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Chicago White Sox Series Preview: Yep, they play each other again

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Anyone else getting tired of these guys?

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers
Aug 30, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (12) reacts after striking out in the second inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals go from hosting red to hosting white with the White Sox coming to town for the second time this season. These two teams just matched up in Chicago and have already met nine times this season, so there are no real surprises here. I imagine Tim Anderson still doesn’t like the Royals, but I’d assume there’ll at least be warnings before the games this time. It’s probably also not a surprise that Anderson has hit .281/.318/.418 since his blazing hot start, which is admittedly better than his .258/.286/.411 career line coming into the season but also not what you’d call “good.” So there’s that.

Meet the White Sox

Royals vs. White Sox Tale of the Tape

Category Royals White Sox
Category Royals White Sox
Winning % .306 .475
Team wRC+ 90 92
Team xFIP 4.78 4.97
2019 Head to Head Wins 3 6
Highest fWAR Hunter Dozier, 2.3 Lucas Giolito, 2.6

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 224 .293 .329 .365 3.6% 24.1% 89 0.8
Yoan Moncada 3B 257 .282 .340 .504 7.4% 28.8% 125 1.9
Jose Abreu 1B 262 .254 .302 .521 6.1% 24.8% 112 0.4
James McCann C 149 .336 .376 .500 5.4% 22.8% 137 1.5
Eloy Jimenez LF 147 .226 .279 .387 6.1% 31.3% 78 -0.4
Tim Anderson SS 215 .322 .353 .493 3.3% 19.1% 128 1.6
Yonder Alonso DH 223 .187 .287 .326 12.1% 22.0% 66 -0.7
Yolmer Sanchez 2B 182 .253 .339 .310 9.9% 23.6% 83 0.4
Charlie Tilson RF 108 .263 .324 .323 6.5% 26.9% 77 0.3

White Sox Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Wellington Castillo C 103 .189 .291 .356 9.7% 26.2% 77 -0.2
Jose Rondon INF/OF 90 .212 .256 .318 4.4% 28.9% 53 -0.4
Ryan Cordell OF 101 .230 .316 .379 8.9% 29.7% 90 0.0

White Sox Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Alex Colome 25 23.2 2 1 25.9% 7.1% 2.28 4.41 0.3
Kelvin Herrera 24 22.0 2 3 18.3% 9.6% 7.36 5.14 0.0
Jace Fry 27 22.2 1 1 25.5% 15.1% 5.16 4.04 0.0

Projected Pitching Matchups

Friday June 7th - 7:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Ivan Nova 12 66.1 3 5 13.5% 6.1% 6.24 4.82 0.2
Homer Bailey 12 55.0 4 6 21.4% 10.3% 6.05 4.49 0.6

The last time the Royals were slated to face Ivan Nova it was this same matchup and I indicated the over/under was one that was likely to be shattered. And then I jokingly said it would probably be a 2-1 final. So it was, of course, a 2-1 final. Now, brutal weather made it that way, so I’m confident again in saying that this has a chance to be a real slugfest because Nova has had a real tough go of it. He was actually okay in his start against Cleveland but still gave up two home runs and four runs over seven innings. Facing Nova is nice, though, because he’s going to throw strikes, he’s not going to get swings and misses and opposing offenses will have opportunities against him. He’s gotten just 14 swinging strikes in his last 338 pitches, so maybe the Royals strikeout issues of the recent past can take a break in this one.

When the Royals signed Homer Bailey, they were hoping for a bounceback after three straight seasons of an ERA above 6.00. His ERA currently sits at 6.05 and while he’s been better in the peripherals with more strikeouts and fewer hits, he’s still not good. He got roughed up by the Rangers in his last start, and even though he also had a pretty good go of it against Chicago in the start before, that was likely weather driven more than anything. In his last eight starts, he’s posted a 7.31 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 32 innings. He does have an 11 percent swinging strike rate in that time, which makes me believe he might actually be okay out of the bullpen, but you have to assume he’s on his last legs as Erik Skoglund gets closer to coming back from his suspension.

