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wrigley field from right bleachersIt feels like it’s been a while since the Cubs just got flat-out whooped in a game. Their losses of late have all been of the coulda-woulda-shoulda variety, which only depresses me more.

Tonight, Edwin Jackson will look to hold down the many early-season-impressive bats in the White Sox’s lineup, while the Cubs will face Hector Noesi, who is trying to sub into the Sox’s beat up rotation. If the Cubs can be especially patient, they could have Noesi out of the game early, which could only help them today and the next two days, given how much the White Sox had to use their bullpen last night.

The White Sox’s lineup is a repeat of last night, while the Cubs change things up a bit, with Junior Lake getting a start in center field, and Chris Coghlan making his first start with the Cubs in left field.

Game Info

Chicago White Sox (16-17) at Chicago Cubs (11-19), 7:05 CT on WGN, CSN (Sox).

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Hector Noesi (11.12 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 4.26 xFIP; 3.00 K/BB)

versus

Edwin Jackson (5.24 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 4.47 xFIP; 1.53 K/BB)

Chicago White Sox Lineup

1. Alejandro De Aza, CF

2. Gordon Beckham, 2B

3. Jose Abreu, 1B

4. Adam Dunn, LF

5. Dayan Viciedo, RF

6. Alexei Ramirez, SS

7. Tyler Flowers, C

8. Marcus Semien, 3B

9. Hector Noesi, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Starlin Castro, SS

5. Welington Castillo, C

6. Nate Schierholtz, RF

7. Junior Lake, CF

8. Chris Coghlan, LF

9. Edwin Jackson, P

  • Karl Groucho

    I’ll take it, nice.

  • Drew7

    I’m so tired of watching pitchers try to hit.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Yep, and when (not if) the NL institutes the DH the meltdown on sites like this is going to be marvelous.

      • Drew7

        Yeah, I’ll probably be taking a couple-week hiatus when they change that rule.

  • willis

    Junior Lake, making things happen.

  • renegade4196

    Lake’s looked a bit better these past few games, has gained a little more patience at the plate. With a talent level that high, you want to see it work out.

    • itzscott

      Coincidence now that he’s in the lineup more consistently lately?

      • renegade4196

        ^this

      • Drew7

        Probably.

      • Brocktoon

        Considering through the first 15 games he started 9, and this is his 9th start in the 16 games since?

        • Brocktoon

          And that he’s OPSd ~100 points lower in that 2nd set of games?

  • http://BN Sacko

    Well there you go on taking pitches with RISP, I’d rather see an Olt whiff.

  • E

    Jackson has had the best stuff I’ve ever seen him have tonight. That slider to Abreu was filthy.

  • ssckelley

    Now that last pitch by Jackson was beautiful.

  • Jon

    Nice job by Castillo framing that #progress

    • E

      No! ;)

  • baldtaxguy

    Wil Remillard can’t turn it off. Man is on fire.

    • ssckelley

      Rafael Lopez has been awesome at AA, Cael Brockmeyer is off to a good start. The Cubs are finally producing some catchers!

      • Melrosepad

        I like what Luis Flores is doing at Iowa. 13 walks against 2 strikeouts.
        Has a .344 / .533 / .406 in 12 games (45 PAs)

    • CubsinCarolina

      Is Remilliard a legitimate prospect or just the benefactor of a hot start?

      • Jason P

        It’s almost impossible to tell for sure right now.

        • baldtaxguy

          Agreed, as of now. Back when drafted on 6/8/13, an unknown. From Brett on draft day:

          “#19. Will Remillard, C, Coastal Carolina. – And another college junior backstop for the Cubs. I really do like this approach to adding catchers to the organization. They take longer to develop anyway, and by taking college players, you’ve already passed some of the attrition. Remillard didn’t hit a ton this year, which makes me wonder if he’s advanced as a catcher, if not a hitter. (UPDATE: Remillard is technically a redshirt sophomore.)”

