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Chicago White Sox Series Preview: The windy city is calling

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Fresh off a sweep of the Indians, the Royals hit the road to take on the black sock wearing White Sox.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees
Apr 14, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (7) gestures towards his ball after hitting a grand slam against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals get their second crack at the White Sox after the Royals took two of three to open the season. Since then neither team has exactly done well, but both did win a series against a 2018 playoff team, so they’re coming in hot. The White Sox lineup has been a bit of a stars and scrubs situation with Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez hitting quite well and others such as Daniel Palka, Wellington Castillo, Yolmer Sanchez and Jose Abreu not so much. Their rotation has been disappointing outside of Carlos Rodon, and their bullpen has a couple bright spots, but has also had its issues. There are a couple ways to look at it. Either things have to get better for the bottom of the roster and they’ll win some games or the top of the roster will come back to earth and they’ll be in big trouble. The top end talent is pretty darn talented, so they at least always have that.

Meet the White Sox

White Sox vs. Royals Tale of the Tape

Category Royals White Sox
Category Royals White Sox
Winning % .333 .357
Team wRC+ 102 95
Team xFIP 4.76 4.73
2019 Head to Head Wins 2 1
Highest fWAR Alex Gordon, 1.1 Tim Anderson, 0.9

White Sox Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Leury Garcia CF 55 .302 .327 .377 3.6% 27.3% 95 0.2
Yoan Moncada 3B 62 .328 .371 .586 6.5% 22.6% 161 0.6
Jose Abreu 1B 61 .200 .262 .418 8.2% 27.9% 81 0.0
Yonder Alonso DH 54 .143 .333 .286 22.2% 20.4% 85 0.1
Eloy Jimenez LF 57 .288 .351 .423 7.0% 29.8% 116 0.1
Tim Anderson SS 50 .429 .440 .653 2.0% 20.0% 203 0.9
Wellington Castilla C 33 .083 .333 .083 21.2% 21.2% 52 -0.2
Daniel Palka RF 32 .000 .125 .000 12.5% 40.6% -57 -0.7
Yolmer Sanchez 2B 37 .139 .162 .194 2.7% 32.4% -9 -0.5

White Sox Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
James McCann C 27 .308 .333 .500 3.7% 22.2% 127 0.1
Jose Rondon INF 26 .250 .308 .458 7.7% 30.8% 108 0.1
Adam Engel OF 23 .143 .182 .381 4.3% 34.8% 45 0.0

White Sox Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Alex Colome 6 6.0 0 0 28.6% 0.0% 3.00 3.3 0.1
Kelvin Herrera 7 7.0 0 0 18.5% 0.0% 1.29 4.09 0.2
Nate Jones 8 6.0 0 0 29.6% 11.1% 4.50 3.71 0.0

Probable Pitching Matchups

Monday, April 15th - 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Heath Fillmyer 1 3.0 0 0 11.1% 11.1% 15.00 6.04 0.0
Ervin Santana 1 3.2 0 1 4.8% 14.3% 17.18 9.08 -0.3

Ervin Santana signed a minor league deal with the White Sox and made his first start of the year last Tuesday. It didn’t go well. He walked three, struck out one and gave up three home runs in just 3 23 innings. Now, the Rays are a good offensive team, but a five percent swinging strike rate is really bad. His fastball was a big-time culprit in his first start. Of the 23 swings on it, 13 were put in play and six were not turned into outs. He averaged just 90.9 on it. So he’s either going to need to throw it less (it was more than half of what he threw in that outing) or it’s going to have to get better. Of course, his slider, which has been very good in the past, just didn’t have the bite it usually does, so maybe he just doesn’t have anything. After making just five starts last year for the Twins with those going poorly, it’s fair to wonder if the 36-year old has anything left.

Heath Fillmyer is in a similar boat to Santana in that he had a really bad first start of the year his last time out. He pitched just three plus innings and allowed five runs with as many walks as strikeouts. He obviously actually has the idea of upside remaining that Santana doesn’t given his age and relative success from his rookie season, but after a bad spring, he’s probably going to be on a short leash, especially with Danny Duffy working his way back to the big leagues relatively soon (maybe). He made one start against the White Sox last year and it was in Chicago and it went pretty poorly with him allowing six runs on seven hits over three innings with three home runs. He’s going to need to be better in this one, but if his slider isn’t working, I have a bad feeling that Guaranteed Rate Field is going to eat him up.

