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Chicago White Sox Series Preview: The second city welcomes some royalty

It’s one last series between the Royals and White Sox for the teams to hate each other for reasons.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians
Sep 5, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (7) celebrates after hitting a double against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY 
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals take on the Chicago White Sox for one last time in 2019 with a three-game set at Guaranteed Rate Field. You can see below that the two teams have played to a draw so far, so this will decide the season series between the two. The White Sox are 10.5 games ahead of the Royals in the standings, but probably aren’t that far apart, at least this season. Overall, the offenses aren’t that different, with the teams ranking 13th and 14th in the American League in runs scored, 13th and 14th in slugging percentage, 11th and 12th in OBP and 13th and 14th in home runs hit. The real difference for the White Sox is that they’ve found a true ace in Lucas Giolito who is having an elite season and they’ve gotten slightly better relief pitching, though the peripherals show that they’ve actually had quite similar bullpens. The result is the Royals are five games worse than their Pythagorean record while the White Sox are five games better.

Meet the White Sox

Royals vs. White Sox Tale of the Tape

Category Royals White Sox
Category Royals White Sox
Winning % .368 .441
Team wRC+ 83 89
Team xFIP 4.91 4.87
Run Differential -151 -139
H2H Wins 8 8
H2H Runs 73 65
Highest fWAR Hunter Dozier, 3.5 Lucas Giolito, 4.9

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 RF 561 .277 .309 .379 3.4% 23.4% 83 1.3
Tim Anderson SS 446 .334 .354 .515 2.5% 20.9% 131 3.1
Jose Abreu 1B 610 .283 .331 .509 5.4% 21.6% 118 1.8
Yoan Moncada 3B 483 .297 .355 .523 7.9% 27.5% 131 4.6
James McCann C 431 .274 .328 .457 6.0% 28.8% 108 2.1
Eloy Jimenez LF 433 .249 .298 .468 5.8% 26.8% 100 0.6
Zack Collins DH 47 .105 .277 .237 19.1% 44.7% 48 -0.2
Yolmer Sanchez 2B 485 .253 .319 .325 8.0% 21.2% 76 1.1
Adam Engel CF 189 .219 .298 .320 6.9% 30.2% 69 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 224 .205 .268 .390 6.7% 29.9% 73 -1.0
Matt Skole 1B/3B 70 .238 .300 .270 8.6% 35.7% 57 -0.3
Ryan Goins INF 154 .259 .346 .363 11.0% 27.3% 94 0.5
Danny Mendick INF 14 .357 .357 .571 0.0% 14.3% 146 0.1
Ryan Cordell OF 225 .223 .277 .351 5.8% 28.9% 67 -0.2
Daniel Palka OF 61 .019 .131 .019 9.8% 37.7% -53 -1.3

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 54 54.0 4 3 21.4% 9.8% 2.50 4.72 0.6
Aaron Bummer 49 57.0 0 0 22.4% 9.4% 2.21 3.63 0.9
Evan Marshall 46 41.0 4 2 18.7% 9.9% 3.07 4.64 0.3

Probable Starting Pitchers

Tuesday September 10th - 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jakob Junis 29 167.2 9 12 21.3% 7.3% 4.94 4.57 1.7
Ivan Nova 29 167.0 9 12 13.7% 5.9% 4.69 4.99 1.6

The White Sox picked up Ivan Nova to have a veteran in the rotation to step into the James Shields role from a season ago, and for a long time, it sure looked like a disaster. He had an ERA of 8.42 at the end of April, 6.52 at the end of May and 5.92 at the end of June. He’s coming off a really bad start in Cleveland, but since the end of June, he’s 6-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 12 starts. He doesn’t strike anyone out, but he also doesn’t walk many and that’s been no different over the last couple months. The biggest change is he was getting roasted by hits and home runs early and that’s calmed down a bit since. He still gives up plenty of hits and he interestingly enough has basically zero platoon split. The big issue that causes the lack of strikeouts is he just has no putaway pitch. Opponents are still hitting .250 with a .413 SLG with two strikes on them. AL average is .176 with a .293 SLG. But he is a guy who can have games with an insanely low pitch count because he’s going to throw strikes and if the batted balls aren’t falling, he can get through six or seven in a hurry. He’s 0-1 against the Royals this year with a 6.60 ERA in three starts, and that includes giving up just one run over five innings in that rain game that never should have been started, so they’ve mostly gotten to him this season. A good enough game in this one, though, and he might find his way onto Dayton Moore’s 2020 radar, so it’s imperative that the offense breaks through.

