White Sox

Early-season strikeouts and Adam Dunn

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Early-season strikeouts and Adam Dunn

The glaring number from Friday's home opener victory against Max Scherzer and the Tigers is 15: the number of strikeouts by White Sox batters. The total pushed their season total to a bloated 57.

In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter, since they're 4-2. They're also forcing opposingteams to throw an average of 150.2 pitches per game, which is important. But just for fun, let's look at this list:

Most strikeouts (by batters) in first six games of season, White Sox history 1918-present:

YearTotalMain culprit
201257Adam Dunn (10)
199654Danny Tartbull (8)
198746Ron Karkovice (8)
200943Jim Thome (7)
199742Chris SnopekRay Durham (7)

Baseball-Reference.com's fantastic database only goes back to 1918, and judging from trends, I'm pretty comfortable in saying that the 57 is most likely the Sox franchise record through six games: from 1918 to 1933, they have averaged only 17.2 strikeouts in the season's first six games.

The strikeouts may seem alarming because over the last two seasons, the whiff totals had been fairly low. In 2011, the Sox had the second fewest in the AL; they along with the Rangers were the only teams with less than 1000. And in 2010, the Sox had the second fewest as well, with only the Royals going down swinging less often.

Dunn of course tends to get singled out again, getting his golden sombrero refitted for the 2012 season, but I'll write Friday off to facing Scherzer, possessor of one of baseball's most potent sliders. Dunn battled in every plate appearance, almost always working the count full before his strikeouts, and overall his vision at the plate looks considerably better this season.

Numerically, Dunn is seeing 5.42 pitches per plate appearance, easily the best in the AL. That's 141 pitches seen over 26 plate appearances. Perhaps I dwell on this number a bit much, but it sets off a chain reaction of good things. First, it forces the starter out early. Next it wears out a bullpen over the course of a series. When you're seeing the 11th and 12th best arms in an opponent's bullpen, that's a thing of importance, so do your thing, Canyonero.

Dunn strikeouts by count:

Count201120120-22701-24912-2
55
13-2468
Dunn strikeouts by number of pitches:

Pitches seen
2011 Ks
2012 Ks
325044105481634572218
4
2
931

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Potential White Sox target comes off board as Madison Bumgarner signs with Diamondbacks

Having already lost out on Zack Wheeler, the White Sox can now scratch another free agent pitcher off the list of potential targets.

Sunday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the Diamondbacks are nearing a five-year deal with former Giants star Madison Bumgarner worth $85 million.

The White Sox weren’t heavily rumored to be pursuing Bumgarner and signing him was somewhat unrealistic. Although the South Siders are looking to add a starting pitcher or two this winter, Bumgarner enjoys hitting and therefore seemed more likely to sign with a National League team. The 30-year-old’s career OPS is .532 but he’s hit 19 homers in 11 seasons.

Adding Bumgarner would have provided the South Siders a veteran starter — one with an excellent postseason track record — to mix with their young rotation featuring Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease. With MadBum off the board, the list of major free agent pitchers continues to shrink. 

Lefties Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu are still available, but other teams that missed out on Bumgarner will shift their focus to the duo. Consequently, the White Sox will face stiff competition if they wish to sign either pitcher. Both were expected to be more affordable than Bumgarner but interested teams may be willing to offer more money to ensure they don’t come out of free agency empty-handed.

Where the White Sox turn next is to be determined. What's certain is they're running out of free agent options to upgrade their rotation.

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Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber

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USA TODAY

Indians signal big shift with trade of Corey Kluber

The Indians have won more than 90 games in each of the past four seasons, with three AL Central titles in that span, but big changes are coming in Cleveland.

With rumors of a Francisco Lindor trade still floating around, the Indians have dealt two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to Texas. The return package from the Rangers includes outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and reliever Emmanuel Clase.


DeShields Jr. is a 27-year-old speedster who has struggled offensively since debuting with the Rangers in 2015. He has a career .668 OPS with a .591 OPS in 2018 and a .672 OPS last season. For comparison, White Sox outfielder Adam Engel had a .614 OPS in 2018 and a .687 OPS in 2019.

Clase is a 21-year-old righthander who debuted with the Rangers last season. He is a hard-thrower, capable of reaching 102 mph with his fastball while also getting cut action on it. Clase had a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings in the majors in 2019. Still, he is only rated as the No. 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system by MLB Pipeline.

The Kluber trade is relevant to the White Sox because it’s a division power trading away a key player for younger, less established talent. It also shows the price to pay for a noteworthy pitcher in a trade.

If the White Sox fail to land a marquee starting pitcher in free agency, a trade is the next route.

The Kluber deal may have implications for the Cubs as well. Texas appears to be intent on competing with the Astros, A's and Angels in the AL West. The Rangers have been linked to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, and if he winds up in Texas, that would clarify possible trade partners for Kris Bryant.

Back in the AL Central, Kluber was a stud for the Indians from 2014-2018. He surpassed 200 innings each of those seasons and had a 2.85 ERA in that five-year period.

Last season, however, Kluber was limited to 35.2 innings in seven starts after getting hit by a line drive on May 1, which fractured his right arm. Even before the injury, the 33-year-old righthander struggled with a 5.80 ERA and the highest walk rate of his career (15 in 35.2 innings).

The Indians didn’t win the AL Central last season, but the fact that they won 93 games with only seven mostly ineffective starts from Kluber is a sign that he may not be as essential as he was in previous years.

Perhaps the return for Kluber is more a sign of a lack of belief in him after a tough 2019, but this level of package is something the White Sox could put together without trading a core piece of the future.

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