Tuesday, April 16th - 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jorge Lopez 3 17.0 0 1 18.6% 8.6% 3.71 4.95 0.0
Reynaldo Lopez 3 13.1 0 2 16.2% 16.2% 12.15 8.15 -0.5

Reynaldo Lopez showed a lot to like in his first full big league season with a solid ERA, enough strikeouts and stuff to make you dream and the ability to give the White Sox some innings at the very least. This season has been a disaster for him with an ERA over 12 and peripherals that say he’s been at least close to that bad. The six home runs allowed in 13 13 innings is rough and he has allowed 22 hits in that time as well. Plus, his control has gone to the bad place and he’s been hit HARD with an average exit velocity allowed of 94 MPH and a hard hit percentage of a ridiculous 51 percent. The cause for concern beyond the numbers is that his fastball is a full two miles per hour slower and while he’s still getting swings and misses on his slider, it’s slower too and with less rotation, so it’s been hit hard when it’s been hit. He hasn’t had a good start yet, so maybe this one is what turns it around. Or maybe it’s the one that causes the White Sox to worry even more.

Jorge Lopez, like last year, is showing flashes of dominance and other times shows why I still believe he likely ends up as a very strong bullpen weapon. Still, fewer hits than innings pitched and decent enough control have allowed him to post a respectable ERA even though he probably should have given up a little bit more. One area that gives hope is that his slider has been hit pretty hard this year after working as a solid pitch for him last year, so maybe he can get that on track and make up for some of the regression that seems likely to hit him. Maybe that’ll allow him to find more success later in games. The first time through the order, he’s allowed a silly .080/.148/.120 line, but that jumps to .280/.333/.680 the third time and .385/.438/.692 the third time through. The sample is small, but he’s going to have to at least get through a second time before he can really be counted on every fifth day.

Wednesday, April 17th - 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brad Keller 4 25.2 2 1 21.9% 12.4% 2.45 4.47 0.5
Lucas Giolito 3 16.0 2 1 25.7% 12.9% 6.19 3.85 0.2

Lucas Giolito is perpetually on the verge of figuring it out, but even after a strong first start against the Royals, his numbers through three starts are eerily similar to his 2018 numbers. The big difference so far is that he’s actually getting strikeouts, which was an area where he was so badly lacking in 2018, but even so, he’s still walking too many batters and isn’t good enough with his fastball. That said, the spin rate on his fastball is up about 140 revolutions, which is very significant and probably accounts for his higher strikeout rate in general. So the stuff is playing better, but the results aren’t there yet. He has a 2.40 ERA in seven starts adn 45 innings against the Royals, so this is a good chance for him to get right because he’s handled Kansas City his whole career.

Keller is coming off an odd start. He struck out a career-high 10 batters and got deep into a game the Royals needed him to get deep into, but he also walked five batters and has now walked 12 in his last three starts over just 18 23 innings. It’s also worth at least monitoring that he threw a career-high 118 pitches after throwing 109 in his previous start. I would imagine Ned Yost will have a fairly quick hook for Keller in this one, so both he and the Royals are going to hope that he’s back to what he was on Opening Day against these very White Sox when he went seven shutout innings and walked just one hitter. He definitely needs to figure out a way to command the ball better because the White Sox top tier hitters can hurt him if he doesn’t.

Prediction

Both teams are coming off solid series, as mentioned above, but this one is in Chicago, so I’m going to give the edge to the White Sox and think they’ll win two of three. It just feels like a letdown for the Royals. Of course, I haven’t gotten a prediction right this year, so what do I know?

Poll

Who takes the series?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Royals Sweep
    (41 votes)
  • 3%
    White Sox Sweep
    (6 votes)
  • 60%
    Royals Take Two
    (117 votes)
  • 15%
    White Sox Take Two
    (31 votes)
195 votes total Vote Now