1. Freaking out about the success of Ryan Raburn against the White Sox is the type of small-sample, meaningless matchup data drivel that I have always loathed. But uh, the numbers are starting to add up just a bit.
You'd expect a venerable AL Central lefty-masher to have some increase success against a team that specializes in left-handed starters, but yeeeesh. This is also annoying:
2. Which resulted in another game mediocre by Sale's standards: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, BB, 8 K, 3 HR from a truly great pitcher having a merely very good season, peppered with evidence that he's amazing.
Sale's eight strikeouts involved blowing guys away with 97 mph heat, backbreaking changeups, 96 mph two-seamers that made hitters dive out of the way in fear only to get called when it grabbed the inside corner.
He has 247 strikeouts this season, and is almost a lock to break Ed Walsh's franchise record for 269 strikeouts in a season, a record that is over 100 years old. Walsh struck out 269 batters in 1908...in 464 innings. It was a different time.
3. The Sox were undone on Labor Day mostly by being unable to cobble together more than two hits off Trevor Bauer (both from Avisail Garcia), despite Bauer's control being "four walks in the second" inning bad to start. They scored their only runs just making outs after Bauer handed them walks, and while two runs is an acceptable takeaway from a bases loaded, no one out situation, their second inning performance amounted to letting a struggling pitcher get off the hook and settle in.
Carlos Sanchez came up with the bases juiced after 12-straight balls, and swung on the first two pitches he saw. They were both strikes, but Sanchez couldn't put either one in play, which possibly is about him not appropriately keyholing for something he could handle, but probably more indicative of the issue that was apparent when Alexei Ramirez struck out to end the inning. When Bauer dialed up the velocity, the Sox didn't have hitters that could handle it.
Duty for Sanchez and Ramirez doesn't call on them to do much beyond punish mistakes, but when they are in the position to be the third or fourth best guys in the lineup, it harps on the need for two more solidly above-average bats in this lineup...somehow. Probably someone other than Mike Olt.
4. However, even with an 0-3 day on Monday, he's 17-36 in his last nine games, with four walks (a big deal for him), a homer and a double, and a pretty ridiculous .571 BABIP. He was due.
I wouldn't say Ramirez should be hitting second, because Jose Abreu should be hitting second, but go ahead and move him up since he's been average-ish since the All-Star break. The current cleanup hitter is Avisail Garcia, so don't act like there's some line of absurdity that would be crossed by putting Ramirez in the No. 4 hole that hasn't already been crossed.
5. More praise for Matt Albers, I guess. The portly innings-eater threw a perfect inning and a third, lowered his ERA to 1.50 over the now 30 innings he's managed to accumulate since breaking his finger. He's perfect for Ventura's love for using lower-order relievers in deficits, but....hmmm.....is there some way to cash in on relievers who sit at 90 mph in their mid-30's posting a 95% strand rate? Can we bring Type B free agents back?
6. Micah Johnson is expected rejoin the big club at some point this week.
Johnson resumed being an on-base monster in Triple-A after being sent down to Charlotte in May, hitting .313/.373/.463 in 347 plate appearances, a career-high eight home runs, and 28 stolen bases in 35 attempts. Johnson's livable OBP and tendency to work counts seemed like a forgettable skill while he was up and regular booting grounders, but got more cherished in his absence during Carlos Sanchez's early struggles.
Now, with Sanchez's worst stretch behind him, and without any indication that Johnson is moving to the outfield yet, where does Micah fit in? Probably some measure of splitting time with Sanchez to close out the year--I don't really think Leury is going to factor in--but his future is a little murky at this point to say the least. He has a long way to go to be defensively palatable at second, and probably will have to scrap to be an average hitter due to a likely low power output.
More than anything, he can't be the same constant screwup he was on the basepaths that he was in the early part of the year, and still be a major leaguer. He has too many weaknesses to not be maxing out his strengths.
7. Leury Garcia pinch-hit for Tyler Flowers in the seventh inning and struck out on three pitches. Yeah, he's probably not any good. I give up on this for now.
8. Whereupon the author just embeds tweets from his friends:
9. At least one part of the White Sox core will be getting valuable playoff experience this fall!
Fulmer has a 2.05 ERA across 22 innings in Winston-Salem, where he's struck out as many hitters (25) as he's allowed walks and hits combined. He's also been maxing out around three innings per start, but maybe they're taking the reins off for the playoffs (four innings?!?!).
Here's $5 saying Fulmer starts in Double-A, and is a September call-up consideration in 2016.
10. Carlos Rodon has made five starts since switching over to Tyler Flowers, and all of them are quality. He has a 1.85 ERA over those starts, a .186/.273/.314 batting line against him, and 33 strikeouts in 34 innings, despite all the concerns of reduced whiffs. He goes against Carlos Carrasco, who is making his first start in return from the DL after getting a cortisone shot for shoulder inflammation. Carrasco had a 1.47 ERA in August over four starts, and opponents hit .152/.198/.238 against him, which is bad.
Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne is throwing out the first pitch Tuesday night. The last time MLB let a lanky six-feet, five-inch hurler with impressive repeatability who hailed from a small college go pitch for Chicago, they regretted it, is all I'm saying.