After snapping a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory last night thanks to Tony Gonsolin and a trio of home runs by Will Smith, Cody Bellinger and Trea Turner, the Dodgers will look for a series victory over the White Sox before heading to San Francisco for a four-game series that begins tomorrow night.
Some of today’s news to share is spoiled by the lineup as Max Muncy is indeed back for the first time since May 25 as he dealt with his elbow injury. Zach McKinstry was sent back to Triple-A OKC to make room on the roster.
|CF||Bellinger (L)||C||Grandal (S)|
|P||Anderson (L)||P||Cease (R)|
After hitting that two-run homer in the 1st inning last night, Smith stays in the lineup at DH for the afternoon game. It will be his 4th game of the season at DH with Austin Barnes catching for Anderson today. Otherwise it’s essentially the same group out there as it has been during the series.
For the White Sox, it’s 8 right-handed batters against the left-handed Anderson in addition to the switch-hitting Grandal. And that is relevant because…
Plenty has been said this season about Anderson’s change-up, especially in the past two weeks, so I won’t spend as much time as I could on it here.
To put it simply, if it wasn’t for Gonsolin’s increasingly impressive season we may be talking even more about Anderson’s improvement with the Dodgers. Holding a 2.59 ERA/3.12 FIP/3.55 xFIP, this is pretty far and away the best the 32-year-old has looked in his 7 years in the majors.
Through 55 2/3 IP, he’s got the best K% of his career at 24.2 (beating 22.4 from 2017) and the best BB% of his career at 2.7% (5.4 last year was his previous best). That obviously means he’s at the best K-BB% of his career with a 21.5% beating 15.2% from 2017. Obviously pitching in Colorado hindered some of this, but he’s generating more soft contact than he has since 2017. Anderson’s average exit velocity and Hard Hit% are in the 90th and 89th percentile respectively while his BB% and Chase Rate are in the 98th percentile.
That adjusted change grip has his Whiff% on the pitch at 46.9%, far and away the highest on any pitch he has thrown in any year of his career. With his change sitting at an xBA of 1.55, an xSLG of .208 and a xWOBA of .169, Anderson is way down from last season’s .251, .424 and .298 in the three categories respectively. Overall, Anderson’s O-Swing% is at 41.3%, 4% higher than any other season while his O-Contact% is at 60.3%, the lowest since 2018.
And why the White Sox right-handed heavy lineup is fun is because Anderson has thrown just 10 changes to lefties this season and 230 to right-handed batters. The change is his top pitch to righties at 39.6%, with his fastball at 33.9% and his cutter at 18.2%. The cutter and sinker take over against left-handed batters with 46.1% and 23.3% respectively, with this chart offering a pretty clear reason why.
Anderson’s got his change and cutter breaking about the same amount in opposite directions around the fastball right now.
All of that is to say the very simple thing of he’s missing bats often with the change right now and when contact is made, it’s almost always weak contact. Going into today, both the change (79.2 mph) and the cutter (85.2 mph) are averaging an exit velocity of 81.2 mph.
As for Cease, the 26-year-old right-hander moved across Chicago back in 2017 after being drafted by the Cubs in the 6th round 0f the 2014 draft. Part of the package for Jose Quintana, Cease debuted a few years later in 2019.
Sitting at a 3.39 ERA/3.07 FIP/3.28 xFIP in 58 1/3 innings, Cease is at a 32.5 K% and a 12.0 BB%. Similar to Michael Kopech, the starter from the series opener, Cease has a high spin rate fastball (95th percentile) while unlike Kopech generating a high Whiff% (93rd percentile) and K% (93rd percentile).
Cease has slightly bumped the usage of his slider this season, with it at a 41.2 Whiff% and responsible for 34 strikeouts this season. Similar to Anderson’s change up, it’s used 34.7% of the time and has an xBA of .158, an xSLG of .227 and an xWOBA of .197
The fastball comes in at 96.6 mph while the slider is at 86.2 mph, and the two pitches account for nearly 80% of his pitches. The slider usage goes down and the curve goes up a bit to left-handed batters, as lefties have had a bit more success against the slider this season.
Honestly, the Muncy news is about it for today, so first pitch is set for 11:10 a.m. PT.