The Chicago White Sox (11-9) travel to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Tigers (11-10) at Comerica Park. 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
I was wrong again. Going into the series with the Kansas City Royals, I lamented the White Sox offense, declaring their three-game set would be a low-scoring affair. Yup. Not even close. All the club did was hang 27 runs on the Royals en route to a series sweep.
Now it’s on to Detroit to face a Tigers pitching staff which has robust 5.29 team ERA and .272/.355/.438 slash line against. Sure, Michael Fulmer, who takes the ball in game two, looks good early on, but Jordan Zimmermann (1.588 WHIP, 4.4 K/9) has allowed five earned in each of his last three outings and Matt Boyd (1.554 WHIP, 5.3 BB/9) can’t find the strike zone.
And how about Miguel Gonzalez? He’s pitched at least 8.0 innings each of the last two starts and has only allowed one run, compiling a wicked .111/.143/.130 opponent slash in the process. This bodes well moving forward as one of the questions going into the season was whether or not the right-hander was going to be able to match the successes he found last season when he put up a 5.50 K/BB ratio along with a 1.071 WHIP and a .244/.273/.358 slash line against over 11 starts after the All-Star break.
The hits keep coming for the Detroit Tigers. Literally.
On offense, the club ranks first in the American League in slugging percentage (.429) and isolated power (.185) while ranking second in runs (104) and RBI (99). They are also in the top five in wRC+ (113), OBP (.328), walk rate (10.0%). Flat out, they know how to hit, even if J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera aren’t in the lineup.
Of particular note is how well the Tigers fare against the White Sox bullpen, which is, arguably, the best unit in MLB. This is particularly important as the Tigers have only scored 20 runs this season with a team .233/.321/.338 slash line from the seventh inning on. So if the White Sox pitching staff hands the bullpen a lead, chances are the Tigers won’t be able to mount a rally.
And the Tigers pitching staff is, um, not good. We already mentioned the struggles Boyd and Zimmermann have had this season, but it’s the bullpen which is really hurting the club. Going into Thursday’s finale against the Seattle Mariners, for example, the unit ranked dead last in MLB in bullpen ERA (6.78), FIP (5.82) and ground ball rate (37.4%) while issuing the second most walks (5.26) per nine innings.
All told, this series sets up well for the White Sox to take two of three. They face two starters struggling to keep runners off base and have Derek Holland and Gonzalez going on Saturday and Sunday, both of whom are pitching well. And I’m not talking about the smoke-and-mirrors stuff James Shields was throwing up before landing on the 10-day DL.
I imagine the bats will be on display this weekend. Should be an entertaining series.
Where to Watch and Listen
Friday: 6:10 p.m., WGN
Saturday: 12:10 p.m., CSN-Chicago
Sunday: 12:10 p.m., WGN
*All games on WLS-AM 890
*In which I take random stabs at calling the result ahead of time. One of these has to be right. Eventually.
Friday: Pelfrey is pounded. Boyd is, too. Sox win
Saturday: Fulmer keeps the lineup off-balance. Holland pitches well, though not well enough. Sox lose
Unless otherwise noted, advanced statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs.
Follow General Soreness @matthewsmitbr