1. A hanging curveball left up to Mike Moustakas in the sixth kept Jose Quintana from setting a new career-best mark for season ERA Wednesday night. Instead, he wound up allowing three earned runs over nine relatively smooth frames to the Royals and will have to settle for a career-high in single-season innings, and his third-straight 200-inning, 3.51 ERA or under (weird cutoff, I know) campaign.
That's a pretty solid track record for a 26-year-old who was released by two organizations before he ever made the majors. He wound up being the most dependable member of the 2015 Sox staff, despite being conspicuously pushed to the background in early-season promotion efforts and persistently defined with his fluky inability to get run support from his awful supporting cast.
Quintana has pretty much no remaining upside at all, his development of a capable curveball, combined with some extra tics on his fastball, rounding out his change and nailing down plus-plus command all at once can only be described as "magical," and I would be surprised if he makes multiple All-Star Games in his career, but this is as steady as it gets for performance on the MLB level.
2. Less steady, is David Robertson, whose stagger to the finish is now starting to break through to very actively worrisome and deficient levels, and whose levels of punishing Robin Ventura for good decisions is bordering on Pavlovian. Eric Hosmer sealed the Royals 10-inning victory Wednesday when he extended his arms on an elevated Robertson fastball and clubbed a two-run shot, the career-high seventh home run Robertson has allowed this season, when the Sox closer was out to preserve an unlikely tie game in extras.
Robertson's weird split between results and peripherals aside (3.47 ERA vs. 2.58 FIP), what troubled me most about Wednesday night is that he seemed unsure of how to go about getting outs. He tooled around with a shaky changeup with Ben Zobrist, and didn't flash a good enough knuckle-curve to get Hosmer off his fastball. Bad results are one thing, but Roberston's approach itself seems to be in turmoil at this point, and he's already admitting to pressing himself to finish strong.
3. Jose Abreu went through a 2-23 stretch last week and chilled some hope that he would blow up his home run total into the mid-30s. But after kinda clumsily hunting high fastballs all night, he got a hold of an Edinson Volquez heater in the seventh and murdered a line drive deep out to right-center for his 30th of the season and his 99th RBI, a rare success story from a night mostly marked by the Sox failing to touch up a clearly erratic Volquez. These are silly, silly counting numbers, and still they provide so much solace to me that Abreu had a reasonable approximation of his rookie season, even though his OPS dropped nearly 100 points.
4. Nick wrote a column for the Rock River Times lamenting seven years of institutional failure for the White Sox franchise. Expect this to be continued theme in our site's writing until there's major progress in fixing it. Even then, we'd probably still be writing about it getting fixed. We're insufferable, admittedly.
5. The USA Today ran an article toting the 'seems obvious but is still jarring to see' figure of 87% of bench-clearing brawls stemming from conflicts between players of different ethnicities. Baseball's various culture clashes are regularly on display in any game, but the standout moment of this column by far is veteran hurler Bud Norris' horrifying peak behind the nativist curtain of a quote:
Norris' combination of egregious historical inaccuracy on the US' ownership of the sport, leads to his misguided sense of ownership over the current culture of the sport, leads to his righteous indignation at the lack of assimilation to his ideals, along with some deluded ideas that American dollars are being shared out of charity and not earned by world-class talents. He's got his head impossibly deep in the sand, but this is a pretty illuminating detailing of how a string of misconceptions merge into a fully-formed and entrenched ridiculous position.
6. Another frustrating, injury-stained season for Micah Johnson has ended in, well, injury. He will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday, after describing it "going out on him" during at-bats in Detroit. Major ligament damage to his ACL is not anticipated but the continued inability of speed-based player to get through the year without leg injuries is not encouraging. Plus, the note in here that he's working on removing "a hitch" from his double play turn once he's back in action is a reminder how raw this guy who will be 25 in December still is.
Stock in Micah Johnson OFP is not particularly high right now.
7. I can't rule out the possibility that I'm just having ministrokes all the time at this point and not realizing it, but I could have sworn I saw a CSN promo Wednesday with the voiceover "Tyler Saladino leads the Silver & Black attack..." just a week after seeing a commercial showing defensive highlights from him in slow motion spliced with Hawk calling out "Showtime!"
