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Series preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox

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Now that the first weekend is out of the way, time to get back on track

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The opening weekend of the 2019 MLB season left a bad taste in the mouths of Cleveland fans. The bats were pretty terrible, Carlos Carrasco got lit up in his first start of the year, and we still don’t know when Francisco Lindor will be back. To top it off, the Tribe lost two of the first three games of the year to the Minnesota Twins, their only real competition for the AL Central crown this year.

But it’s a long season, and the Indians will have their chance to exact their revenge on the Twins down the road. For now, the Tribe comes home for their home opener as they prepare to welcome the Chicago White Sox for the first time in 2019.

Team in a box

2019 Chicago White Sox

Record 1-2
Record 1-2
Runs Scored 15
Runs Allowed 16
Run Differential -1
Streak W1
AVG 0.209
OBP 0.284
SLG 0.313
OPS 0.597
wRC+ 88
K/9 6.19
BB/9 4.5

The Indians weren’t the only team struggling on offense this weekend. The Indians struggled way more than the White Sox, of course, but the Sox got off to a rough start. The pitching hasn’t been much better; Sox pitchers are striking out fewer than a batter an inning and they’re walking almost five hitters per game. Not a recipe for success. Chicago just finished up their first series of the season against the Kansas City Royals. The Royals won the first two before the Sox were able to escape a series sweep by winning the series finale yesterday.

Projected starters

Monday, April 1: RHP Ivan Nova (v. Mike Clevinger)

Ivan Nova came over to the White Sox from the Pirates last December. With the departure of James Shields, the Sox needed someone to slot into the rotation and take over the innings that Shields pitched. This is where Ivan Nova comes in. Last season, Nova pitched 161.0 innings and allowed 75 earned runs while walking 35 and striking out 114 (93 ERA+). While Nova doesn’t really strike too many people out (career K/9 of 6.6), he also doesn’t walk a ton either (career BB/9 of 2.5). He’s got a fourseam (92 mph) and a sinker (92 mph), the latter of which can get a good number of swings and misses. His slider (86 mph) and his change (85 mph) can also generate whiffs (both between 10-20 percent of the time). Monday will be his first start of 2019.

Wednesday, April 3: LHP Carlos Rodon (v. Corey Kluber)

Carlos Rodon is still young enough to get better, but up to this point in his career, he hasn’t been able to be better than average over the course of a season. Take 2018, for example. Across 120.2 innings of work, Rodon allowed 56 earned runs while walking 55 and striking out 90 (ERA+ 101). His fourseam (93 mph) has some good movement while his slider (84 mph) has both vertical and horizontal movement. His change (85 mph) got better and better as last season went on, so look for him to use it to generate some swings and misses. He was tabbed as the Opening Day starter for the White Sox this year in game 1 against the Kansas City Royals; in that game, Rodon went 5.1 innings nad allowed two earned runs on three hits while walking one and striking out six.

Lineup highlights

  • 3B Yoan Moncada: The young third baseman is off to a hot start this season, getting four hits in his first nine plate appearances, including a home run. Most importantly for Moncada is the fact that he has not struck out yet this year; in 2018, he struck out 217 times, the most in all of baseball.
  • LF Eloy Jimenez: The No. 3 prospect (per MLB Pipeline) coming into this season is up in the majors and has had a good start to the year. He lit up Double-A last season with a .317/.368/.556 slash through 53 games. The hitting didn’t stop when he hit triple-A, either; in 55 games with the Charlotte Knights, Jimenez hit .355/.399/.597 with 12 home runs.
  • 1B Jose Abreu: Abreu is hitting a lot. It’s only been three games, but he’s picked up a handful of hits, including a home run. He had a hot spring, too, slashing .323/.329/.600 in 70 plate appearances. Spring stats aren’t really indicative of regular season success, but seeing Jose Abreu hit the ball hard is always scary. Don’t be surprised if the hot bat stays hot this week.

Storylines

Can the Indians stop striking out?

Through the first three games, Indians hitters have struck out a total of 39 times, or an average of 13 times per game. That’s abhorrent and has to get better. Again, it’s only been three games, but double-digit strikeouts every day is not going to win a lot of ballgames.

Can the Indians start scoring runs?

Through the first three games, the Indians have scored five runs total, or an average of 1.67 runs per game. That’s abhorrent and has to get better. Again, it’s only been three games, but scoring hardly any runs every day is not going to win a lot of ballgames.

The pitching has been good, let’s keep it rolling

Carlos Carrasco start aside, the rest of the Indians pitching (starters and relievers) have done their job. Coming into the season, the bullpen was a huge question mark. It still is, but a few more days/weeks of solid performance by the relievers would do a lot to ease some minds. My bet is still on Adam Cimber to have a breakout season, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Jon Edwards step up or Oliver Perez continue his dominance from 2018.

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    2
    (71 votes)
  • 29%
    1
    (37 votes)
  • 13%
    0
    (17 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now