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Chicago White Sox Series Preview: Royals are changing their sox yet again

The penultimate series between these two teams in 2022 should be a doozy.

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

The Royals just played the White Sox last week in Chicago, so I won’t waste too much time here. After taking two of three from the Royals, they split their four-game set with the Rangers. They did get Luis Robert back from the IL, which really helps their lineup out quite a bit. With him, Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu seeming to fire on all cylinders right now, they’re hitting a bit and if they can get their starting pitching on track other than Dylan Cease and Johnny Cueto, who will both go in this series, they might be able to make a run and actually do what they were supposed to do in winning the division. It’s a big if for a team that hasn’t been more than two games to the good or bad of .500 since July 12 but they obviously have the talent to not only win the division but to run away and hide.

Royals vs. White Sox Matchup Stats

Category Royals White Sox
Category Royals White Sox
Winning % .404 .509
H2H Wins 5 6
Team wRC+ 95 99
Team xFIP 4.49 3.93
Run Differential -122 -12
Highest fWAR Bobby Witt Jr., 1.9 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
AJ Pollock LF 325 .238 .386 .354 6.2% 20.6% 82 -0.1
Luis Robert CF 337 .299 .335 .456 4.5% 19.0% 126 2.3
Eloy Jimenez DH 128 .286 .320 .462 4.7% 24.2% 121 0.5
Jose Abreu 1B 461 .300 .380 .470 10.4% 15.2% 145 3.4
Andrew Vaughn RF 364 .298 .349 .464 5.8% 15.7% 132 0.8
Yoan Moncada 3B 252 .198 .262 .315 7.1% 28.2% 64 0.3
Yasmani Grandal C 249 .193 .289 .243 12.0% 22.5% 58 -0.5
Leury Garcia SS 273 .216 .240 .282 2.6% 20.1% 46 -0.9
Josh Harrison 2B 277 .241 .309 .373 5.8% 16.2% 97 1.1

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 123 .268 .306 .393 4.9% 32.5% 98 0.9
Lenyn Sosa INF/OF 13 .083 .154 .167 7.7% 23.1% -11 -0.1
Adam Engel OF 201 .245 .294 .351 5.5% 27.9% 83 0.3
Gavin Sheets OF/1B 259 .227 .286 .387 6.6% 20.1% 92 -0.6

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 37 37.2 2 3 36.6% 5.9% 3.11 2.47 1.0
Kendall Graveman 46 46.2 3 2 22.9% 9.3% 2.70 3.47 0.4
Joe Kelly 26 23.1 1 2 29.6% 13.9% 5.40 3.06 0.3

Royals vs. White Sox Probable Pitching Matchups

August 9 - RHP Lance Lynn vs. RHP Brady Singer, 3:10pm (Game One)

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Lance Lynn 10 53.2 2 4 24.4% 4.3% 5.87 3.38 0.4
Brady Singer 17 90.2 4 4 25.4% 5.9% 3.67 3.24 1.6

The series starts with Lynn facing the Royals for a second straight start. He went against them in the series finale on Wednesday in Chicago and was very good. He went six innings with just a run on four hits allowed. He struck out eight and didn’t walk anyone. I mentioned last week that he’s been struggling this year, but he’s now been very good in two of his last three starts so maybe he’s turning a corner. That said, it’s now three good starts out of 10 for him and in the previous two good starts, he followed it up with a clunker, so maybe he’ll do that in this one.

Career vs. KC: 12 GS, 73.2 IP, 7-2, 3.30 ERA

This is a big start for Brady Singer, in my opinion anyway. He was lights out against the Rays and then the Yankees in his first two starts after the break, but then he wasn’t nearly as good against the White Sox last week in that same start where Lynn pitched. But on the bright side, while he had subpar command, he only walked one batter and he made it through six innings with four runs allowed. I suspect that if he has his good command back in this start that he’ll be in a much better position against a White Sox lineup that likes to swing and can be prone to some strikeouts. Don’t forget that this is the same team he dominated in his first start back from AAA back in May. Singer is in a stretch where he’ll get a real chance to show changes as he gets the White Sox after just facing them followed by the Dodgers and then the Rays, who he handled quite well after the break.

Career vs. CHW: 7 G, 6 GS, 39.0 IP, 2-2, 3.23 ERA

August 9 - RHP Davis Martin vs. RHP Jonathan Heasley, 30ish Minutes After Game One (Game Two)

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Davis Martin 7 30.1 1 3 18.0% 7.0% 4.75 4.20 0.2
Jonathan Heasley 12 55.2 1 6 16.1% 11.0% 5.82 5.50 -0.4

Davis Martin was part of the famed 2018 draft class, going in the 14th round to the White Sox. He’s gotten sporadic big league work throughout the year with his last appearance coming on July 29th in a long relief outing against the A’s. He pitched well in AA before jumping to AAA and maintaining basically identical peripherals but the ERA jumped quite a bit. He’s shown a fairly pedestrian fastball in the big leagues without many whiffs and a .326 average and .488 SLG against it. His slider is a pitch he throws about 35 percent of the time and it may not be a bad idea to use it more as he has a whiff rate of nearly 50 percent on it and has allowed a .189 average. It’s a legitimate weapon for him. For whatever reason, maybe it’s his changeup, he has actually dominated lefties in a small sample, but righties have hit him hard. Going with some of the righty bats over a lefty or two might not be a bad idea here.

