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Royals series preview: Chicago White Sox

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A South Side rebuild in closeup

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Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox
The BABIP King
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine a team possibly being worse than the Royals have been. While the Chicago Pale Hose may enjoy a better record at 8-9 than the 7-11 Royals, they have amassed just 0.7 fWAR as a team (for comparison, the dreadful Royals have totaled 2.0 fWAR). Their rotation has been replacement level as a unit, relying upon their bullpen (1.1 fWAR) to salvage an otherwise awful start to the season.

Both teams have the luxury this week of looking across the diamond to the opposing dugout and thinking, “Well, if we can’t beat these guys, should we even be playing games?”

Game times and matchups:

  • Monday, April 24, 7:10 PM CDT - Jason Cy Vargas (LHP) vs. Miguel González (RHP)
  • Tuesday, April 25, 7:10 PM CDT - Danny Duffy (LHP) vs. Dylan Covey (RHP)
  • Wednesday, April 26, 1:10 PM CDT - Nate Karns (RHP) vs. José Quintana (LHP)

Royals at White Sox pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Jason Vargas (L) 3 20.2 23 31.1 2 2.7 0.44 0.95 1.96 2.06 1.1 1.2
Miguel González 3 19.0 15 18.8 7 8.8 2.84 3.78 4.53 4.35 0.3 0.6
Danny Duffy (L) 4 27.1 22 21.2 10 9.6 1.32 3.43 4.25 4.14 0.4 1.2
Dylan Covey 2 10.1 2 4.3 5 10.6 7.84 7.72 5.82 6.17 -0.3 -0.3
Nate Karns 4 17.0 14 18.9 9 12.2 6.35 6.82 4.52 4.46 -0.4 -0.3
José Quintana (L) 4 23.1 20 19.4 12 11.7 6.17 5.63 4.91 4.66 -0.1 -0.3

It’s clear that the Royals hold an advantage in two of the three matchups here. Miguel González is one of the few Southsiders to get off to a good start, but he faces off against Jason Vargas, a player to whom the Cy moniker can justifiably be applied right now.

Danny Duffy squares off against purported human Dylan Covey. If you haven’t heard of him, you’re not alone. Never pitching above AA before this season (29.1 innings in AA last year), Covey will spend his age-25 season trying to get hidden on a rebuilding Chicago roster, having been snatched from the Oakland Athletics in the Rule 5 draft this past offseason. It’s probably fair to say he’s not very good. This makes it extremely likely that the terrible Royals’ offense will make him look super human, forever etching into our collective consciousness the Myth of Cy Covey.

José Quintana has had one good start in four chances. He’s been atypically issuing walks and letting dudes hang dong with aplomb. Of course, there’s nothing like getting to face the imp-ish (impetuous, impotent, impatient) Royals lineup to set things right, and the southpaw was worth 14.7 fWAR from 2014-2016, so when he does carve up the Royals, it will at least have been done by a very good pitcher.

White Sox position players

Player Pos. PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Player Pos. PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Avisaíl García RF 68 3 9 14 0 .371 .426 .581 .432 189 0.9 0.7
Matt Davidson DH/3B 36 3 6 10 0 .324 .333 .676 .417 178 0.5 0.4
Geovany Soto C 21 3 3 5 0 .222 .333 .722 .435 191 0.2 0.2
Tyler Saladino IF 57 0 3 0 1 .213 .339 .255 .281 80 0.2 0.3
Leury García (L) IF/OF 38 1 3 2 1 .222 .263 .417 .293 89 0.1 -0.1
Todd Frazier 3B 42 1 4 1 2 .108 .214 .216 .202 24 -0.2 -0.1
Tim Anderson SS 69 1 7 2 1 .179 .203 .254 .201 22 -0.2 -0.2
Melky Cabrera (S) LF 57 0 6 4 0 .250 .298 .327 .275 76 -0.3 0.2
José Abreu 1B 69 0 5 6 0 .203 .261 .250 .232 45 -0.4 -0.7
Bench
Yolmer Sanchez (S) IF 30 1 3 3 0 .267 .267 .467 .312 102 0.2 0.3
Omar Narvaez (L) C 30 0 1 1 0 .200 .333 .200 .260 65 0.1 0.1
Jacob May (S) OF 36 0 2 2 0 .033 .147 .033 .107 -45 -0.6 -0.6
Cody Asche (L) OF 38 0 3 1 0 .057 .132 .057 .101 -49 -0.7 -0.7

It seems like the Royals offense is so bad that all other offenses have to be better. It seems that way because it’s true. Of course, as a unit when incorporating defense, the similarly horrible Sox are actually a worse collection of position players. Worth a woeful -0.4 WAR by either measure, Rick Hahn’s club has combined near-Royal offense with putrid defense, worth 0.8 fWAR and 0.6 rWAR less than the Royals’ position players. Chicago’s “offense” has been fueled by Avisaíl García and Matt Davidson and their totally sustainable respective .465 and .533 BABIPs. Davidson’s hot start did little to convince Robin Ventura 2.0 Rick Renteria that Davidson should actually be in the lineup, as he hasn’t played since April 18, despite being healthy. With three full-time starters sporting sub-50 wRC+ plus seriously negative wRC+ from Jacob May and Cody Asche—both of them are worse than Byron Buxton has been by a wide margin—it is not difficult to see why the White Sox are struggling.

With serious advantages in two of the three pitching matchups and against a similarly terrible offense, it’s hard not to be hopeful that the Royals can use this series to make up for the horror show in Arlington.

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.

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Poll

How will the Royals fare against the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Royals sweep 3-0
    (44 votes)
  • 39%
    Royals take 2 of 3
    (63 votes)
  • 17%
    White Sox take 2 of 3
    (28 votes)
  • 16%
    White Sox sweep
    (26 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now