          And then from Luke, over the Winter, just a sentence:

          “Three more collegiate athletes from recent drafts to watch are Lance Rymel, Jordan Hankins, and Will Remillard. We have no game data on Remillard, but whispers after the draft were that the Cubs were high on him. “

          • ssckelley

            Cubs even had to pay a little over slot to get him to sign.

      • another JP

        I think Remillard has a chance if his defense improves. Might even a bit old for KC and should be in Daytona soon.

      • ssckelley

        Little bit of both, Cubs seem to be fairly high on him.

  • E

    The Cubs have a way to make the worst pitchers look so good.

  • SenorGato

    Seeing alot of Jacoby Ellsbury this year and man did the Cubs miss a good one. I love the Yankees’ OF.

    • Jon

      We have Elsbury 2.0 playing at Kane County

      • SenorGato

        Yeah, and both would have to move for Andruw Beltran Edmonds Almora for CF!

        • SenorGato

          Fuckin el…no for CF! in CF!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Els would be a permanent fixture in the CF wall by now.

      • Brocktoon

        No.

    • SenorGato

      Seriously THO – Ellsbury is really good at baseball. Basically carrying that team, has been their most consistent player this season. Watching him play next to Beltran is cool – he’s alot like a young Beltran (obviously less power more speed).

      I knew he was good enough to sign but seeing him play this year with Tanaka is a little ooph inducing.

      • Jon

        I get not typing 2nd or 3rd with some prospects on the cusp. But I’ll never get how they were so cavalier about throwing a group of 5th outfielders together to fill 3 starting outfield spots

        • Jon

          *tying up

        • Jason P

          But we’re versatile, so it’s all okay.

  • another JP

    This version of Ejax is worth $13M per year. Not being lazy by relying on his FB and has the Sox whiffing at the slider… very nice.

  • ssckelley

    Good move by RR there sending Jackson out as a decoy.

  • willis

    Very good start but Jackson tonight.

    And for the Russell show.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Holy zeroes Batman, Russell didn’t even give up a hit.

      • BlameHendry

        I must be dreaming. Well actually maybe not. Russell lets every single inherited baserunner score, but since there was no baserunners to inherit, nobody scored of course.

  • Karl Groucho

    Emilio Barneyfacio

  • half_full_beer_mug

    Oh no we’re going to have to hear about how it was a mistake to double switch here and not when Russell came in tomorrow (or maybe tonight).

  • BlameHendry

    What the actual fuck does it take to get this offense going? god this is pathetic…

    • half_full_beer_mug

      mistake fastballs, hanging breaking balls, or maybe if they could hit against their own pen.

    • Jason P

      Better players. It still baffles me that we didn’t pursue an outfielder this offseason.

      • Jon

        They traded for Ruggiano and in their minds that was a big move

        • Jason P

          Chris Young. Franklin Gutierrez. Corey Hart. Mike Morse. David Murphy. Those aren’t bank-breaking free agents, yet every single one would be an upgrade on this team. And I’m not cherry picking the successful ones, either. That’s the majority of the mid-level OF free agent crop last offseason.

    • Jon

      The smartest guys in the room can’t even field one starting caliber outfielder ..of course the offense is going to suck !

  • ssckelley

    I think the Sox are sitting on the curveball here.

  • KHRSS

    That’s game. If Rizzo and Castro aren’t hitting this team can’t score runs.

  • renegade4196

    Fuck. To Beckham? What the actual fuck?

  • willis

    Yep, lights out I’m afraid.

    Better luck tomorrow night hopefully.

  • benjamin

    What a meatball.

  • ssckelley

    Yep, Ramirez has a nice curveball but he hung it to Beckham.

  • willis

    His breaking stuff has been very nasty to this point. Sucks that one slider hung like crazy. But he came out throwing off speed….with his gas why not just go after him and then drop a slider or curve? Meh, too bad but he’ll be alright. Just hate this will be another loss.

    • Jon

      I’m not even going to hate on Ramirez the issue at had is the Cubs got one fucking run off a dude DFAd by 2 teams already this year…1 fucking run…1 fucking run!!!!!