Career vs. KC: 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 0-1, 1.80 ERA

Jonathan Heasley has had his moments this season. But since his great start against the Orioles on June 10th, he has been a disaster. He’s thrown 23.1 innings in six starts with an ERA of 8.87. In that time, he’s allowed 33 hits with 19 strikeouts and 10 walks. Some of that was his shoulder issue that put him on the IL, but some of it has just been some rough pitching. He did come back for a start after the injury, but I don’t think he would have if the Royals didn’t have a glaring need. He’s made one start since being sent down and struck out eight with one walk in 4.2 innings, so that’s a nice step back to getting back to being a potential part of the future.

Career vs. CHW: 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 0-1, 5.40 ERA

August 10 - RHP Johnny Cueto vs. LHP Kris Bubic, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Johnny Cueto 15 96.0 4 5 16.6% 5.7% 2.91 4.26 1.2
Kris Bubic 18 80.1 2 6 18.8% 11.2% 5.27 4.55 0.1

The White Sox signed Cueto for depth, but then they needed it. He made his debut for the year against the Royals the first game after they had replaced Terry Bradshaw with Alec Zumwalt and Mike Tosar and he dominated. He shut out the Yankees over six innings in his next start and while he hasn’t been quite as good as not allowing any runs, he’s still posted a 3.32 ERA since in 84 innings. No, he doesn’t strike anyone out with just 52 in that time, but he’s also only walked 18. In classic Cueto fashion, he’s mixed five pitches pretty well. His sinker and cutter have been hit hard, but he’s handled hitters pretty well with the rest of his pitch mix. For someone who is on the back side of his career, he’s doing a great job of giving the White Sox innings. He’s gone at least 5.1 innings in every start and has gone 48 innings in his last seven starts. That’s pretty impressive.

Career vs. KC: 5 GS, 30.2 IP, 1-3, 3.82 ERA

While Kris Bubic pitched better when he came back from Omaha, he’s kicked it to another level over his last four starts specifically. He’s gone at least six innings in all four and has walked just six batters in 26 innings. In his last start, he gave up two runs on two hits to the first three batters he faced, but then settled down and handled the Red Sox quite well. And while he wasn’t this good when he first came back from Omaha, he now has thrown 67 innings over 12 starts since he’s been back with a 3.76 ERA, 4.12 FIP and has a nearly two to one strikeout to walk ratio. If he can continue to utilize his fastball effectively, it allows his changeup to play up, which can allow him to pitch well against a rigthy-heavy lineup like the White Sox have.

Career vs. CHW: 6 G, 5 GS, 34.0 IP, 0-3, 2.91 ERA

August 11 - RHP Dylan Cease vs. RHP Zack Greinke, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Dylan Cease 22 122.2 12 4 32.8% 10.5% 1.98 3.12 3.5
Zack Greinke 18 92.1 3 7 13.1% 5.1% 4.58 4.60 0.9

The Royals will have their hands full with Cease. He’s allowed one earned run or fewer in 13 straight starts, which is the longest streak in history. He’s actually allowed one run or fewer (earned or not) in 10 straight starts. In those 13 starts without an earned run, which started after he allowed seven to the Red Sox, he has 95 strikeouts in 76 innings with 34 walks, 47 hits allowed and a 0.59 ERA. He’s doing it by throwing his slider more than ever and opponents are hitting a ridiculous .121 against it. His fastball, curve and changeup have all been hit anywhere from reasonably well to hard but that slider has been so good that it doesn’t matter. Oh and he has a 1.33 ERA on the road, so this isn’t a great situation for the Royals offense.

Career vs. KC: 11 GS, 60.1 IP, 4-2, 2.69 ERA

It seems like Zack Greinke has had a great fastball, in spite of velocity, a few times lately. In his last start against the Red Sox, I don’t think it was great. The results weren’t horrible, but it allowed the Red Sox to sit on his curve and they handled it well. He’s also backed off his cutter a little bit lately, which is interesting because it’s a pitch he threw so well for a few starts after he came back from his injury. On one hand, he hasn’t had much of a platoon split righty vs. lefty, but he does have a 2.23 ERA at home this year with only one home run allowed. And a White Sox team that doesn’t walk very much could end up getting carved up by him for a few innings before he tires out.

Career vs. CHW: 30 G, 27 GS, 182.2 IP, 9-10, 3.94 ERA

Royals vs. White Sox Prediction

It’s always tough to sweep a doubleheader either way, so I think that’s a split and then the two teams split the final two games as well to end with a series split. I’m a bit concerned about what Cease can do to some of the Royals young hitters, but he does have some control problems at times and many of the Royals younger bats actually know how to work a count, so maybe they can at least get him out early enough to steal the game.


What’s the result of this upcoming series with the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Royals sweep.
    (5 votes)
  • 21%
    Royals take three of four.
    (28 votes)
  • 51%
    Split down the middle.
    (68 votes)
  • 19%
    White Sox take three of four.
    (26 votes)
  • 3%
    White Sox sweep.
    (5 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now