clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox

New, 28 comments

Back to the AL Central we go.

Boston Red Sox v Chicago White Sox Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

If you take away the fact that the Indians were utterly embarrassed in yesterday’s series finale, taking 5 of 6 from the Mariners on the season series is fantastic. The lone loss was incredibly frustrating, but the other five games were all competitive and the Tribe came out the victor in every other contest. Sounds like a win in my book. Now, the Indians turn their attention to the Chicago White Sox for the second time this season. The Tribe split the first two-game set with them earlier this season. Like so many other match-ups so far this season, the Indians are superior when it comes to pitching but the White Sox are hitting much better. That being said, the White Sox just finished losing 3 of 4 to the Red Sox at home (they were outscored in the series 34-11). Here’s how they’ve fared so far in 2019.

2019 Chicago White Sox

Record 14-18
Record 14-18
Runs Scored 153
Runs Allowed 189
Run Differential -36
Streak L3
AVG .254
OBP .324
SLG .416
OPS .740
wRC+ 101
K/9 9.19
BB/9 4.44

The White Sox are an average (not great) offensive team and a below-average pitching team. They have the arms to strike hitters out, but they’ll also put a lot of runners on base via walks. This would be a perfect series for the Indians to bust out of their season-long offensive slump. Will they do it? Who knows at this point?

Projected starters

Monday, May 6 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Iván Nova (v. Trevor Bauer)

I’m not sure what the White Sox were hoping for when they acquired Iván Nova, but what he’s produced so far in 2019 certainly isn’t it. He has been downright awful across the board. In 31.1 innings of work, Nova has allowed 29 earned runs while walking 8 and striking out 23 (ERA+ 53). Walks are usually a big culprit for hitters in these situations, but not Nova. He’s giving up 13.8 hits per 9 innings and currently has a WHIP of 1.787. Too many folks are reaching base and Nova can’t keep them from scoring. He uses a mix of five pitches, primary of which are his sinker (92 mph) and his slider (86 mph). His most recent start came on May 1 against the Baltimore Orioles; in that game, Nova went 5.2 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 9 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5.

Tuesday, May 7 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Lucas Giolito (v. Jefry Rodriguez)

Lucas Giolito isn’t pitching very well this season either, but he’s a big step up from Nova. So far in his 23.2 innings of work, Giolito has allowed 14 earned runs while walking 12 and striking out 30 (ERA+ 84). He’s got a good fastball (94 mph) that gets a decent amount of swings and misses, and he pairs it with his slider (84 mph), which also generates a lot of swings and misses. The biggest change for Giolito this season is his ability to get hitters to strike out. Over his career, he has a 6.8 K/9; in 2019, that number has jumper to 11.4. His most recent start came on May 2 against the Boston Red Sox; in that game, Giolito went 5.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7.

Wednesday, May 8 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Reynaldo López (v. Shane Bieber)

Reynaldo López had a good year last season, his best of his career. It was his first time as a full time starter and he maintained a 108 ERA+ across 188.2 innings. Needless to say, the White Sox were hoping that López would continue that level of production this year in his age-25 season. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. In his 36.1 innings so far in 2019, López has allowed 29 earned runs while walking 20 and striking out 45 (ERA+ 66). If you thought Nova had problems with runners on base, you haven’t watched López pitch this season. He’s allowing 10.9 hits per 9 innings along with 5.0 walks; this translates to a WHIP of 1.761 and a whole mess of runners on the base paths. Compare this to his numbers last year (7.9 H/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.272 WHIP), and it’s easy to see why he hasn’t had success this year. He’s got a whiff-inducing fastball (95 mph), a flyball inducing slider (83 mph), and a flyball inducing change (83 mph). His most recent start came on May 3 against the Boston Red Sox; in that game, López went 5.0 innings and allowed 6 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6.

Thursday, May 9 1:10 p.m. ET: TBD (v. Carlos Carrasco)

MLB doesn’t know who is starting on Thursday, but FanGraphs seems to believe that it is Manny Bañuelos. How does that look?

Oh. Well that’s not good. Bañuelos has had a rough year. In 22.2 innings (only 3 starts in 7 total appearances), Bañuelos has allowed 15 earned runs while walking 11 and striking out 22 (ERA+ 75). His slider (85 mph), curve (79 mph) and his fastball (92 mph) get flyballs, while his sinker (92 mph) can get a lot of ground balls. His most recent start is encapsulated in the tweet above. Not great.

Lineup highlights

  • C James McCann: James McCann is in the midst of his most successful season to date. It remains to be seen if he can keep this production up over a full season (he’s a career wRC+ of 79), but right now he’s one of the best hitters on the White Sox. Across 76 plate appearances so far, McCann is slashing .352/.395/.563 (wRC+ 159). He’s striking out and walking at about what he’s done throughout his career; his stats are being helped by a ridiculous .440 BABIP. Expect his numbers to fall a bit, but maybe he’s figured something out.
  • 1B Jose Abreu: Jose Abreu is still crushing baseballs. Cleveland fans have come to know Abreu as a somewhat younger version of Miguel Cabrera, and that’s no fun for anyone. Across 143 plate appearances this season, Abreu is slashing .291/.364/.551 (wRC+ 142). Unlike McCann, don’t expect Abreu’s numbers to suddenly fall off a cliff. He’s the real deal.
  • SS Tim Anderson: Tim Anderson has taken some big steps forward so far this season. After two seasons of a below average bat, he’s suddenly hitting for average and power. Across 122 plate appearances so far this season, Anderson is slashing .333/.361/.530 (wRC+ 140), which is much better than any season he’s had up to this point.

Chicago White Sox roster

FanGraphs

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    4
    (20 votes)
  • 47%
    3
    (48 votes)
  • 26%
    2
    (27 votes)
  • 3%
    1
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    0
    (2 votes)
101 votes total Vote Now