Jakob Junis probably shouldn’t have started the eighth inning against Detroit in his last start as allowing the one batter he faced to reach led him to give up an extra run and made his line look a little worse, but he did pitch well. He’s now allowed exactly four runs in his last three starts, which isn’t good but is kind of impressive. In all, he’s been mostly fine since the break witha 4.26 ERA and just eight home runs in allowed in 61.1 innings, which is quite good for him. He’s a little like Nova in that he gives up some hits, but he also actually strikes hitters out and has similarly good control. For some reason, it feels like he hasn’t gotten nearly as many swings and misses this year, but his swinging strike rate is basically on par with last season, so I’m not sure what that’s about. He’s 3-1 with a 4.58 ERA in six career starts against the White Sox and has a 4.91 ERA in two starts at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Wednesday September 11th - 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Glenn Sparkman 27 117.2 3 11 13.0% 6.5% 5.97 5.82 -0.6
Reynaldo Lopez 29 162.0 9 12 21.0% 8.5% 5.17 5.33 2.5

Reynaldo Lopez has had a generally tough season after what seemed like he might be trending in the right direction last year. But he’s coming off his best start of the year against Cleveland in which he allowed just one run on one hit and struck out 11 in a complete game effort. He had 20 swinging strikes, which tied his season high and was generally just fantastic. And if you want an arbitrary endpoint of the last time he faced the Royals, he’s posted a 4.08 ERA with just 10 home runs allowed since and including that start, which spans 16 starts and 92.2 innings. So he’s really been okay, but that terrible start is just dragging him down. He’s struggled with control against lefties and with giving up the extra base hit to righties with a .206 ISO allowed. That’s good news for Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier. And he’s also generally fallen apart when facing a lineup for a third time with a .307/.387/.540 line allowed. It didn’t work for the Indians, but that’s a nice thing to fall back on if he’s dominating early.

Of course, it may not matter how the offense fares with Glenn Sparkman on the mound. Let’s just say it’s not getting better for him. The Tigers, who have hit the fewest home runs in the American League by far, were able to get three in one inning against him in his last start. Since moving into the rotation full time, he’s allowed 25 home runs in 93 innings over 18 starts. He’s struck out just 51 and walked 27. He has a 6.77 ERA. Everything is as bad as it looks with him. I still think with his velocity that he can be a solid contributor as a middle reliever, but this starting thing just isn’t working out for him. But there’s a silver lining inside this cloud. The last time he faced the White Sox, he absolutely dominated them. He had 18 swinging strikes in his shutout. He walked just one and gave up just five singles. Since then, he has an ERA of 8.32 with 62 hits allowed in 44.1 innings and just 26 strikeouts and 13 home runs. Woof.

Thursday September 12th - 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jorge Lopez 35 104.0 3 7 21.7% 8.3% 6.23 4.50 0.1
Lucas Giolito 28 170.2 14 8 31.7% 8.2% 3.27 3.74 4.9

And in their third straight Thursday afternoon game, the Royals finish the series by facing Lucas Giolito. We all know the story by this point. The stuff is back and the results are what everyone expected years ago. It feels like he’s so post-hype in his breakout that he has to be like 28 or 29, but he’s just 25 years old, which is kind of surprising actually. As good as he’s been, he’s kind of been the opposite of Lopez, living off the early season greatness with scarily similar end results. And it’s not that he’s been bad since, but after going 7.2 shutout innings against the Royals on June 8th, he’s been much more human. He’s 5-7 with a 4.05 ERA in his last 16 starts spanning 95.2 innings.

The big difference between he and Lopez is that he’s struck out 127 in those starts, which is stellar. The home run ball has been a bit of a problem for him, but other than that, everything looks great with a superb 16 percent swinging strike rate. Of course, cut that in half, and the last eight starts of that 16 start stretch are excellent with a 2.72 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 53 innings. So the moral of this story is that Giolito has been better than projected this year while maybe not actually being as good lately as the hype from the early season would lead you to believe.

If there’s an opposite to a breakout pitcher, it’s probably Jorge Lopez, who has just broken. It’s both easy and difficult to see why he doesn’t succeed because the stuff is clearly there, but he just can’t locate often enough and ends up getting himself in trouble far too often. But because of that stuff, he can occasionally throw a gem. His last start in Miami was fantastic. He threw six shutout innings with 11 swinging strikes in 95 pitches. He gave up just four runs, didn’t walk anyone and struck out five. Truthfully, you just never know what you’re going to get with him. He hasn’t been great against the White Sox this year, but did strike out 10 in six innings against them in Chicago on April 16th, so he has that in his back pocket at least, which is, well, something.


The Royals have spent the last three series playing the three teams with a worse record than them. And they did what they needed to do, winning all three series and even having a shot at a sweep in the last two before losing the finale. The White Sox are probably more on par with the Royals and definitely have the pitching edge in this series, so I think they end up taking two of three from the Royals, but it’ll hopefully at least be a competitive one while we wait for the next Chiefs game on Sunday.


Who takes this matchup in the windy city?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Royals Sweep
    (7 votes)
  • 18%
    White Sox Sweep
    (14 votes)
  • 26%
    Royals Win Two of Three
    (20 votes)
  • 46%
    White Sox Win Two of Three
    (35 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now