      • willis

        Yes, that’s pretty bad. In fact, it’s miserable. But, when you don’t do anything to upgrade the roster on that side, these are the results.

      • BT

        And the team put together by your wonderboy Hahn, that completely rebuilt offense that you’ve been creaming over all year, got one fucking run off of Jackson, the guy you been bitching about since the beginning of 2013.

        1 fucking run…1 fucking run!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Jon

          On his worst day, Edwin Jackson is better than Hector Nesoi

          • BT

            But remember, Hahn’s the shit. He put “the smartest guys in the room” to shame. His offense should be knocking the stew out of Edwin “Theo’s mistake” Jackson. Right? Right????

            • Jon

              His teams about to be 17-17 if this lead holds up. Tonight felate yourself over 11-20, another top 5 draft pick and maybe winning in 2020

              • BT

                Big Jon. Missing the point since the inception of Bleacher Nation. I’ll let you go back to making the same inane points you make 75 times a day.

                (By the way, If I could felate myself, I wouldn’t be wasting my time on this site.)

                • Jon

                  What “point” is that?

                  • BT

                    Nothing man, you nailed it. I love losing, I’m happy they are going to be 11-20, and I’m totally happy waiting til 2020 for a competitive team. As always, your finger is on the pulse of the board, you are totally not repetitive, and you make me think about things in a new way.

                    Here’s a topic I think you should really look into though. Have you noticed how bad our outfield is this year? You should try bringing that up some time.

              • itzscott

                Top 5???

                The way this is playing out I’ll be very disappointed with anything above #1

              • Jason P

                We could also talk about the way the Marlins have rebuilt their team, despite having the worst owner in baseball. I’d trade their core for our core any day of the week

                • Jason P

                  Though I should add, I’m happy with the way our core has played this year.

          • Voice of Reason

            I’d still take nesoi over Jackson. At least I could release nesoi immediately if I wanted.

            We’re stuck with Jackson.

  • Bixler51

    Renter finally has the balls to pinch hit for a starter (Olt for lv). Way to go Ricky! Welcome to the job!

  • willis

    This is wild. The two starting pitchers for the Cubs the last two nights went 16 innings allowing 1 ER. And the White Sox get two wins. That’s almost unbelievable.

    • Rebuilding

      Story of the season. People moan about our pitching in the minors, but we’ve shown the ability to piece together a staff. We need an OF. Not just a whole outfield…just one outfielder who can hit would be nice

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Damn Strop has screwed the pooch. Meanwhile in Iowa Baez goes 0 for 4 and strikes out twice.

  • Bixler51

    I think Olt over the next two weeks needs to either play every day or be sent to the minors every day. Platooning a young player never seems to work (Kolten Wong a recent example) and seems to break their confidence.

  • Bill

    Who in the world thought Olt was an above avg fielder? The guy is a butcher at 3B. He drops balls left and right, makes poor throws. If he can’t hit above avg then he should not be playing because he’s a poor fielder.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Olt is getting sufficient at bats against favorable pitchers. If he can’t hit the lefties and hasn’t hit the rifgties either what do you expect RR to do. Maybe you need to admitt that maybe Olt sucks.

      • Bixler51

        I’m not eliminating suck age as a possibility, but I would like more regular playing time before I come to that conclusion.
        The way this sports week is going, the Bears will draft Tommy Rees at 14.

  • Darth Ivy

    Just starting to follow WE and LI on fangraphs. WPA is really interesting, too. Now, I know most stat guys don’t like to think clutch is a real thing, but could we get a sense of clutch by comparing WPA and something like WAR? Maybe, take the defense out of WAR to get the sense of how clutch they are at the plate?

    Does that make sense?

    • Darth Ivy

      My line of thinking is that if a player has a high WPA to his WAR, could that player be more clutch than a player with a lower WPA to WAR?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        It would, if WPA over one stretch of time predicted WPA over another stretch of time. However, a good WPA month in May predicts nothing about June.

        • Darth Ivy

          You can’t look over a season and say that a guy has been clutch? Maybe if a guy does have a good WPA to WAR for a season, it might happen again next season?

