Analysis

White Sox Series Preview: Dancin’ with the First-Place Twins

The Chicago White Sox (4-4) open their second road series of the 2017 campaign Friday Evening against the Minnesota Twins (6-3) at Target Field. Here is our series preview, and be sure to check back for the latest preview on the afternoon of the first game of each series this season.

White Sox Preview

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How about the White Sox pitching staff?

Even with the six earned runs served up by Jose Quintana on Opening Day factored into the equation, the group has put up a 2.72 ERA and is averaging 8.8 K/9 (23.8 K%). The FIP is an undesirable 4.19, but by and large, the staff is pitching quite well. And with the Twins averaging a mere 2.6 runs per over the five games heading into the series finale against the Detroit Tigers Thursday, the match-up for the White Sox is a favorable one.

Players to watch include newcomer Dylan Covey and David Robertson. Covey is making his first major league start and isn’t a strikeout guy, topping out at around 93 mph with his fastball. Instead, the right-hander pitches to contact using a mix of fastball, curve and sinker. Curious to see how he fares.

And Robertson has been on fire to open the season, striking out six of the ten batters he’s faced. If he maintains this pace (or some semblance of), he’ll certainly fetch a nice haul for General Manger Rick Hahn in front of the non-waiver trade deadline given the needs of some teams expected to be in contention.

On offense, the White Sox have found mixed results against each of the Twins’ probable starters this series. Against players currently on the 25-man, for example, Ervin Santana owns a lifetime .292/.352/.431 slash line against with Melky Cabrera (38 AB, 12 H, HR, 4 RBI) leading the way. Hector Santiago on the other hand has limited Jose Abreu (11 AB, H, 4 K) and Co. to a paltry .442 OPS. And while Adalberto Mejia was chased earlier this year after 1.2 innings pitched, we don’t have a large enough sample size to go off.

The key for the White Sox this series is in the batter’s box. Simply put, the offense has been terrible, aside from Thursday’s 10-run effort, of course. Look no further than the fact that seven out of nine players with at least 18 at-bats are hitting below .250 and six of them have an OPS south of .700. Not good.

Twins Preview

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What a difference a week makes. After sweeping the Kansas City Royals in convincing fashion to open the season, the Twins have been inconsistent, going .500 over their last six games while failing to find any consistency at the plate or on the mound.

On offense, the strides made over the first four games have largely gone by the wayside. Prior to their throttling of the Detroit Tigers Thursday afternoon, for example, the Twins were slashing out at a paltry .222/.322/.350, ranking in the bottom half of the AL in runs, hits, home runs, slugging and OPS. Like the White Sox, it hasn’t been pretty for the Twins at the plate. Keep an eye on their match-up with Quintana, who has owned the Twins to the tune of a .247/.300/.391 slash line against.

The pitching staff is doing better (2.77 ERA), but they have a worrisome 4.13 FIP and are only averaging 6.8 K/9 with a shockingly low 2.27 K/BB ratio. It hasn’t been as bad as it could be thanks to solid defense and some luck, but with 38.3 percent of balls in play qualifying as hit hard, per FanGraphs, and strikeout numbers that low, something is bound to give.

Where to Watch and Listen

Friday: 7:10 p.m., CSN-Chicago

Saturday: 1:10 p.m., WGN

Sunday: 3:10 p.m., CSN-Chicago

*All games on WLS-AM 890

Probable Pitchers

Friday: RHP Dylan Covey (0-0, -.– ERA) vs. LHP Adalberto Mejia (0-1, 10.80 ERA)

Saturday: LHP Jose Quintana (0-2, 6.17 ERA) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (2-0, 0.69 ERA)

Sunday: RHP James Shields (1-0, 1.69 ERA) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (1-1, 2.38 ERA)

Series Prediction

*In which I take random stabs at calling the result ahead of time. One of these has to be right. Eventually.

Friday: Covey shuts the Twins down, tossing 6.2 innings of one-run ball. The White Sox chase Mejia early yet again. Sox win

Saturday: Quintana has another solid outing, earning his second quality start of the season, and the White Sox get just enough offense. Sox win

Sunday: Shields returns to form, surrendering two home runs and six earned without getting out of the fourth. Sox lose

 

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