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Chicago White Sox Series Preview: Finally done with these underachievers

The White Sox have had their chances, but just can’t capitalize and now the Royals have a chance to maybe bury them before September.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Generally, predictions for who would win the AL East varied. There were multiple good answers. The AL West was pretty much always Houston. The NL West was pretty much always the Dodgers. The NL East was between the Mets and Braves. The NL Central was between the Cardinals and Brewers. I don’t think anyone varied much on the AL Central, though. Just about every single person who predicts things predicted the White Sox to win the AL Central. And yet here they sit, with just over a month left to play, under .500 and five full games out of first place with 34 left to play. It’s not a good situation in Chicago right now. We’ve seen them play enough to know the issues. They start with the manager, which, as a Royals fan, I hope they never fire him. But injuries may be the biggest culprit. They’re currently without Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Michael Kopech, Aaron Bummer and Garrett Crochet, all big parts of their team. At other times, they’ve been without Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Lance Lynn. The thing is that it all gets forgotten if they do something like go 24-10 the rest of the way and make the playoffs. But I just don’t see it happening. They have had so many chances to get back on track, but simply haven’t. They’re too inconsistent and too poorly run.

White Sox vs. Royals Matchup Stats

Category Royals White Sox
Category Royals White Sox
Winning % .403 .492
H2H Wins 9 7
Team wRC+ 93 100
Team xFIP 4.48 3.97
Run Differential -150 -43
Highest fWAR Brady Singer, 2.2 Jose Abreu & Dylan Cease, 3.5

White Sox Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Romy Gonzalez 2B 28 .240 .286 .320 7.1% 21.4% 70 0.0
Andrew Vaughn LF 438 .291 .340 .460 5.5% 16.0% 128 0.7
Luis Robert CF 378 .300 .336 .451 4.5% 18.3% 124 2.5
Jose Abreu 1B 546 .308 .385 .455 10.1% 16.3% 143 3.5
Eloy Jimenez DH 204 .300 .373 .450 9.8% 20.6% 138 1.0
Gavin Sheets RF 309 .255 .304 .420 5.8% 20.1% 105 -0.1
Elvis Andrus SS 423 .238 .298 .367 7.3% 16.3% 96 1.8
Josh Harrison 3B 345 .244 .309 .362 5.5% 15.9% 94 0.9
Seby Zavala C 166 .283 .354 .400 9.6% 31.3% 118 1.7

White Sox Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Carlos Perez C 4 .250 .250 .250 0.0% 0.0% 39 0.0
Leury Garcia INF/OF 293 .209 .234 .270 2.4% 20.5% 40 -1.0
Adam Engel OF 223 .230 .278 .325 4.9% 28.7% 71 0.1
AJ Pollock OF 401 .237 .284 .363 6.0% 19.2% 83 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
Liam Hendriks 45 45.0 2 3 35.9% 6.0% 3.20 2.65 1.0
Kendall Graveman 52 53.1 3 3 22.5% 9.5% 2.70 3.54 0.3
Joe Kelly 32 27.0 1 3 27.1% 14.0% 7.00 3.63 0.2

Royals vs. White Sox Projected Pitching Matchups

August 30 - RHP Brady Singer vs. RHP Lucas Giolito, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brady Singer 21 117.0 7 4 25.6% 6.2% 3.15 3.31 2.2
Lucas Giolito 23 122.2 10 7 25.3% 8.6% 5.14 3.67 1.3

Brady Singer Day has become a thing this season, and with good reason. The overall numbers are good enough that we don’t need to even do the thing where we look at what he’s done lately, but I’m going to do it anyway. Going back to the start of July, Singer has a 2.14 ERA in 63 innings over 10 starts. That includes a 28.7 percent strikeout rate and a 7.7 percent walk rate. Since the break, the ERA is 1.79 with a 29.3 percent strikeout rate and 6.3 percent walk rate in 45.1 innings over seven starts. He’s getting into the seventh inning on average with those peripherals. I’m not prepared to say he’s an ace in baseball, but he’s a top of the rotation starter. I didn’t think we’d see it, but he’s done it with all three pitches working. The sinker gets so many called strikes with the slider getting whiffs, but the changeup is the unsung hero. It isn’t a great pitch. It’s probably not even a good pitch. But it sets up the other two and the fact that he’s using it enough has allowed him to find the success he’s had. It’s been fun to watch. There may be a clunker or two throughout the rest of the season as he inevitably wears down with so many innings, but I’m sold on Singer.

Career vs. CHW: 8 G, 7 GS, 46.1 IP, 3-2, 2.91 ERA

Lucas Giolito has had a strange and tough year. In 2021, his strikeout rate dropped but so did his walk rate. But in 2022, the strikeout rate has dropped a bit and his walk rate is back to where it was during his 2020 season. But it’s that he’s been so hittable that’s been a concern. He’s allowing more hits than innings pitched for the first time since his first taste of the big leagues. His fastball velocity has remained down enough to matter throughout the season and his changeup, which has been good to lefties has been absolutely mauled by righties to the tune of a .387 average and .661 SLG. It’s never been quite as good against righties as lefties, but this is a new low for him. And it’s led to righties hitting .326/.382/.569 against him. He’s also been very vulnerable early, allowing a better than .900 OPS the first time through the order. And, for what it’s worth, while he has settled in the second time through, it jumps way back up to close to that the third time through. Giolito has to be ready for 2022 to end and start fresh next year.

