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White Sox Series Preview: Let’s get it started

The Royals will try to do what they couldn’t do against the AAA Storm Chasers - win.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, uh, you guys see that it’s baseball season? Well I did! And so did the Royals, by golly! And they’re taking on the Chicago White Sox, the team that tried to sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and ended up with Jon Jay and Yonder Alonso. Hey, they got Ivan Nova too. Oh yeah, and they signed some guy named Eloy to a long-term deal before he ever had a big league at bat. And some relievers. So that about sums up their off-season coming off a 100-loss campaign that still didn’t get them the worst record in their division thanks to our friends, the Royals.

White Sox vs. Royals - Tale of the Tape, 2018 Stats

Category Royals White Sox
Category Royals White Sox
Winning % .358 .383
Team wRC+ 88 92
Team xFIP 4.63 4.88
Highest fWAR Whit Merrifield, 5.2 Reynaldo Lopez, 2.2

White Sox Projected Lineup - 2018 Stats

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Yoan Moncada 3B 650 .235 .315 .400 10.3% 33.4% 97 2.0
Yolmer Sanchez 2B 662 .242 .306 .372 7.4% 20.8% 87 1.7
Jose Abreu DH 553 .265 .325 .473 6.7% 19.7% 114 1.2
Yonder Alonso 1B 574 .250 .317 .421 8.9% 21.4% 97 0.7
Eloy Jimenez (AAA) LF 228 .355 .399 .597 6.1% 13.2% 179 ---
Daniel Palka RF 449 .240 .294 .484 6.7% 34.1% 109 0.7
Wellington Castillo C 181 .259 .304 .406 5.0% 25.4% 95 0.2
Tim Anderson SS 606 .240 .281 .406 5.0% 24.6% 85 2.0
Adam Engel CF 463 .235 .279 .336 3.9% 27.9% 68 0.2

White Sox Bench - 2018 Stats

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
James McCann C 457 .220 .267 .314 5.7% 25.4% 58 -0.5
Jose Rondon INF 107 .230 .280 .470 6.5% 28.0% 102 0.1
Leury Garcia UTIL 275 .271 .303 .376 3.3% 25.1% 86 0.0
Ryan Cordell OF 40 .108 .125 .216 0.0% 37.5% -17 -0.6

Lineup/bench projection from

White Sox Key Relievers - 2018 Stats

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Alex Colome 70 68 7 5 25.5% 7.5% 3.04 3.44 1.0
Kelvin Herrera 48 44.1 2 3 20.7% 5.4% 2.44 4.31 0.4
Nate Jones 33 30 2 2 23.4% 11.0% 3.00 4.7 0.1

Probable Pitching Matchups – 2018 Stats

Thursday, March 28th - 3:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Carlos Rodon 20 120.2 6 8 17.6% 10.8% 4.18 5.40 0.8
Brad Keller 41 140.1 9 6 16.5% 8.6% 3.08 4.26 2.6

After an injury plagued season, Carlos Rodon will attempt to get back to where many thought he’d be when he had a strong debut season in 2015. Of course, as Royals fans know all too well, that season is getting farther and farther away and with just 32 starts in the last two years that were just average in the aggregate and another 28 in 2016 that were average, this might just be who he is. The big concern is the strikeouts disappeared in 2018, so if those don’t come back, he may very well far farther, as his xFIP above indicates he probably should have last year. His slider was still lethal last year and without a lot of right-handed thump in the Royals order, he has a good shot to start his season well.

Brad Keller is a bit of a surprise Opening Day starter for the Royals, but with Danny Duffy’s injury and no other strong candidates, the team’s best starter last season (both damning for the team and a compliment to him) gets the nod. Keller’s strong finish has to give Royals fans hope that he can at least be close to what he was in 2018. He finished his season going 5-1 in his final eight starts with a 2.25 ERA over 52 innings, but more importantly, he actually saw his velocity rise and his spin rate on his four-seamer rise in the last month of the season. Now we find out if it was for real.

Saturday, March 30th - 1:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Reynaldo Lopez 32 188.2 7 10 18.9% 9.4% 3.91 5.22 2.2
Jakob Junis 30 177.0 9 12 21.6% 5.7% 4.37 4.13 1.4

Of the two who came over in the big Adam Eaton trade to the Nationals, Reynaldo Lopez was considered the secondary piece with Lucas Giolito the headliner. But so far he’s been the better pitcher, though that’s not really great as he hasn’t been especially good. You’d expect a pitcher with his stuff to be racking up the strikeouts, but that hasn’t really happened for him, though he did improve a bit last season. He did get some more strikeouts in spring training with a 20.6% strikeout rate in spring training facing decent competition, but that’s mostly just noise at this point. With as hard as he throws and as good a stuff as he seems to have, it seems that he gets someone to predict a breakout for him, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’ve said this a few times on local radio spots now, but I’ll repeat it here. I believe Jakob Junis is going to be the Royals best starting pitcher this year. Why? It’s somewhere between a hunch and an educated guess, but I believe the better framing from Royals catchers this season is going to benefit him the most, stealing him some strikes on his slider and making it a pitch that hitters have an even harder time laying off. Junis spends a lot of time just outside to outside the strike zone, and that’s by design. Help him out just a little bit and he can go from average or so to at least above average pretty quickly.

Sunday, March 31st - 1:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Lucas Giolito 32 173.1 10 13 16.1% 11.6% 6.13 5.46 -0.1
Jorge Lopez 17 53.2 2 5 16.2% 9.4% 5.03 4.72 0.2

Giolito was supposed to break out last year, but then he magically didn’t when he couldn’t throw strikes like at all. He started bad and did improve as the season went on, but he struggled so much early that he couldn’t get back on track. Early indications from spring are that he might be ready for another breakout, but fool me once, well, you know the rest. The Royals should know pretty quick if this is new and improved Giolito or the same old, same old.

Jorge Lopez won the Royals third starter job, which is really kind of like the fifth starter, on the strength of a solid spring. And while I believe he’s ultimately ticketed for the bullpen where I think he can actually be good, he’s at least earned the opportunity to see what he can do in the rotation. We saw the upside last year in his perfect game bid against Minnesota, but we also saw the downside in his final start of the year against the Tigers just two starts later when he got lit up for three homers in one inning of work. His fastball isn’t quite as fast as I think you’d expect, but his curve and slider are both plus pitches that should theoretically help play his fastball up. If they’re working, he’s working, but he’s going to need to find a way to get more swings and misses with the fastballs if they’re going to work.


There’s obviously talent on this White Sox roster, but they’re still lacking and didn’t get their targets on the free agent market. So it’s another season of hoping the young guys put it together and figure things out. If they do, this is a team that could just be a starting pitcher or two away. If they don’t, they’ll be playing at the bottom of the division with the Royals and Tigers again. I think the White Sox take two of three in this one to start the season, but do ultimately end up around 90 losses once again.


How does this series shake out?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Royals Sweep
    (24 votes)
  • 5%
    White Sox Sweep
    (9 votes)
  • 66%
    Royals Win 2/3
    (110 votes)
  • 13%
    White Sox Win 2/3
    (23 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now