The Chicago White Sox (15-12) finish up their 10-game roadie with a set versus the Baltimore Orioles (17-10) at Camden Yards. 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
After taking two of four at Kauffman Stadium from the Kansas City Royals, the White Sox enter the series with the Orioles tied for first place in the American League Central. Raise your hand if you had this scenario playing out after 27 games. Impressive.
With regards to story-lines, there are a few, starting with the White Sox bullpen. Now down Nate Jones (elbow), Zach Putnam (elbow) and Jake Petricka (shoulder), the unit is a shell of what it once was. Thankfully, guys like Anthony Swarzak and Tommy Kahnle are pitching lights out, but if Dylan Covey, Miguel Gonzalez or Jose Quintana make early exits this weekend, a thin unit will be stretched to the breaking point.
Speaking of stretched to the breaking point, Covey has some work to do. To be sure, his roster spot isn’t in any immediate jeopardy as Carlos Rodon was just transferred to the 60-day disabled list and James Shields is still some time off, but it would be nice if he had a solid outing against the O’s.
And how much longer do the White Sox let Cody Asche swing a bat? With two likely starts against right-handers this weekend, Asche could be on the way out the door if he doesn’t turn in professional at-bats. Danny Hayes, (.253/.367/.861, 5 HR, 15 RBI) and Nicky Delmonico (.319/.385/.489, 8 2B, 12 RBI) are but two options at Triple-A Charlotte capable of replacing him on the 25-man roster. (Yoan Moncada will work, too.)
After an eventful series against the Boston Red Sox which featured the targeting of Manny Machado, racial slurs hurled at Adam Jones and the ejections of Kevin Gausman and Jones on Wednesday, the O’s are happy to head home.
Looking at their match-up with the White Sox, there are several things to watch, starting with their bullpen. Led by Zach Britton (1.00 ERA, 5 S), Brad Brach (1.69 ERA, 5 S, 9.6 K/9), Mychal Givens 1.23 ERA, 1.091 WHIP) and Donnie Hart (2.00 ERA, 13.0 K/9), the unit is nearly untouchable. Sure, Darren O’Day is struggling mightily, but with four relievers pitching at elite levels, they are a force to be reckoned with.
On offense, however, the club is having a hard time, ranking in the American League’s bottom third in slugging (.371), wRC+ (91) over the past two weeks. And it was worse going into yesterday’s 8-3 victory over the Red Sox. That said, they have the capability to break out at any time.
Also watch the effort Chris Tillman (shoulder) puts forth in his first start of the season Sunday. With Dylan Bundy and Wade Miley pitching as well as they are, there isn’t a ton of pressure on Tillman to assume No. 1 status, but he did just give up five runs on four round trippers in his last rehab start against the Charlotte Knights on Tuesday. Would be nice for the big league contingent to hang a few crooked numbers on the right-hander after the Triple-A affiliate lit him up.
All told, this is going to be a tough series. The Orioles will throw two of the top starters in the American League at the White Sox in the first two games, and Camden Yards is not a fun place to play. Could be a long weekend.
Where to Watch and Listen
Friday: 6:05 p.m., CSN-Chicago
Saturday: 6:05 p.m., WGN
Sunday: 12:35 p.m., CSN-Chicago
*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: Gonzalez pitches well enough to win. Miley pitches better. Sox lose
Saturday: Covey continues to struggle. Bundy shines. Sox lose
Sunday: Quintana tosses another gem. Tillman is roughed up in his first start of the year. Sox win
Unless otherwise notes, advanced statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs.
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