for not being as prone to trainwrecks as his colleagues, Quintana's pacing and sharpness havenoticeably suffered, and that moment where Soto abandoned covering home to go run after the ball Quintana was already retrieving, allowing for another run to score, inspires some guilt. How much are we going to make Quintana suffer through just because he can?

4. Since I ragged on him so viciously during his struggles, it must be acknowledged that Zach Duke struck out the side in the eighth, and looked impressive doing it, as his big sweeper slider fooled Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz in the way it looks like it should handle lefties. There's been no huge trend toward dominance in his outings, but he did have a similar outing vs. the Cubs where his stuff played up like this. These flashes, along with a surprisingly good 22% inherited runners scoring rate, is what must carry me through two more season of him looking awful.

5. David Roberston's greatness can't be appropriately expressed in his mediocre save percentage, or good, but not electrifying for a closer 2.76 ERA. The Sox never got to play any high-leverage games where his value would really play up anyway, so he's more of a fun attraction than anything else at this point

Nights like Tuesday where he has everything working, Robertson is a truly unhittable beast. His fastball moves around so much it's a good visual match with his loopy knuckle curve, and he's pounding the zone with both with the best control of his career-to-date. If the Sox want to keep him, he provides as much assurance that he's got prime years left as any reliever can.

6. Gordon Beckham got the start, which he still seems to do once or twice a week. He somehow went 2/4, nudging his OPS on the season back above .550. One has to imagine that when September rolls around he will be replaced by someone like Leury Garcia who at least has a prayer of being a useful player eventually, but then again, the White Sox often push loyalty to an extreme where it instead resembles charity.

7. The White Sox did score 5 runs and win the game, but they needed 15 hits, a walk, and a pretty horrendous misplay from Hanley Ramirez in left field to do so. True, 13 of those 15 hits were singles, and Jose Abreu grounded into a double play at an inopportune time - Abreu is entitled to do that from time to time. However, they also managed to have a baserunner thrown out at home, and two more thrown out at third base. That's pretty embarrassing and stupid, and as we cast around for reasons to justify Ventura's existence, abysmal baserunning is in some fashion a poor reflection on him. More outs were gifted to Boston when...

8. Alexei Ramirez had a game to forget, airmailing the throw that allowed Betts to score (although as said above, Soto didn't do anything to cover up this mistake), and also biffing a bunt allowing one of those runners to get thrown out at third. That Ventura is still calling for Alexei Ramirez to bunt in his fourth year as his manager is the type of stubborn refusal to learn that would necessitate a parent-teacher conference if he were in grade school. That's without even getting to the questionable value of the bunt even if it had been properly executed.

9. Carlos Sanchez had another 2/4 game, continuing to dig himself out of the truly spectacular hole he dug himself in to start the season. If he can muster a .650-.700 OPS to pair with his plus glove at 2B he may shorten the list of positions that can be described as "so bad it should negatively impact season ticket numbers." 

10. With the win over Boston, and with Detroit's 5th loss in a row, the White Sox have moved up to the 12th draft pick if the season ended today. It is fundamentally wrong to root for your favorite team to lose, but as Ethan pointed out on Twitter last night, having a protected Top 10 draft pick, and (probably) the compensation pick for Jeff Samardzija would be pretty cool. It would likely mean having three picks in the top 50 if they don't sign a free agent with draft pick compensation, and still having two top 40 picks if they do.

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