Saladino's OPS hasn't even been .700 since July and he lost all grip on regular playing time at the start of this month so that the Sox could give a long audition to the objectively awful Mike Olt, so beats the hell out of me how it's decided who to promote, but between the Sox throwing everything behind Samardzija instead of Quintana and their broadcast network going all-in on their surprise promotion utility infielder for commercials, I see that factors like "track record with the club," "long-term role with team," "talent level," and "current performance," are all things that can be negotiated around if they're absent. That's got to give a lot of hope to the Rob Brantlys of the world.
8. Meanwhile, Saladino is being hinted as someone who could replace Alexei Ramirez at short next season, under the premise that the difference between their offense would be negligible because Ramirez is so deeply into his decline phase. Applying the transitive property to such an assertion is hilarious, because you're basically saying utility infielder Tyler Saladino is as good as your middle-of-the-order right fielder of the future.
Ramirez and Avisail Garcia have similar ISOs (.109 and .110), total slugging (.359 and .366), and swing-happy approaches (5% walk rate to 5.6%), with their main point of being differentiation being that Garcia is not terrified of getting plunked, allowing him to get on base slightly more, but Alexei is actually an effective base thief.
Which is to say, if you have two similar below-average offensive players, worry about replacing the one who's a clumsy right fielder more than the rangy shortstop. Obviously a great thing would be to upgrade both (upgrade not just "suck just as bad but save money for Reinsdorf" plan that Saladino would be part of), but really I just want another framing device for how awful Avisail has been.
9. I make a lot of jokes on here, but as I read through this story interviewing the guy who reportedly stole the Charlotte Knights mascot costume after passing out at a Beerfest at the park, and then went out to downtown Charlotte in full dress and I am at a loss of what to add. This story has everything.
The moment where fate itself seems to wink at the protagonist
A stretch in the rising action of the narrative when anything seems possible.
An--in retrospect--insufficient attempt to resolve the conflict.
And finally, sincere lament.
"Mr. Knight," what a dramatic flourish.
Mostly I trust the reader's ability to get the joke on their own, but this man assumes the owner of the team is named "Mr. Knight" because they're the Charlotte Knights. I want to applaud.
10. Prepare yourself for doom, Royals. Look into the eyes of your destructor.
John Danks vs. Royals
Career: 2.57 ERA in 136.1 IP
2015: 3.03 ERA in 32.2 IP
2014: 2.25 ERA in 20 IP
2013: 0.00 ERA in 8 IP
He blew out his shoulder and they got worse at hitting him!
Speaking of which, Kris Medlen is starting for the Royals, with two TJ surgeries under his belt and is totally capable of blanking the Sox.
11. The very valuable Danny Ecker reports U.S. Cellular Field will be adding new left, right and center field video boards in time for next season. The Cell is technically state-owned, so these improvements--in the $7.3 million range--are of course state-funded! The ISFA, which runs the Cell, caved in to the Sox long-held desires for the video board after Governor Bruce Rauner appointed a new head to the agency earlier this year who is far more pliable to their demands than say, that previous woman in charge who filed a lawsuit against Jerry Reinsdorf claiming he had her pushed out when she tried to run the Cell as something other than his personal profit engine.
Credit to the Sox, though, ever since they started getting everything they wanted approved by the ISFA, they have been more proactive in facilitating concerts and football games at the Cell; events that at least offer the possibility of putting money back into the agency's coffers.
They are, however, totally getting free video boards.
12. Jon Heyman reports that there are rumors that Jeff Samardzija was disappointed that he wasn't traded at the deadline, as it eliminated his chances of making the postseason, and will mean that he has to deal with the qualifying offer anchor in free agency. Those both would have been good things for him and he's sane to have wanted them.
But--and I really thought I couldn't be more disgruntled by his tenure--but, they wouldn't have been potential sellers at the deadline if he hadn't been part of stinking up the first half, and they could have easily been in this second AL Wild Card slapfight if he hadn't been the worst pitcher in the league in August. What's so hard about standing tall through your delivery, anyway?