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White Sox series preview: Can these teams bounce back?

The Royals and White Sox are playing better in May, but is it too little, too late?

Cleveland Guardians v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Royals have just three series wins all year, and only one against an American League team - the Chicago White Sox. The Royals took three of four from them at home just over a week ago, and will now travel to the Windy City for a weekend set.

The White Sox have been one of the biggest disasters in baseball this year, and vultures are circling the team hoping to pick off some talent for the trade deadline. The Central Division isn’t particularly good this year, and the adage is the pennant season doesn’t really begin until Memorial Day, but with the White Sox already 8 12 games back with third-worst record in baseball, they may be sunk already.

Kansas City Royals (14-31) at Chicago White Sox (16-29)

Three game series: May 19-21 from Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, IL

Royals: 4.04 runs scored/game (24th in MLB), 5.42 runs allowed/game (28th)

White Sox: 4.24 runs scored/game (22nd), 5.64 runs allowed/game (29th)

The offense has been hit hard with injuries, and the lineup is currently without infielder Elvis Andrus and outfielder Eloy Jiménez. Luis Robert Jr. has carried the offense, but he has already been benched for failing to hustle on a ground ball. Yoán Moncada has played well after missing the first five weeks with a back injury. There is some pop from Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets and Missouri State grad Jake Burger, although all three are defensively limited. All-Stars Tim Anderson and Andrew Benintendi have gotten off to dreadful starts, although both have begun hitting in the last week.

The White Sox have a dreadful defensive team, and are currently third-worst in Defensive Runs Above Average. Their best defender by the metrics is Luis Robert Jr., but he can lose focus on fly balls.

White Sox expected lineup and bench

Starting Lineup PA HR SB BA OBA SLG fWAR
Starting Lineup PA HR SB BA OBA SLG fWAR
SS Tim Anderson (R) 116 0 6 .264 .302 .309 -0.1
LF Andrew Benintendi (L) 173 0 5 .278 .341 .354 0.3
CF Luis Robert Jr. (R) 181 12 1 .273 .330 .564 1.7
3B Yoan Moncada (S) 62 2 1 .322 .355 .542 0.6
1B Andrew Vaughn (R) 192 5 0 .237 .323 .414 -0.1
RF Gavin Sheets (L) 108 6 0 .247 .315 .443 0.2
C Yasmani Grandal (S) 140 3 0 .294 .364 .437 0.4
DH Jake Burger (R) 93 10 0 .277 .344 .723 1.1
2B Hanser Alberto (R) 76 3 0 .232 .280 .420 -0.2
C Seby Zavala (R) 71 2 1 .162 .197 .265 -0.1
IF Romy Gonzalez (R) 36 0 1 .139 .139 .194 -0.6
OF Jake Marisnick (R) 2 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -0.1
OF Adam Haseley (L) 34 0 1 .258 .324 .323 0.1

White Sox pitching is a mess. Their starters have the fifth-highest strikeout rate but the fifth-highest walk rate. Michael Kopech has the fourth-highest walk rate among starters, and gave out six free passes in his last start. He has an electric fastball that averages 96 mph, but his slider has been wrecked this year. Lucas Giolito has easily been the best White Sox starter this year with one of the best fastballs in the league. He has pitched 6+ innings in each of his last seven starts. Lance Lynn has struggled this year, although he looked good his last time out with seven innings and no walks with one earned run against Cleveland. He can throw strikes but his curveball has been one of the worst in baseball this year.

The Royals have their Sunday starter listed as “TBA”. It would be Brad Keller’s turn in the rotation, and perhaps they are evaluating his arm after an eight-walk performance his last time out against San Diego. If he can’t go, the Royals could turn to Jackson Kowar or look to do another bullpen game.

Expected pitching matchups

Friday, May 19 - 7:10 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
Friday, May 19 - 7:10 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Zack Greinke 5.01 4.95 46.2 6.2 1.4 0.2
RHP Michael Kopech 5.74 7.31 42.1 8.7 6 -0.6
Saturday, May 20 - 1:10 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Jordan Lyles 7.14 6.39 51.2 6.6 3 -0.3
RHP Lucas Giolito 3.86 3.75 53.2 9.4 1.8 1.2
Sunday, May 21 - 1:10 CT ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Brad Keller 4.36 5.74 43.1 6.4 8.3 -0.2
RHP Lance Lynn 6.66 4.76 51.1 10.7 3 0.6

The White Sox bullpen stinks. They have the second-highest walk rate, the second-highest home run rate, and the second-highest ERA. They have allowed more than half of all inherited runners to score - most in baseball - and have lost five games when the team led going into the seventh inning. Reynaldo Lopez and Jimmy Lambert are in the bottom ten of all relievers in fWAR, and Aaron Bummer has the third-highest ERA. Minor league free agent Keynan Middleton has been a nice find for the Sox and a late inning option in the absence of All-Star closer Liam Hendriks. Hard-throwing Garrett Crochet returned this week from injury and serve as a boost.

White Sox bullpen

Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
RHP Keynan Middleton 2.03 2.62 13.1 13.5 3.4 0.3
RHP Reynaldo Lopez 7.23 6.03 18.2 13.0 4.3 -0.3
RHP Kendall Graveman 3.63 5.32 17.1 8.8 4.2 -1.0
RHP Joe Kelly 3.18 1.89 11.1 12.7 0.8 0.4
LHP Aaron Bummer 9.00 3.58 14.0 8.4 5.8 0.2
RHP Gregory Santos 2.35 2.43 23.0 8.6 2.0 0.5
LHP Garrett Crochet 0.00 3.30 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
RHP Jimmy Lambert 6.23 6.59 17.1 11.4 5.7 -0.3

The White Sox, like the Royals, are playing better in May after a dreadful April to start the season. Chicago has won 9 of their last 17 games, and are 3-3 on their current homestand. While the Royals just lack any kind of depth, the White Sox have some names on their roster that have just underperformed and could bounce back. Whether first-year manager Pedro Grifol can get that improvement out of them and turn this ship around remains to be seen.


How will the Royals fare in this series against the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Royals sweep 3-0
    (9 votes)
  • 48%
    Royals take 2 of 3
    (43 votes)
  • 32%
    White Sox take 2 of 3
    (29 votes)
  • 7%
    White Sox sweep
    (7 votes)
88 votes total Vote Now