The White Sox pulled even at 1-1 for the abbreviated 60-game 2020 regular season with a 10-3 win over the Twins on Saturday (box score). Given the margin, the Sox had a number of positives to point to, including a pair of homers from utility man Leury Garcia, who hit eight homers in all of 2019.
Another, bigger positive is the performance of veteran lefty and free agent addition Dallas Keuchel:
Those two runs charged to Keuchel came after he'd exited the game, when Nelson Cruz went deep off reliever Steve Cishek. Keuchel never cracked 90 on the gun, and as you see above he struck out only one Twin. He's long been a hurler who thrives off inducing weak contact, keeping the ball on ground, and fielding his position well. Particularly encouraging are those 11 ground balls versus just one fly ball. Keuchel regularly runs high ground ball percentages, but authoring that kind of ratio against what was in 2019 the most fly ball-inclined offense in the game is particularly impressive. That's precisely what the Sox need from Keuchel this season, as he'll be leaned on as a rotation stabilizer.
Here's some additional good news for South Siders:
That's veteran DH Edwin Encarnacion -- another free agent addition -- homering in the fifth inning on Saturday. Yes, that was something of a meatball from Zack Littell, but Encarnacion still turned it around with an exit velocity of 104.9 mph. Last season, Encarnacion registered exit velocities on 477 batted balls, and just 44 of them left the bat faster than Saturday's 104.9 mph. Given that Encarnacion is 37 years of age, you worry about premature decline (even though he's been highly productive in recent years). Deep decline for E.E. is of course very much still possible in 2020, but laying into one like that at roughly 105 mph is a positive sign even when the sample size equals one.
The Sox this past offseason were quite active in pairing veteran additions with their impressive young core. They have realistic designs on the playoffs this season -- especially now that the field has been expanded to 16 teams -- but to get there they'll likely need quality contributions from Keuchel and Encarnacion. Saturday's win occasioned both of those things.