Indians and White Sox Double Dose
Game One: Indians 4, White Sox 3
Game One of the doubleheader went down to the wire for the Cleveland Indians. The Indians scored all four of their runs during the first three innings of the game. After that, the pitching dominated enough to hold the Chicago White Sox to three runs, two of which came during the fifth and ninth innings.
On the offensive side, both shortstop Francisco Lindor and centerfielder Bradley Zimmer went yard. Each hit their home runs off of right-hander Dylan Cease. According to Statcast metrics, Lindor’s home run traveled 412 feet to right-centerfield. It came off the bat at 106 miles per hour. Meanwhile, Zimmer’s traveled 388 feet with a launch angle of 40 degrees.
While the offense was impressive, the starting pitching was what stood out once again. After concluding the three-game series over the weekend with a starting rotation ERA of 1.89 with 30 strikeouts against the Kansas City Royals, Aaron Civale kept things moving today.
Civale Keeps the White Sox Offense in Check
Aaron Civale threw a total of six innings today, while allowing two runs, seven hits, and one home run. Of the 100 pitches that he threw – 67 were strikes. For his first outing of the season, it was an impressive one especially building off of the success of 2019.
Civale relied heavily on his cutter during today’s start. He dotted that pitch in and out of the strike zone making it very deceiving for the White Sox hitters. According to Baseball Savant, the cutter resulted in six swinging strikes for the right-hander. It averaged 87.3 miles per hour (MPH) and had an average exit velocity of 76.8 MPH.
The home run that Civale served up was a slider that was left hanging for shortstop Tim Anderson. It ended up on the far right side of home plate just outside of the strike zone. What’s interesting is that Civale tried to attack Anderson at the very top of the strike zone in the center with a cutter. It ended up being called a ball before Anderson fouled off a curveball prior to hitting the home run.
Over his big league career, Anderson has had a lot of success hitting cutters. According to FanGraphs, over his four-year big league tenure, Anderson has a cumulative batting average of .378 on that pitch with a .464 Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP). Furthermore, on cutters thrown outside of the strike zone such as the one today, Anderson has a career O-Contact% of 53.5%.
Bullpen Does It Job and Closes the Door
Following Civale’s outing, the Indians utilized three relievers to end the game. All three combined for four hits, one run, one walk, and five strikeouts over three innings. In addition, Brad Hand earned his second save of the year.
Furthermore, the earned run against Hand ended the Indians streak of having the only bullpen in all of baseball with a 0.00 ERA still. As they say though, all good things must come to an end eventually.
Game Two: Indians 5, White Sox 3
Game Two of the doubleheader started with a 3-run first inning for Cleveland. Francisco Lindor started by hitting a double scoring third baseman Jose Ramirez. Following that, first baseman Carlos Santana homered. Santana’s home run traveled 395 feet and came off the bat at 103 miles per hour, according to Statcast measurements.
Cleveland would go onto score two more runs in the fourth inning before being shut down for the rest of the game. On the other side, the White Sox scored one run in the second, another in the sixth, and their final run in the eighth.
Both bullpens did a great job of shutting down the opposing team’s offense. Adam Cimber and Dominic Leone each got a hold for Cleveland. Meanwhile, rookie right-hander Cam Hill recorded the first save of his big league career. While the pitching was effective overall especially in regards to the bullpen, there was one particular moment that stood out and that was the outstanding catch Oscar Mercado made during the eighth inning.
Oscar Mercado a Defensive Wizard
While many people outside of the Cleveland Indians organization have had concerns regarding Oscar Mercado’s ability to play centerfield, the Indians feel very comfortable with him at that position. In fact, Mercado showed the Indians enough during his rookie season last year to solidify himself on the depth chart.
A big reason why is because of the defense Mercado provides to the Indians outfield mix. Today’s catch had a 40% catch probability, according to data compiled by Statcast. Based on the catch rating scale, that meant Mercado made a four-star catch. Last year, he made six of those and there’s a very good chance he could replicate that this season.
Furthermore, Mercado spent time in all three outfield positions last year. In left field, he recorded 180 innings of work and had zero Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Switching to right field, Mercado recorded 63 innings and had a -2 DRS value. However, in centerfield over 698 2/3 innings, he had a DRS value of 10. From that, it is easy to see that the 25-year old thrives at that position.
Beyond that, at the centerfield position, Mercado recorded a Range Factor Per 9 Innings value of 2.61. That was higher than the league average in that category of 2.49. The range factor is significant because it factors in the putouts and assists that a player makes during the number of innings they play. Then, it takes that value and multiples it by the average number of innings in a game.
Following today’s doubleheader, the Indians square off in the series finale on Wednesday. The first pitch is at 5:10 Eastern. Right-hander Zach Plesac gets the nod for Cleveland and Lucas Giolito (0-1 17.18 ERA) will start for Chicago.
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