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Chicago White Sox Series Preview: These guys can hit

The White Sox have infiltrated #DongTown and they don’t look like they’re leaving.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Forever, it seems like we’ve heard about the Chicago White Sox and how good they’re going to be that it seemed like it would never happen. First of all, it hasn’t been nearly as long as it seems. And second of all, they’re here. We saw it starting last season when Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito broke out. We saw glimpses from guys like Eloy Jimenez and got excited about guys like Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease. Then they went out and they got the veteran fillers to supplement the roster with Dallas Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, etc. My thought was the short season was going to hurt them the most because it just seems like teams who have made a lot of moves in the past tend to take a little bit of time to ramp up. But here we are, about halfway through and they’re absolutely clicking. And if you like the White Sox offense, it does give some hope to an approach that doesn’t highlight walks as they have one of the worst walk rates in baseball. It helps when you hit home runs at a 2019 Twins pace, though.

Royals vs. White Sox Tale of the Tape

Category Royals White Sox
Category Royals White Sox
Winning % .387 .613
Team wRC+ 90 123
Team xFIP 4.75 3.91
Run Differential -18 41
H2H Wins 0 3
H2H Runs 9 23
Highest fWAR Whit Merrifield, 1.0 Lucas Giolito, 1.5

White Sox Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Tim Anderson SS 93 .345 .387 .644 5.4% 22.6% 179 1.2
Yoan Moncada 3B 126 .252 .333 .441 11.1% 28.6% 113 1.1
Yasmani Grandal C 96 .231 .354 .385 16.7% 30.2% 109 0.5
Jose Abreu 1B 134 .320 .366 .672 6.0% 19.4% 178 1.4
Eloy Jimenez LF 117 .315 .342 .631 4.3% 23.1% 160 1.1
Edwin Encarnacion DH 86 .182 .250 .429 5.9% 34.1% 82 0.0
Luis Robert CF 115 .276 .325 .543 7.0% 34.8% 133 1.2
Nomar Mazara RF 64 .246 .328 .298 7.8% 31.3% 81 0.1
Danny Mendick 2B 86 .266 .314 .443 7.0% 17.4% 105 0.4

White Sox Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
James McCann C 56 .347 .411 .531 5.4% 21.4% 160 0.7
Zack Collins C/1B 18 .063 .167 .125 11.1% 27.8% -14 -0.2
Ryan Goins INF 10 .000 .100 .000 10.0% 10.0% -66 -0.2
Adam Engel OF 56 .265 .304 .453 1.8% 21.4% 106 0.5
Jarrod Dyson OF 55 .157 .218 .157 7.3% 18.2% 7 -0.3

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 10 10.0 0 0 22.5% 5.0% 0.90 3.42 0.4
Evan Marshall 13 12.1 1 1 31.5% 9.3% 2.92 2.56 0.4
Jimmy Cordero 13 11.1 0 1 19.6% 5.9 3.97 4.09 0.2

Projected Pitching Matchups

August 28, 6:10pm - Danny Duffy vs. Reynaldo Lopez

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Danny Duffy 6 29.1 2 2 28.3% 7.5% 3.99 4.15 0.6
Reynaldo Lopez 2 4.0 0 1 19.1% 19.1% 13.50 7.82 -0.1

For all the White Sox success with developing their young players to become impact pieces, Reynaldo Lopez has pretty much missed that boat, which is unfortunate because his stuff, when on, was once as good as you’ll see. For whatever reason, the strikeouts just didn’t come with the stuff, though he did strike out more last year in a season where he gave up 200 plus hits in just 183 innings. He’s pitched twice this year and while neither has been good, he looked a little better in his last outing against the Twins when he gave up just one hit in 3.1 innings while striking out four. One area worth being concerned about, though, is that his fastball velocity is way down in his first two outings of the year. It could just be simply getting arm strength back up, but he’s averaging just 93.8 on his fastball in his first two outings after averaging 95.4 last year and 96.5 as recently as 2016. He’s also used his changeup considerably more in his first two starts this year and it was absolutely rocked last season. The Royals seem to struggle with a good changeup, but a guy like Ryan McBroom also doesn’t seem to have a problem hitting a mistake, so we’ll see where his changeups land in this one.

Danny Duffy was pushed back a couple days after some forearm tightness following his last start, but the Royals say he’s good to go. I’d be very cautious with him as he was topping out in the upper-80s in the fifth inning of his last start against the Twins. I was skeptical of his health when they pulled him so early, but thought that it was just due to Nelson Cruz coming up, but when they pushed his start back, it made more sense. His ERA isn’t that shiny, but he’s putting up his best season to date, and a lot of that is that Mike Matheny is putting him in a better position to succeed by not letting him face a lineup too many times. He’s striking out more than ever before and he’s showing better control while continuing to elicit weak contact. Duffy hasn’t faced the White Sox this year, but he has had some success against them throughout his career putting up solid seasons almost every year of his career against them.

