White Sox 3, Brewers 5: The Grandal Effect

The Chicago White Sox wrapped up their trio of exhibitions on Wednesday night, falling to the Milwaukee Brewers in an eight-and-a-half inning contest that saw the Brewers hit four solo home runs against the White Sox pitching staff.

Keston Hiura, Christian Yelich, Ben Gamel, and Orlando Arcia provided the Brewers with the long-ball offense they needed on the evening as the White Sox offense couldn’t put together the big innings that we saw them do on Sunday and Monday night against the Cubs.

Nicky Delmonico‘s two-run blast in the eighth inning after Luis Robert double to left and a run-scoring ground out by Robert earlier in the game was the extent of the White Sox offense.

While we didn’t see much in the way of fireworks offensively from the home side, we did witness the first taste of what I’ll be calling “The Grandal Effect” this season. We heard, read, and saw plenty this winter and spring regarding Yasmani Grandal‘s presence behind the plate as a game caller and pitch framer, but tonight we got to see it in full effect.

If you take a look below at the 3D pitch visualizer of each called strike for Carlos Rodon on Wednesday night, you’ll see at least six called strikes that are either completely or partially out of the strike zone. Five of those resulted in looking strikeouts by Christian Yelich, Jedd Gyorko, Ryan Braun (2), and Justin Smoak.

Yasmani Grandal’s elite framing skills stole Carlos Rodon five called strike-threes. That’s why they paid Grandal the big bucks back in November, and that’s why the Grandal signing will go down as one of the most important of the current era of White Sox baseball.

Carlos Rodon Called Strikes (July 23, 2020) via Baseball Savant

“I’m sure you guys saw that Yaz stole a strike from Gyorko there, you know he’s one of the best pitch framers in the game. To me, he fooled me and then I went back and saw the video where that pitch was, and he walked off like he was pretty confident. He set that up with his pitch calling and of course presenting it to the umpire.”

But the Grandal effect goes beyond just framing strikes. In his post-game media availability on Wednesday night, Rodon said that he just threw exactly what Grandal called, and it resulted in him striking out seven Brewers’ hitter in five innings of work while walking only one thanks to good fastball command and an even better salesman of those fastballs behind the dish wearing No. 24.

“I felt OK, fastball command was better,” Rodon said. “I just went with what Yaz called, and it worked.”

Their game plan also included Rodon working exclusively out of the stretch, and throwing fewer sliders than we normally see out of Rodon. “Most of the game I pitch out of the stretch anyway, so might as well start there,” Rodon joked with the media about the thought process behind ditching the windup.

Of course, Grandal also lived up to his signature sky-high on base percentage ability on offense, drawing a walk and eventually scoring on Luis Robert’s ground out early for the first run of the ballgame for the home team.

While Rodon’s final tune-up was good overall, it’s still unknown exactly how manager Rick Renteria will deploy the southpaw during the regular season. Wherever he’s used, Rodon’s itching to get the real thing going.

“All of us have been pretty antsy to get playing,” Rodon said. “We’re looking forward to Friday to open this thing up against a very good Minnesota team. Like I said, we’ve waited a long time because of the pandemic, but we’ve been ready the whole time.”

The White Sox plan to announce their 30-man roster that will break Summer Camp and open the regular season with the club this weekend.

Feature Photo: Chicago Sun-Times

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