Career vs. KC: 19 GS, 112.1 IP, 9-4, 3.45 ERA

August 31 - LHP Kris Bubic vs. RHP Lance Lynn, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Kris Bubic 22 99.1 2 9 18.3% 10.8% 5.62 4.57 0.4
Lance Lynn 14 77.1 3 5 25.2% 4.0% 5.00 3.31 0.7

Let’s start with the good news for Kris Bubic. He has a 4.50 ERA since being back from Omaha in early June but that comes with a 4.15 FIP, which is fine if you’re counting on him as your number four or five starter. Within that time, he’s also had probably the most elongated solid stretch of pitching in his career. And over his last nine starts, he has a 7.6 percent walk rate with a 3.86 FIP. But the last three starts are not helping a lot of those numbers. He’s allowed 27 hits in 13.1 innings in those last three starts, which seems impossible. Of those 27 hits, just two have been home runs and 19 have been singles, so there’s at least some insanely bad BABIP luck as it sits at .490, but I think he’s just struggling with location and getting too much of the plate. I suppose throwing strikes is better than what he was doing to start the season, but I’m not entirely sure how much better. It’s hard to really judge this stat because August was his first big league month in 2020, but he has a 6.28 career August ERA and a 2.47 career September ERA, so maybe the Royals can figure out a way to convince him August only has 30 days and this one is on September 1.

Career vs. CHW: 7 G, 6 GS, 39.2 IP, 0-3, 2.92 ERA

It’s been a tough season for Lance Lynn as well. He started it on the IL and didn’t debut until mid-June. He started very poorly, but he looks like he’s at least gotten back on track this month with a 2.73 ERA and 34 to three strikeout to walk numbers. His one start with more than two runs allowed was actually against the Royals. He also struck out eight Royals and walked none in a different start, so I don’t think it’s easy to just expect he’ll struggle against KC. Even with his velocity down, his four-seamer has still been a very good pitch for him this season with a 35.3 percent whiff rate and just a .343 SLG allowed. The issue has been the sinker. He hasn’t been throwing it for strikes as much, so it’s been easier to lay off, but when hitters do swing at it, they’re launching it. Lefties have been particularly tough on Lynn with a .783 OPS compared to .678 for righties this season. And maybe this is a function of him working his way back, but his biggest issues have come the third time through the order, which is obviously quite common, but his ability to stay at least effective the third time through in recent years has been a big part of his success.

Career vs. KC: 13 GS, 79.2 IP, 7-3, 3.50 ERA

September 1 - LHP Daniel Lynch vs. RHP Johnny Cueto, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Daniel Lynch 21 103.1 4 9 20.7% 9.2% 4.70 4.44 1.0
Johnny Cueto 19 123.2 6 6 15.4% 5.4% 2.98 4.39 1.6

Daniel Lynch made the greatest escape act of his young career on August 12. The Dodgers loaded the bases against him with nobody out in the fifth inning and he had Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith coming to the plate. It took him 15 pitches, but he walked off the mound after those three batters with all three runners stranded. In his next three starts, he allowed 11 runs on 21 hits in 15.2 innings with just eight strikeouts and six walks. I think he’s wearing down a bit down the stretch, but there’s a part of me that wonders if there was a letdown after getting out of that jam and giving it everything he had left in the tank to do it. I don’t know, maybe that’s just too simple, but I will say that after he gave up the fourth run in the third inning to the Padres on Saturday night, he buckled down and got back to looking like the guy who has shown that he can be a mainstay in a rotation at times. He gave up two hits to the final nine batters and got a double play in there while striking out three. I’m interested if he can build on the end of that outing to see if he can finish his first (almost) full big league season strong.

Career vs. CHW: 6 GS, 24.1 IP, 3-2, 6.66 ERA

Has there been a bigger surprise individual performance this season than Johnny Cueto? The White Sox signed him to a minor league deal before the season and he didn’t even debut until May 16 against the Royals. He went six shutout innings on the day the Royals had fired their hitting coach. He’s now made 18 starts with one relief appearance of five innings in the mix and he’s allowed more than three runs four times. That’s just crazy. He’s also fourth on the White Sox in starts and is five behind third and still has the second-most innings on the team. It’s unreal what he’s done. He is coming off his worst start of the year, where he allowed seven runs in five innings to Arizona and he hasn’t thrown this many innings since 2017, so you never know if there’s a bit of fatigue setting in for him. And it might be at least worth looking at the fact that he hasn’t been nearly as good at homes in a bit of a hitter friendly park. But regardless, it’s been fun to watch him pitch when he isn’t facing the Royals.

Career vs. KC: 6 GS, 36.2 IP, 1-3, 3.68 ERA

Royals vs. White Sox Prediction

The Royals have gone 13-10 at home since the break and 3-11 on the road, so while they’ve also gone 5-3 against the White Sox in that time, forgive me if I’m skeptical they can actually win a road series. I’m going to predict one win for the Royals, but it also feels like the White Sox are a bad break away from throwing in the towel completely, so I suppose you never know.


Will the Royals put the White Sox out of their misery?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Yep, with a soul-crushing sweep.
    (16 votes)
  • 27%
    Close, they’ll win two out of three.
    (32 votes)
  • 48%
    Not exactly, they’ll get one but the White Sox will keep the dream alive with a series win.
    (56 votes)
  • 9%
    Quite the opposite, the White Sox will sweep and get back on track.
    (11 votes)
115 votes total Vote Now