The Chicago White Sox were the AL Central favorites heading into 2022, and for good reason. They have a stacked lineup, a couple of great young pitchers, and a stellar closer. But there are some potential weaknesses in that coat of armor they enjoy so very, very much.
That great offense is inconsistent, as they have already experienced so far this season. Despite the combined firepower of Luis Robert, José Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jiménez, and Andrew Vaughn, they rank 10th in the AL in wRC+ (94) and have hit the ninth-most home runs (10).
That starting rotation has already suffered injuries, with renowned Guardian killers Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn hitting the injured list earlier this month. Similarly, while their star closer, Liam Hendricks, remains intact, they are without lefty Garrett Crochet and right-hander Joe Kelly out of the bullpen.
The White Sox are a banged-up team suffering from inconsistency through their first week-plus of the season. And the scariest thing? It hasn’t even mattered.
Despite the injuries, and despite the lack of punishing offense, they hold the AL’s best record at 6-3 with one of the best run differentials in baseball. Most of that comes thanks to a couple of starters that have stepped up admirably in the absence of Giolito and Lynn. Dylan Cease has a 1.69 ERA through two starts, and Michael Kopech has allowed one earned through nine innings.
The Guardians will put off facing Chicago’s best until Thursday, as they will start the series against Dallas Keuchel and Jimmy Lambert.
Despite being a lefty sinker-baller, the Guardians have not had much trouble hitting Keuchel in recent years. The last time out, in July 2021, he was tagged for five runs in 5.1 innings. And the outing before that he got ran after four runs in 6.0 innings of work.
Jimmy Lambert should already be pretty familiar with Guardians batters as well. He’s only pitched in seven games so far (four starts), but three of those have been against Cleveland (two starts). He allowed one run in 3.0 innings last August. The former fifth-round pick relies heavily on a four-seamer fastball, followed by a slider, changeup, and occasional curveball.
The series finale will feature 26-year-old Dylan Cease on the mound for Chicago. Already in his fourth year in the majors, Cease is off his best start ever through two starts. He has struck out 39% of batters in 10.2 innings of work along with that aforementioned 1.69 ERA. So far this season, he’s thrown his slider (42%) more than his four-seamer (41%). He’s earned his praise for his work on the mound, as well as an excellent mustache that he began sprouting this offseason.
For the Guardians, this series represents a chance to forget their weekend sweep at the hands of the Giants even happened. The weather still isn’t cooperating — as evident by the opener being postponed to July — but maybe the offense can come alive again, anyway.
Despite not registering a hit in his last three games, Steven Kwan’s batting average remains at a lofty .385, if that tells you how absolutely bonkers his start to the season was. He was given the day off on Sunday, perhaps just to reset after a couple of rough games, but hopefully the full off-day yesterday did some good.
Team at a glance
- Record: 6-3 (1st in AL)
- Runs Scored: 38 (10th in AL)
- Run Differential: +6 (3rd in AL)
- Last 10: 6-3
- Slash: .228/.276/.384
- wOBA: .295 (10th in AL)
- wRC+: 94 (10th in AL)
- ERA: 3.24 (5th in AL)
- SIERA: 3.38 (4th in AL)
- K-BB%: 16.8% (3rd in AL)
Tuesday, April 19, 6:10 p.m. ET: LHP Dallas Keuchel vs. Shane Bieber
Wednesday, April 20, 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Jimmy Lambert vs. Triston McKenzie
Thursday, April 21, 1:10 p.m. ET: RHP Dylan Cease vs. Zach Plesac
Tim Anderson, SS - No one in the White Sox lineup has been hotter than Tim Anderson to start the season. Call it BABIP luck if you want, and it probably is, but he leads the team 11 hits and three doubles.
Andrew Vaughn, OF/DH - Andrew Vaughn will also be an interesting player to me because of the way he jumped from High-A straight to MLB last season. He showed some growing pains in Chicago last season, but this year he’s off to a scorching start with eight hits and a team-leading two home runs.
How many games will the Guardians win against the White Sox?
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