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Series preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox

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The AL Central gauntlet continues in Chicago.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

While technically still not out of the playoffs (as very few teams are), the Chicago White Sox are basically out of the playoffs. They currently sit 10 games back in the division and 15 games back of the second Wild Card Spot. Their elimination number is quickly dwindling and now sits at six. However, with that said, this series could still be a tricky one for the Tribe.

The White Sox have not necessarily gone quietly into the night, having won half of their last 10 games, including two of three against the Detroit Tigers. They are coming into the series on a two-game losing streak, having lost their series to the Kansas City Royals.

Weather should not be an issue for the series, with temperatures expected in the 70s to 80s. And don't forget, if you are in the Chicago area, a few Let's Go Tribe members will be having a meetup. Details here.

Pitching matchups

Monday, 8:10 p.m. ET: Carlos Carrasco (RHP) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (RHP)

Miguel Gonzalez has been a pleasant surprise for the Chicago White Sox. The 32-year-old veteran was signed to a minor league deal prior to the season, and has started 19 games for his new club. He carries a 3.81 ERA and a career-best 3.85 FIP over 108.2 innings.

Gonzalez missed a month's worth of starts with a groin strain suffered on August 11, but he was excellent in his return last Tuesday, holding the Tigers scoreless over 6.1 innings with four strikeouts and no walks.

Opposing Gonzalez will be Carlos Carrasco, who has been pretty up-and-down lately. Luckily, his ups are shutouts, and his "downs" are three or four runs at the most. His last start was a 7.1-inning win against the Houston Astros in which he struck out five and allowed four runs off of nine hits.

Tuesday, 8:10 p.m. ET: Trevor Bauer (RHP) vs. Jose Quintana (LHP)

Chris Sale gets all the national headlines, but often times Jose Quintana has been the best pitcher on the White Sox staff. He has struggled recently, however, allowing 11 runs in 11.2 innings over his last two starts. He also struck out 15 and walked two in that same span, so take it for what you will -- he is still very effective.

Trevor Bauer had his first rough outing in quite some time in his last start, allowing five runs in five innings with just two strikeouts. However, overall, the Tribe's No. 3 starter carries a 3.86 ERA and a 4.01 FIP -- both career-highs. He is also walking just nine percent of the batters he faces this season, another career-high if he can maintain it for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, 8:10 p.m. ET: Josh Tomlin (RHP) vs. Carlos Rodon (LHP)

Carlos Rodon was the big exciting rookie pitcher for the White Sox last season, and his improvement has been marginal in his second season. To this point, he has already pitched more innings in 2016 (142.0) than in his rookie campaign (139.1). The 23-year-old is walking fewer batters, but also striking fewer out, but it evens out to a 15.3 percent strikeout-walk-ratio, still better than the 11.2 percent he posted last season. A problem with home runs has also emerged -- he is allowing a little over one per nine innings this season.

Rodon has been absolutely lights out since August, however. In seven starts (43.2 innings), Rodon has allowed just nine runs and issued 10 walks while striking out 40 batters. That equates to a 1.85 ERA and a 2.73 FIP.

With Danny Salazar once again missing a start due to forearm fatigue, Josh Tomlin has been placed back in the rotation. Tomlin has not started since he was rocked for four runs in 1.2 innings on August 30 and his only appearance since was in relief on September 5 against the Astros. At this point, your guess is as good as anybody's as to what kind of performance we can expect out of Tomlin. Maybe the time off did him some good and he won't allow six runs in a handful of innings. Or maybe it won't make a difference and Salazar's absence will be that much more painful.

Thursday, 2:10 p.m. ET: Mike Clevinger (RHP) vs. James Shields (RHP)

Remember when the White Sox traded for James Shields and then he was immediately awful? That sure was fun to watch as a non-Chicago fan. "Big Game James" has turned it around somewhat, but the White Sox still probably are not thrilled with their trade deadline return. Shields had one of his best outings as a member of the White Sox on Saturday, lasting six innings and allowing only three runs off of four hits.

Although Mike Clevinger is listed as a starter, he probably will not pitch long, no matter how well he does or does not perform. Clevinger was excellent in his last start, striking out five over 4.0 innings of work. However, he was pulled and bullpen day 2.0 was born. It certainly went better than last time, but the game against the Minnesota Twins ended up going 12 innings due to a nonexistent Cleveland Indians offense and the Tribe had to burn through 10 relievers before mercifully losing.

Upcoming schedule

After wrapping up this homestand against the White Sox, the Indians will return home to host a pivotal series against the Detroit Tigers. After their final off-day of the season, they will host the Kansas City Royals.

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Team in a box

Chicago White Sox

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

Record

68-74

R/G

4.16

13th

ERA

4.09

5th

AL Central

4th

OBP

.317

11th

HR/9

1.19

8th

Last 10

5-5

SLG

.405

13th

BB/9

3.32

13th

Home

38-32

Steals

68

7th

SO/9

7.89

9th

While their bullpen has been pretty bad, the White Sox starting rotation is fourth in the American League in FanGraphs WAR at 11.2.

Chicago White Sox roster

Position players

Despite 35 home runs, Todd Frazier has not been the offensive savior the White Sox needed (or the one Indians fans thought he would have been for the Indians). He has a 95 wRC+ and is second on the White Sox in fWAR at 1.6, which speaks more to how bad the Chicago offense is than how good Frazier is.

Adam Eaton has been the one consistent bright spot in the lineup, slashing .282/.364/.421 with 12 home runs. Jose Abreu, while great offensively (.297/.349/.477, 23 HR), has been horrible on defense, according to advanced metrics. He has been worth -5 defensive runs saved over 1208.2 innings at first base with an UZR/150 of -7.1. You cannot make too many assumptions based on less than a year's worth of defensive data, but this is turning into a trend for Abreu, and if the metrics are this bad it might be hinting at something.

Starting pitchers

Chris Sale and Jose Quintana have been as good as ever this season, with ERA's overing around 3.00 all season long. The aforementioned Miguel Gonzalez has been a nice surprise, as has the youngster Carlos Rodon. James Shields is still technically pitching, too.

Bullpen

The White Sox's closer, David Robertson, is fourth on the team among relievers in fWAR (0.8). The White Sox also have a pair of great relievers in Nate Jones and Dan Jennings, who have a 2.43 and a 1.73 ERA, respectively.