The Chicago White Sox (29-36) begin a six-game road trip with a set against the Toronto Blue Jays (31-34). 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
Having lost 10 of their last 12 contests on the road, the White Sox travel to the Rogers Centre looking to continue the success they found on the short four-game homestand against the Baltimore Orioles.
Thankfully, the offense is hot right now, having scored at least five runs in five of their last six. Led by Avisail Garcia (.343/.381/.558, 10 HR, 48 RBI), Jose Abreu (.292/.349/.470, 10 HR, 37 RBI) and Matt Davidson (14 HR, 35 RBI), they are getting on base and coming through with clutch hits.
Garcia is flat-out mashing the ball, putting up a .432/.457/.682 slash line with seven extra-base hits and 11 RBI over his last 11 games. And while Abreu hasn’t hit a home run in 20 games, he has put up a .385 on-base percentage over his last 117 plate appearances. And Davidson has gone deep in four straight. As long as manager Rick Renteria doesn’t show Davidson the pine this weekend, the White Sox should score some runs.
Finally, keep your eyes on James Shields. Making his first start since April 16, Shields’ return is much anticipated in light of the rotation’s recent struggles. Wouldn’t have thought this when the season began, but Shields could provide a steadying influence to his rotation counterparts.
Blue Jays Preview
After winning eight of nine contests to close out May, the Blue Jays need to find a little consistency. All told, they’re six up and six down with 41 runs scored against 60 runs allowed in June. And they’ve scored 21 of those runs in three games. Simply, the offense isn’t pulling its weight on a consistent basis.
At the heart of the lineup’s struggles are the play of Kendrys Morales and Jose Bautista. Over the past 14 days, the pair has combined for three home runs and only nine RBI while striking out 25 times. That’s not going to get the job done. Justin Smoak is slashing out at .341/.378/.780 with six home runs and nine RBI over that same timespan, but one man cannot shoulder the load.
From a pitching perspective, manager John Gibbons will trot out two of his better starters in Marcus Stroman and Joe Biagini. Sure, Biagini has five losses, but in seven starts, he’s allowed an impressive .208/.255/.299 slash line against over 37.1 innings pitched and is particularly effective against right-handed hitters. And Stroman has only given up more than two runs twice over his last 10 outings. J.A. Happ is entirely hittable, but Stroman and Biagini are going to pose challenges for the White Sox lineup.
Where to Watch and Listen
Friday: 6:07 p.m., CSN-Chicago
Saturday: 12:07 p.m., CSN-Chicago
Sunday: 12:07 p.m., WGN
*All games on WLS-AM 890
Friday: LHP Joe Quintana (2-8, 5.30 ERA) vs. RHP Joe Biagini (1-5, 3.38 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (2-5, 3.81 ERA) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (7-2, 3.09 ERA)
Sunday: RHP James Shields (1-0, 1.62 ERA) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (1-4, 4.31 ERA)
*In which I take random stabs at calling the result ahead of time. One of these has to be right. Eventually.
Friday: Quintana and Biagini both pitch deep. Sox get to the Blue Jays pen. Sox win
Saturday: Sox fall flat against Stroman. Pelfrey gives up a few runs early. Sox lose
Sunday: Happ is hapless against the White Sox lineup. Shields pitches a gem. Sox win
Unless otherwise notes, advanced statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.
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