August 29, 1:10pm - Brady Singer vs. Dylan Cease

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brady Singer 6 29.2 1 3 21.4% 9.5% 5.16 4.32 -0.1
Dylan Cease 6 31.2 4 2 16.4% 9.0% 3.13 5.55 -0.1

Dylan Cease was the beneficiary of Michael Kopech opting out of this season as he took his spot in the rotation and he’s risen to the occasion with the back of the card numbers. They don’t tell the entire story, though, so I’m expecting some regression from him in the near future. He’s not striking batters out and walking a few too many to get by while also giving up more home runs than you’d like. In his last four starts, he has a 1.93 ERA, which is sparkling but has just 17 strikeouts to 11 walks in that time. The four home runs allowed are actually an improvement on his season numbers, but still a few too many. But also, the stuff is really good, so there’s every chance in the world that he doesn’t regress because he starts utilizing his stuff better to maintain the results while improving the peripherals. He pairs outstanding velocity with an outstanding spin rate. His issues have come when he hangs his slider and when he throws his changeup. If he’s right, I wouldn’t be surprised by a double digit strikeout game. If he’s not right, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Royals hit three homers against him. It could really go either way.

Brady Singer had the unfortunate task of making each of his last three starts against the same team, and while the Twins haven’t been the offensive juggernaut they were last year, they can still hit. And he got worse each time. That’s not in any way surprising. He isn’t a guy you’d expect to struggle with home runs, but he gave up three in the last two games, spanning just 9.2 innings. His command just hasn’t been there in his last two starts and that’s led to him struggling. But he finally gets the chance to face a team that has never seen him, which should be a benefit to him if he’s able to locate that fastball up in the zone like he was earlier in the year. His biggest issue so far this season has been the command of the slider, in my opinion. When it’s good, it’s getting swings and misses (34.2 percent whiff rate), but he leaves it out over the plate way too much and without a good enough changeup to keep hitters off balance, they’re waiting on it. This White Sox offense is clicking right now and they’re licking their lips at the thought of one of those sliders, so he needs to be on to get back on track.

August 30, 1:10pm - Kris Bubic vs. Gio Gonzalez

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Kris Bubic 5 22.2 0 4 18.5% 9.7% 5.96 4.87 0.0
Gio Gonzalez 6 24.2 1 1 22.0% 11.0% 5.11 4.45 0.1

Gio Gonzalez has been perfectly fine for the White Sox, though he did have a brutal first outing that will likely stain his numbers all season long since there just isn’t that much time to bring them up. He’s thrown almost 100 pitches twice, but still hasn’t completed five innings in any of his outings. That’s who he is. He’ll run the pitch count up and occasionally will be so on point that he can get you through six or seven, but more often than not, his teams will need four innings or more from the bullpen. Unlike the first two starters in this series, he goes to his changeup to get out of trouble, not to get into it. He’s allowed just seven hits on that changeup this year and gets whiffs on 41 percent of swings against it. Even so, righties have done plenty of damage against him, so the Royals better hope Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier are hitting in this for them to have a chance.

Kris Bubic made his first start against the White Sox and made one mistake, but it was enough to lose the game. He gave up a three-run homer to light-hitting Adam Engel and that was enough to take the game for the White Sox. It’s been a mixed bag for him since, culminating with his worst start in his second straight start against the Twins. He gave up 11 baserunners in 3.1 innings and didn’t strike out a batter. He needs to be better than that. The White Sox have destroyed lefties. That’s not an understatement. As a team, they’re hitting .312/.388/.616, which is just insane. They’re loaded with right-handed mashers, so this would be a great time for Bubic to flash his very best changeup. And he’s capable of doing it. I’m not confident he will, but I’m confident he can, which is at least something.

Prediction

The Royals pitching staff is starting to get a little beat up and it’s coming at a bad time with the White Sox hitting so well lately. The Royals offense has a chance to hit a bit with the opponents they’re seeing in this one, but I’m just not sure it’ll be enough. I hate to say it, but I think this is a White Sox sweep.

Poll

Who takes this series?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Royals Sweep
    (5 votes)
  • 44%
    White Sox Sweep
    (33 votes)
  • 10%
    Royals Win Two of Three
    (8 votes)
  • 38%
    White Sox Win Two of Three
    (29 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now