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Sure: and if I flip heads on this toss, then I might flip heads on the next toss. However, WPA is even more flighty that “clutch” in that people will use “clutch” for a wide range of general situations (e.g., PAswRiSP) whereas WPA is strongly affected by high leverage situations, which are concentrated in close and late innings. (Somewhat ironically, they should be maximized for guys on average teams, as they routinely play the most close games: guys on really good or really bad teams simply will be in fewer high leverage situations.)

            At any rate, because WPA is so strongly affected by such tiny number of situations and because guys might go many games without batting in those situations, it has zero predictive power.

            • Darth Ivy

              flipping a coin? I believe that there are human factors in performing sports that don’t go into determining heads or tails in a coin flip

              Even if you’re not using it for predictive purposes, I wonder if you can use it look back on a season or career

              • Brocktoon

                Before Doc goes off on some boring tangent about the % affect a human can control over a coin flip, there is no notable consistency on a year to year basis showing clutch as repeatable. Looking back certain players are going to be more “clutch” than others, but it’s nothing significant enough to be anything more than variance.

                • Darth Ivy

                  That’s where I get confused. There are players that are more clutch, but then it’s disregarded as variance, then people say it’s not actually clutch because it’s really variance

                  I just don’t understand. It’s okay, I hope I don’t sound like I’m arguing or anything, I’m just thinking with my fingers here and exploring these new stats.

            • Sandberg

              Trying to prove clutch is barking up the wrong tree. Has anyone tried to prove “choking”?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            We haven’t found a way to predict clutch. We can recognize it after the fact, but that’s not terribly helpful.

            Think in terms of weather. Anyone can predict yesterday’s weather. That’s easy. And finding stats that show yesterday’s clutchiness is similarly easy. But just like predicting yesterdays weather doesn’t tell you much, recognizing yesterday’s clutch doesn’t tell you much.

            Before we can say we can predict the weather, we have to be able to identify statistical indicators that allow us to intelligently discuss, predict even, tomorrow’s weather.

            And the same more or less holds for clutch. Recognizing it in the past doesn’t help if we can’t predict (within the same probabilistic constraints of any baseball prediction).

            So far, as best we can tell, what we refer to as clutch is nothing more than random variation within the expected range for a given player’s performance. Even the clutchiest of all clutchy Captain Clutchs, when examine their clutch numbers in relation to their career stats, turn out to have success no more or less often in the clutch than in other situations.

            To say that differently, it turns out good baseball players do good things in the clutch more often than bad baseball players do good things in the clutch. So good players get a reputation for clutchiness when really they are just good.

            But that’s just the best we’ve done so far. Studies continue, and tomorrow someone (maybe you) may come out with a new way to examine the numbers that allows us to meaningfully predict clutch. And, at that point, the statistical story changes.

            • Darth Ivy

              I guess I haven’t seen studies that others have seen, b/c I don’t understand why “what we refer to as clutch is nothing more than random variation”

              To me it just sounds like people say that and I’m supposed to believe it because people tell me that. Again, maybe there are studies out there that I simply haven’t seen, so I’m not arguing or anything.

              But even if it’s not to make predictions, I’d be curious how a WPA/WAR thing would look if applied to certain players over their careers, or certain seasons

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                That’s the great thing about baseball statistics – if you don’t like the current thinking, the tools and the data are there to study it and contribute.

                In this case, if you are interested in studying clutch on the basis of WPA / WAR, I’d start by picking an era to study, pull up the spreadsheet for players in that era (baseball reference will let you do this as a .csv), and form that calculate your clutch stat for each player in each season.

                Then check for correlation between seasons. If a high clutch stat in Season A correlates highly with a high clutch stat in Season B, you’re on to something. While you’re at it, look for correlations with other factors as well (OPS, wOBA, HR/FB, PA, GB% might be some good ones to start with).

                From there, if the clutch stat holds up on the between years correlation, then you might start deep diving into studying those cases where it correlated the most strongly to try to figure out what those players had in common.

