Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox, May 29-31, 2015
Another year, another chapter in the 2005 World Series Memorial Classic.
The Astros come off a 3-4 road trip between Detroit and Baltimore. The Astros' luck ran out in game were they scored four runs or more, dropping two during the road trip after starting 24-0. The Astros still sit atop the American League West with a six game lead over the Angels. Houston is also the only team in the West with a winning record.
The White Sox came into the 2015 season with high expectation after multiple top-market free agents signings. But things haven't gone their way thus far in 2015. They currently sit seven games behind the Royals in the AL Central, in dead last in the division with a record of 21-25.
White Sox Offseason Changes
The White Sox had one key departure from the 2014, Paul Konerko. Konerko was the last member of the 2005 World Series team left on the roster. The White Sox overhauled their roster with multiple top-dollar signings this offseason. They signed and traded for pitchers Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, and Zach Duke. The A's quickly flipped Samardzija to replenish their farm system, but the Shark gives Pale Hose a nice one-two punch at the top of their rotation.
Chicago also added Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, and Emilio Bonifacio. LaRoche wouldn't even have been on the market if not for Ryan Zimmerman's dimensioning skills at third in Washington, this was a steal for the Sox. Chicago hoped Cabrera would be able to get back to his 2012 (the year he was suspended for steroids) form after surgery to remove a tumor from his spine.
Game 1: RHP Lance McCullers (1-0, 2.53 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (1-0, 4.03 ERA, 1.84 WHIP)
Game 2: LHP Dallas Keuchel (6-1, 1.98 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (2-5, 4.67 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
Game 3: RHP Roberto Hernandez (2-3, 4.77 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) vs. LHP John Danks (2-4, 5.69 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
Game one showcases two pitchers that could have easily been on the same team, some would even argue they would be on the same team. Lance McCullers makes his third start, facing 2014 draft pick Carlos Rodon who is making his fourth start this season.
McCullers has been sharp thus far in the majors, he has allowed three earned runs through 10 2/3 innings. McCullers picked up his first win last saturday against the powerful Tigers lineup, allowing two earned runs on six hits over six innings - striking out six and walking one.
The NC State product, Rondon, made his first three appearances in the major out of the bullpen. He allowed just two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings in the pen. As a starter, he has a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings pitched. In his most recent start on May 20, Rodon held the Indians to one run over six innings.
Rodon may also be looking for payback in a way after being the consensus number over pick going into the 2014 season, only to have the Astros go another direction.
After J.A. Hinch moved the rotation around, Dallas Keuchel is starting Saturday rather than Sunday. The beard has been untouchable for the most part in 2015. The Astros are 25-14 since the start of the 2014 when Keuchel starts. Keuchel is coming off his first loss of the season, allowing four runs over eight innings on May 25 against the Orioles. He is 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two career starts against the White Sox.
Countering Keuchel is Jose Quintana who is still working to shed 14 runs allowed in his first three starts from his ERA. He had four quality starts out of five opportunities following that rough start to the season. Quintana stumbled again in his most recent start, allowing 7 runs (6 earned) over six innings against the surging Twins on May 24. He is 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA in four career starts against the Astros.
Roberto Hernandez's hold on a rotation spot is slipping from his grasp. He has allowed four or more runs in three of his last five starts. Hernandez allowed seven runs over five innings in his last start, May 24 against the Tigers. He is 9-6 with a 5.60 ERA in 19 starts against the White Sox in his career.
John Danks, Austin native, is no longer playing with younger brother Jordan Danks (who was cut this offseason). Danks still has found his lane for success in his nine-year major league career, he has allowed 31 runs through 49 innings. He has given up 11 runs over his last 10 1/3 innings. Danks is 0-3 with a 9.15 ERA in four starts against the Astros.
George Springer, Evan Gattis, and rookie Preston Tucker have lead the way for the Astros offense over the past week. Springer is batting .360 with three extra-base hits, two RBI, two walks, and one stole base as he has moved to the lead off spot. Gattis is clubbing the ball with six extra-base hits in 22 at-bats and driving five runs in that same stretch. Young Mr. Tucker is showing why he has the moniker "BamBam" after hitting two pinch home runs during the Astros most recent road trip.
Former Astros farmhand J.B. Shuck leads the White Sox in batting average over the team's last eight games. Adam LaRoche has been killing it, batting .321 with four extra-base hits in 28 at-bats. Jose Abreu is batting .212 (7x33) with four extra-base hits in his last eight games.
The Astros take two out of three from the White Sox. Keuchel will lead the way for one victory and the Astros bats will help take down Danks or Rondon.