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White Sox Series Preview: These guys again?

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It feels like just last week these two teams met.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

While the Royals just saw the Chicago White Sox in Kansas City last week and took three of four from them, they have made a couple changes with the deadline just passed, so they have a slightly different look. They acquired Ryan Tepera while they were still in Kansas City, but he didn’t get to the team until after they left. The bigger fish they acquired was Craig Kimbrel on Friday and he’s already pitched a couple times for them to help take their bullpen to the next level. They picked up Cesar Hernandez to play second while they were in Kansas City, but he also didn’t make it before the end of the series. They also lost Billy Hamilton to the IL, which is no great loss offensively, but he made a couple nice plays in center field in Kansas City, so they will probably miss his defense some. It’s a good thing they have a swing and miss pitching staff because that outfield defense has a chance to be rough until Luis Robert can come back, which sounds like it won’t be during this series.

We know what their offense is capable of, especially if Eloy Jimenez is back in there. He came back in Kansas City, but hurt his groin and hasn’t played the last four games for them. And they’re a bit of a different team at home than on the road, hitting .256/.343/.430 at Guaranteed Rate Field and .245/.324/.397 on the road. With the addition of Hernandez, they added a bit of a different element to their team with a little extra pop at second base and a good defender to pair with Tim Anderson up the middle. On the pitching side, that’s going to be what carries them if they make the playoffs. The Royals are lucky enough to miss Lance Lynn again, but that doesn’t mean they have it easy because all five of the White Sox starters can throw a gem at any given time. And now that their bullpen has reinforcements to pair with Liam Hendriks and Michael Kopech, you better hope you get to the starter because it’s going to be tough to come back against them.

Royals vs. White Sox Tale of the Tape

Category Royals White Sox
Category Royals White Sox
Winning % .433 .585
Team wRC+ 89 109
Team xFIP 4.52 3.85
Run Differential -92 112
H2H Wins 6 7
Highest fWAR Nicky Lopez, 2.3 Carlos Rodon, 3.7

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 394 .296 .329 .432 4.6% 22.0% 110 2.7
Cesar Hernandez 2B 434 .237 .311 .429 9.0% 21.2% 101 1.9
Jose Abreu 1B 423 .242 .333 .449 9.2% 23.4% 116 1.4
Yoan Moncada 3B 404 .263 .376 .404 14.4% 26.5% 123 3.0
Eloy Jimenez DH 11 .182 .182 .455 0.0% 18.2% 67 0.1
Gavin Sheets RF 93 .229 .301 .506 9.7% 20.4% 118 0.1
Andrew Vaughn LF 330 .258 .321 .444 7.6% 23.0% 111 0.9
Brian Goodwin CF 156 .248 .335 .453 11.5% 22.4% 119 0.7
Zack Collins C 177 .208 .330 .356 14.7% 29.9% 95 -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
Seby Zavala C 40 .235 .316 .559 7.5% 35.0% 137 0.4
Leury Garcia INF/OF 319 .245 .319 .342 9.4% 23.5% 87 1.1
Adam Engel OF 91 .269 .363 .564 8.8% 16.5% 153 1.0

White Sox Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Liam Hendriks 47 47.1 5 2 41.7% 2.8% 2.47 2.44 1.6
Craig Kimbrel 41 38.2 2 3 46.2% 9.1% 0.47 2.04 2.2
Ryan Tepera 45 44.0 0 2 29.2% 7.6% 3.07 3.64 0.8

Probable Starting Pitchers

Tuesday - Kris Bubic vs. Dylan Cease, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Kris Bubic 18 74.2 3 4 18.7% 11.2% 4.58 4.82 -0.2
Dylan Cease 21 108.2 7 6 29.3% 9.3% 4.14 3.96 2.5

Dylan Cease is such an interesting pitcher to me because it feels like he’ll only go as far as his control will take him, but since May 27, he’s walked more than two batters in just one of his 12 starts and he’s been thoroughly mediocre with a 4.83 ERA and basically a hit per inning and slightly too many home runs. Maybe he’s one of those pitchers who needs to throw fewer strikes, which would sort of make sense with how good his stuff is. He can get chases, so there’s no need to be in the zone that often. He gave up three runs (two earned) in six innings against the Royals last week in the only game the Royals lost during the series, but he was out before the White Sox launched their eighth inning attack on the Royals.

