The Royals play host to the Chicago White Sox in the last four games they’ll see against a team from Chicago, which is good considering they’re 2-8 against that city this season. The White Sox were riding very high when the Royals came to town last weekend and though they didn’t sweep, they took care of business. They’ve cooled off over the last couple days, scoring three runs in two losses to the Twins, but they’re still in a great position for the postseason with that young offense that can really hit (though they don’t walk much) and a pitching staff that has some holes but has overall been very good. The Royals missed both Dallas Keuchel and Lucas Giolito last weekend, but won’t be so lucky in this series as they’ll get them both, which with a struggling offense seems like an even more daunting task than before. One thing I’d like to note is that Nick Madrigal is hitting a robust .389 with a whole lot of singles and an average exit velocity on his nine hits since returning of 80.3 MPH. That seems...unsustainable.
Royals vs. White Sox Tale of the Tape
|Highest fWAR||Whit Merrifield, 0.9||Lucas Giolito, 1.6|
White Sox Projected Lineup
White Sox Projected Bench
White Sox Key Relievers
Projected Pitching Matchups
Thursday, 7:05pm - Dylan Cease vs. Danny Duffy
The Royals get another look at Dylan Cease after really working him hard in the game last weekend against him. They walked six times in 4.1 innings but were only able to score once on one hit, a home run. He actually had another start like that against Cleveland earlier this year where he went five scoreless and walked five, so he might have some sort of vague skill in working around walks. In both his starts against the Royals, he’s allowed home runs to Alex Gordon, and Gordon has looked pretty good at the plate recently so that’s a plus in this one. As we said last week, the stuff looks like he should be getting a lot more whiffs than he does, but at some point you feel like he’ll figure that out. An approach that might benefit the Royals is if they work right field a little more than they have in previous matchups as most of his pitches end up glove side off the plate a bit. A guy like Whit Merrifield could put a big day just going to right-center against Cease.
Danny Duffy continues to pitch pretty well this season with a lot of strikeouts and not very many walks and limiting hits well. I’m not so sure he would be handled this way in a full season, but the Royals getting him out of games quickly seems to be a huge boost for him on the mound, similar to Jake Odorizzi with the Twins. He’s pitched into the sixth inning just twice and completed it only once, but that’s okay because he’s giving the Royals what they need to stay in games. His slider has stayed nasty with an increased spin rate that has led to opponents swinging and missing about as much but they’re driving the ball into the ground much more with his average launch angle dropping from 17 degrees last year to -1 degrees this season. That’s huge for him to be able to get a ground ball or a swing and miss when he needs it. He wasn’t wonderful against the White Sox last weekend, but did strike out six in 5.2 innings and only walked one.
Friday, 7:05pm - Dane Dunning vs. Brady Singer
The Royals have to contend with Dane Dunning again after he was masterful against them in Chicago, throwing five hitless innings before the bullpen gave up a couple runs that got him the no-decision. He isn’t a flame thrower like Cease, but rather works in the low-90s with his sinker and four-seam fastball. His slider, though, was the difference maker against the Royals with a whiff rate of 87.5 percent and five of his seven strikeouts came on that pitch. He threw just 79 pitches but got 14 swings and misses, and that’s no fluke. In his first start against Detroit, he threw just 73 pitches with 17 swings and misses. Now the plus side is that the Royals have seen him, so maybe they’ll be able to jump on him, but even if they improve some against him, he’s still in for a really good start in this one. He has been better against righties than lefties in his career, which is never great for the Royals lineup that relies so much on right-handed bats.
Brady Singer, like Duffy, was fine against the White Sox last weekend, but the numbers weren’t great. He gave up three runs on five hits and another homer over five innings. He only had nine swings and misses in 95 pitches and generally was just okay, which has really been the case since his first two nice starts of the season. I think that’s fine for him. The changeup hasn’t been as advertised. The Royals talked it up like it had improved and it really hasn’t to this point, but Singer is one of those pitchers who I think might benefit from some failure and given the way he works, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come to spring training next year with an actually improved third pitch. His slider looks nasty at times, but he hangs it too much. His fastball moves like crazy, but he can’t command it sometimes. There’s a lot to be desired here, but the stuff looks good enough that he can both figure it out with some offseason work and look dominant on any given day.
Saturday, 6:05pm - Lucas Giolito vs. Kris Bubic
The Royals are tasked with beating Lucas Giolito in this one, which they couldn’t even do before he was good, so let’s just say I’m not really confident. In his first five starts, I was honestly thinking he was sort of in a Matthew Boyd type situation where he gets a lot of strikeouts and you think he’s really good, but he’s not actually that good. He had a 4.88 ERA and had walked 15 in 27.2 innings. Apparently me thinking that made him angry as he fired off 13 strikeouts in back to back games, including a no-hitter. But then in his last start, he was back to just okay with four runs allowed in five innings to the Twins. So I honestly don’t know what to make of him. He can obviously be one of the most dominant arms in the game, but sometimes it’s just not there for him. Typically when it’s not there, it’s because of walks, which the Royals have done pretty well with recently, so that gives them a chance here, but his track record against the Royals suggests that we shouldn’t hold our breath.
Dane Dunning was awesome against the Royals on Sunday, but Kris Bubic looked awfully good against the White Sox himself in that one, and now he gets to go up against one of the best. He went over 100 pitches for the first time in his big league career and pitched into the sixth for the second time. He had 14 swings and misses and eight strikeouts and looked like a guy you can really dream on. His changeup was particularly nasty, getting whiffs on more than half of swings against it and allowing just two hits. The White Sox are really, really good against lefties too, so all of what he did seems even better when you put it in that light. I’m a little worried about what a second straight start can do for him, but I’m excited to see how he throws after such a nice outing in his last one.
Sunday, 1:05pm - Dallas Keuchel vs. Brad Keller
It’s a ground ball battle royale in this one with Dallas Keuchel going for the White Sox. He’s been awesome for the White Sox in his first eight starts with a great ERA and tons of innings (for 2020 anyway). He hasn’t struck out many, but he’s got his walk rate back down to where it was when he was in his best seasons, and that’s been huge for him. His ground ball tendencies have been very good for him with just two home runs allowed all season, though one was to Ryan McBroom, so maybe he can work his magic again in this one, you know, if he gets a chance to play. The thing Keuchel is doing so well this year is really limiting the hard contact. He ranks in the 77th percentile in hard hit percentage and the 73rd in barrel percentage allowed, and that’s what he has to do if he’s going to maintain his low strikeout rates. He’s 5-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 10 career starts against the Royals and has only allowed more than two runs in a game once this season, so this’ll be tough.
But the Royals are countering him with the right guy in Brad Keller. Outside of one rough start, he’s been fantastic in his other four, allowing just one run on 11 hits in 24 innings. After a flurry of strikeouts early, he’s gone back to his previous levels, but has been so good at limiting extra base hits (still just one all season) that you can live without strikeouts. The White Sox are easily the best offense he’s faced this season, so this is a real test for him, but he’s handled them pretty well in his career with a 3.20 ERA in 56.1 career innings against them. With him, he’s not as good as Keuchel at eliciting the weak contact, but he does limit barrels incredibly well. Opponents have just three on him all season. He’s probably in over his head with an ERA under two, but he’s still been really good this season.
Four games against a team that’s given the Royals fits so far this year doesn’t seem like a very fun weekend. And I’m here to tell you that I don’t think it will be fun at all. I feel like the Royals can pull one of these out, but that’s it.
How does this series end?
This poll is closed
White Sox Sweep
Royals Win Three of Four
White Sox Win Three of Four