                If all goes well, you’ll come out with proof that clutch is real.

                • Darth Ivy

                  Wow, thanks!! That’s some amazing advice and sounds like a great summer project!

                  And thanks for being patient with me

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    Yep. I’m interested to see the results, actually.

                    If you run into problems, be sure to hit me up (or Doc, he outclasses me in this area and I suspect would be happy to help).

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  The one thing that you would need to add is a big distribution of players. When you look at 20 players, you expect one to have a one-in-twenty (probability = 0.05) deviation from expectation just by chance alone. After all, that’s what the probability says: if all 20 guys hit the same in the clutch and they did otherwise, one in 20 will have improbably good (and one in 20 will have improbably bad) numbers. With any sample size, the deviations (once standardized for PAs) are expected to follow a normal distribution, and the probabilities should follow a uniform distribution: unless, of course, there really are “clutch” and “choke” players, in which case the deviations will have a flatter distribution and the probabilities will have a bimodal distribution.

                  (I’ve done this for “isoC,” i.e., BAwRISP – BAwoRiSP, for all players in seasons, and that is what I’ve found.)

          • DocPeterWimsey

            On a side note, this came up last year when we were discussing the “clutch” Cardinals, who had such a great team BAwRiSP. However, the Cardinals team BA in high leverage situations (the ones that boost or hurt WPA most strongly) was actually lower than their overall BA until late in the season! So, one clutch performance failed to predict another. (The Cards were not alone: there was no correlation between team BAwRiSP and team BAiHLS after you factored out overall team BA. That sort of led to “Sandal!” “Gourd!” “SANDAL!!” “GOURD!!!!”)

            • Darth Ivy

              yeah, that entire team had an outlier year. But Molina, specifically, does strike me as a guy who does better in clutch situations. Even he may have had an outlying year last year.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Molina provides a good example of how small the samples sizes involved really are. For his career, Molina is a 0.295 batter in high leverage situations, as opposed to a 0.284 hitter otherwise. He has all of 459 PAs and 390 ABs in high leverage situations: which means his 115 “clutch” hits are all of four more than the 111 that we expect.

                (Moreover, that’s diminished by the fact that he actually has slightly fewer XBH in those high leverage situations: obviously, a single is great in those cases, but doubles and HR add much more to WPA in those cases.)

                Now, if we broaden “clutch” to mean just performance with RiSP, then Molina starts to look better: he bats 0.308 then as opposed to 0.274 otherwise. However, that is all of 33 more hits over a 10+ year career: or one extra “clutch” hit every two months. Moreover, it isn’t all that improbable: we’d expect about one player in 17 or 18 to deviate expectations by that much simply by chance.

                (Curiously, we see the same pattern with XBH here: Yadier has gotten a lot of singles with men in scoring position, which are nice, but he doesn’t get the really deadly doubles and HR as often.)

                However, this also shows why the WPA/WAR issue will be so spastic. Molina is averaging about 46 high leverage PAs (and about 39 BAs) per season. That’s less than 2 a week! (He has about 4X as many medium leverage PAs: but the majority of his PAs are in low leverage situations, just like everyone else.)

            • Spriggs

              But shouldn’t you isolate the high leverage batting stats from the overall batting stats before you compare the two? Otherwise your results are biased.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                They are separated. In rate tests like this, you determine the probability of X Type A outcomes in M tries and Y Type B outcomes in N tries given (first) an expectation of (X+Y)/(M+N) and then X/M & Y/N. In other words, you null hypothesis is that clutch BA = non-clutch BA (and thus = BA, as that’s everything) vs. clutch BA ≠ non-clutch BA.

                You can also do this easily with OBP. It gets trickier with slugging because that is a compound number: what you really need is a multinomial looking at singles, doubles, triples and HR in the two situations. And then it gets real funky for wOBA because you need to do that multinomial (adding walks & K’s to the “die”) and then integrate over the combinations that yield the same wOBA! (Or, in a pinch, just use computer simulations!)

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