Kris Bubic’s up and down season continued as he’s now thrown exactly six innings in each of his last three outings. He’s been very consistent in those last three, but this season has been a rollercoaster for him. But the mission is the same for him in this start against the White Sox as it was in last week’s start. Work the changeup. He worked it last week and only gave up two runs over six innings. The White Sox didn’t hit much hard off him in general, but his changeup had them reaching quite a bit even though he only got four whiffs on it. If he can get that working, the righty-heavy lineup will find themselves in some trouble. But if he hangs it like he did for a few starts, it could get really ugly, really fast.

Wednesday - Carlos Hernandez vs. Lucas Giolito, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Carlos Hernandez 15 34.1 2 1 27.5% 14.4% 4.98 4.78 0.3
Lucas Giolito 21 125.0 8 7 28.4% 7.7% 3.67 3.80 2.7

It’s kind of funny that the narrative surrounding Lucas Giolito is that he’s a true ace and all that. The reason it’s funny is not because I don’t get it. When you watch him pitch, it’s obvious that he can be absolutely filthy. But he has a 3.51 ERA the last three years over 374 innings. That’s very good, but it’s not great. ERA isn’t the best indicator, of course, but he has a 3.51 FIP as well in that time. He also has a 3.59 SIERA. So it’s pretty accurate what he is, which is a very, very good, but not quite great pitcher. And that’s okay! But he has been pretty great lately, allowing exactly one run in each of his last three starts and two in the start before that. In his last start, he held the Royals to one run on four hits in six innings. He carried a no-hitter into the middle innings before the Royals broke through and ended up tying the game against Hendriks in the ninth and winning it in the tenth. He has owned the Royals in his career, going 8-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 16 career starts. He’s given up more than three runs in a start against the Royals twice in those 16 starts.

The story for Carlos Hernandez is pretty basic, as we’ve said so many times. If he throws strikes, he’s probably going to be good. If he doesn’t, he’s probably not. His last start was against the White Sox and he threw six shutout innings with a 63 percent strike rate. He also had 15 called strikes, which is the most he’s had in any of his 20 career outings. He’s thrown more innings against the White Sox than anyone (nine) and has been pretty decent against them. One thing I noted last week is that the White Sox haven’t been great against high velocity, so if he’s able to control his fastballs, he has a chance to have another really good outing in this one.

Thursday - Daniel Lynch vs. Dallas Keuchel, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Daniel Lynch 5 22.0 1 3 13.0% 7.0% 6.95 5.04 0.4
Dallas Keuchel 21 113.2 7 4 14.6% 7.2% 4.51 4.43 0.3

Dallas Keuchel came into July having a slightly down year, but nothing too crazy. He was doing his typical solid work in limiting home runs with just 11 allowed in 86.1 innings and while he wasn’t really limiting hits in general, he’s had plenty of years where he hasn’t done that and he’s still been successful. Strikeouts were down a touch, but he’s never really been a strikeout guy anyway. Since July started, though, he turned into a mess, allowing nine home runs in 27.1 innings. Is this just a matter of some bad luck with fly balls? I don’t think so. His average exit velocity since the start of July is 92.6 MPH. Prior to that it was 86.4 MPH. So whatever is happening for him isn’t working. He gave up four runs in six innings against the Royals with three home runs allowed in Kansas City last week, though two were to Jorge Soler.

Daniel Lynch had an outstanding first start back from Omaha after his disastrous big league debut in May. He went eight shutout innings against the Tigers. His reward was getting to be the first opposing pitcher in Toronto since September of 2019. Tough crowd. And it was a tough game against a very good lineup that does well against lefties. He struggled a bit in the second and third, but it was really encouraging how much he settled down in the fourth through sixth to get through six innings with just three runs allowed against that very good lineup in that tough spot. Now he faces another test. The White Sox were the team that really beat him up in his first big league stay. He couldn’t even get out of the first against them, so this is a big test for him as well.

Prediction

I know the Royals just handled the White Sox relatively easily in Kauffman Stadium last week, but they’re such a different team on the road and the White Sox offense is so much better at home that I just don’t love the Royals chances this series. I’m going to predict one win here, but I don’t think it’d be surprising if they got swept.

Poll

Can the Royals maintain the winning ways against the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Yes they can, with a sweep.
    (6 votes)
  • 16%
    They can win another series, they’ll take two of three.
    (18 votes)
  • 44%
    As in a game? Sure. But only one win.
    (47 votes)
  • 33%
    Nope, they’ll get swept on the road again.
    (35 votes)
106 votes total Vote Now