Saturday June 8th - 1:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Lucas Giolito 11 67.1 8 1 29.9% 7.7% 2.54 3.66 2.6
Brad Keller 13 78.0 3 7 15.7% 12.2% 4.50 5.08 1.1

The Royals get the pleasure of facing Lucas Giolito again, who has unfortunately figured it out. They did score three off him early in his last start, but part of that was he didn’t realize the start time was earlier and didn’t get his normal warmup in. All he’s done since the start of May is go 6-0 with a 1.48 ERA in seven starts spanning 48.2 innings with 55 strikeouts and 10 walks. No big thing. His swinging strike rate is 14 percent in that time. He’s throwing a ton of strikes too. Basically, he’s become everything everyone thought he’d be after he was drafted. The big difference is on the four-seamer, which he’s throwing about a mile and a half per hour harder and has added about 200 revolutions of spin to it, taking it from a pitch that opponents could sit on and maul to one that opponents should fear. And, as always, let’s note his dominance over the Royals even when he was bad. He’s 5-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 55.2 innings against them in nine starts. Royals currently on the 40-man roster have hit .137/.233/.308 against him in 133 plate appearances.

It seems like it’s been a minute since we’ve been able to talk positively about Brad Keller, but there are some encouraging signs from him on the strike-throwing front. He had another outing with good control, throwing 75 strikes in 100 pitches and not walking a single batter for the first time this year. He even had six strikeouts, which was the second most he’s had this season. That means he’s now walked just one in his last 13 innings. Being near the zone has led to more hits, so he’s replaced some walks with hits, but he’s getting a ton of ground balls now, so while those are volatile, maybe he can turn them into outs a little better in this start. It’ll be his fourth start against the White Sox this year, so hope is still alive for a six-start season against one team.

Sunday June 9th - 1:15pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Reynaldo Lopez 13 69.1 3 6 20.1% 10.4% 6.62 5.98 0.0
Glenn Sparkman 11 31.0 1 1 14.2% 6.0% 3.77 5.10 0.2

Reynaldo Lopez continues to frustrate the White Sox, and I have to think he’s getting close to the end of the line with their patience with him. After a decent enough start against Toronto in mid-May, he’s posted three straight clunkers, going 0-2 with a 12.83 ERA and allowing 24 hits in 13.1 innings. He’s struck out just 10, walked eight and allowed a whopping six home runs. He faced the Royals in the last series and gave up five runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings with just three strikeouts. He was actually pitching well before being unable to get out of the sixth inning in the game the Royals stormed back from down six to tie late. The stuff is there and looks unhittable at times, but he’s allowed five or more runs six times in his 13 starts this year and that’s not ideal.

Glenn Sparkman has looked pretty good in two of his three starts this year with the lone exception his start against these very White Sox. Though to be fair, two of the runs he allowed were inherited runs that scored after he was ejected. While he gave up some hard hits against the Red Sox, he did throw a lot of strikes and was sitting 94-95 with his fastball and touched 97, which is what you want to see. His changeup was also pretty good against them, while his curve was a bit of a problem. As a strike thrower who can get it up into the mid-90s, I like Sparkman getting an opportunity to show what he can do. My guess is he ends up back in the bullpen, but, hey, you never know. It’s not like this team is going anywhere so he might as well get a shot.

Poll

Can the Royals win a game?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Of course. They’ll sweep.
    (5 votes)
  • 25%
    Haha, no. White Sox sweep.
    (16 votes)
  • 23%
    Enough to win a series. Royals take two of three.
    (15 votes)
  • 43%
    Sure, one. White Sox take two of three.
    (28 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now

Prediction

The White Sox were a season-low six games under .500 after getting swept by the Twins, but they’ve gone 6-3 since then, feasting a bit on the Royals and Indians, but in the longer run, they’re 20-18 since losing two in a row to the Orioles in April. They are -30 in run differential in that time, but they’ve had some very positive developments since then. Until the Royals can win a game, I have to assume they won’t, so I say the White Sox sweep this one.