clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2019 Series Preview #16: Chicago White Sox @ Houston Astros

New, comments

The Astros (31-16, 1st in AL West) go from red to pale as they play four against the White Sox (21-24, 3rd in AL Central)

Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Recency Bias

White Sox

The south-siders arrive in town after a literally average week where they would go 3-3 against the the Indians and Blue Jays, winning every other game until Sunday’s loss. Their recent wins have come with solid pitching performances as the offense hasn’t exactly been explosive, though they can certainly strike for some big innings from time to time. Of course the Astros will be a bigger test for the Sox’s starting staff than Toronto or Cleveland were. The White Sox are firmly entrenched in the middle of a rebuild, but seem to have taken a step forward this season, record-wise.

Of Bats and Men

Oakland Athletics v Chicago White Sox - Game Two Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

The 2019 offense for the White Sox has really been led by a youth movement centered around Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson. Moncada has had some hype surrounding him as he was the centerpiece in the big trade that landed Chris Sale for the Red Sox. He certainly hasn’t disappointed as the 2019 season has moved forward.

As for Anderson, he’s a home-grown talent for the White Sox who seems to have finally figured himself out at the plate after a few years as a ho-hum shortstop. The main reason he was the default shortstop at the beginning of the season was the lack of options for the Sox at the start of 2019. He has a reputation for celebrating at the plate, breaking all sorts of unspoken rules and riling up the squares.

You can also expect some fireworks out of catcher James McCann, who has been going crazy at the plate ever since getting signed in the offseason. There’s also Charles Tilson, who has had a solid few weeks since making his 2019 debut at the beginning of May, though he is striking out at a high rate and doesn’t hit for much power. Veteran José Abreu has also become a power threat for the Sox, though his average is somewhat low.

Beyond that Yonder Alonso and Yolmer Sánchez have been swinging some hot bats in the past week, but there’s not too much of a threat from the rest of the lineup.

I should also note that much-ballyhooed prospect Eloy Jiménez is expected to return to the Sox at some point during this series, if not on Monday. A big piece of the Quintana trade with the Cubs, Jiménez has not exactly lived up to expectations, but there are flashes of talent for the young player.

On the Pen

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Chicago’s bullpen is anchored by offseason acquisition Alex Colomé in the closer role, who has done an excellent job since coming over in a trade from the Mariners. Colomé is a perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities this season and currently sports a 2.00 ERA over 18 innings.

The Sox also picked up Kelvin Herrera this winter and slotted him into the 8th inning role, though he’s had his issues as the setup man. Herrera has given up 13 runs over 20 innings and leads the relief corps with 3 losses. In spite of this he still seems to be getting a fair number of high leverage situations.

Aaron Blummer is probably the White Sox’s best reliever this month though, which is when he was called up from AAA. Over 10.1 innings in May he has yet to give up a run and has held opponents to a .088 AVG and 0.58 WHIP. He’s joined by fellow May call-up Juan Minaya as the only other pitcher without an earned run this month, but Minaya has not seen a whole lot of action as of yet in 2019.

Ryan Burr and Jace Fry have seen the most use out for the pen when you look at the rest of the relievers. Though his numbers seem worse at face value, Jace Fry seems to have been in more high-leverage situations when compared to Burr, but both have done their fair share of mop-up duty this year.

Astros

The Astros return home after dropping a close one in Boston to snap their second 10-game winning streak of 2019. Even with that loss there doesn’t seem to be much the Astros can’t get done at the plate recently, having exploded all over opposing pitching for the better part of May so far. Of course it helps that the starting rotation and bullpen have been lights out as well, but Houston has really put itself on display as one of the more complete teams in the league.

Of Bats and Men

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

This week’s top spot has to belong to Reddick after a red-hot couple of series where he would slash .471/.500/.882 without striking out in 20 plate appearances. This just adds to Reddick’s excellent year at the plate as he now leads the team in average. I have to mention Marisnick here too, as his approach at the plate continues to pay off with Jake having another excellent week in 2019.

Aledmys Díaz has also looked like a hero recently while he covers for an injured Altuve, going 5-for-10 with a couple of bombs this week. Unfortunately, he would leave a game in Boston with hamstring discomfort, though it looks like a minor injury and there’s a chance he’ll return to the lineup during this series.

Springer, Correa, and Bregman have all been popping off this week as well. Correa has been a steady producer in the heart of the order this year and continued his onslaught in Boston. Meanwhile, Bregman has seemingly gotten over whatever was impeding him to start 2019 and has seen his OPS rise to .958 and second on the team in recent days.

Unfortunately, the owner of that top spot, Springer, would leave yesterday’s game with lower back tightness, and it is currently unclear what will be the result of that. It would be unfortunate to lose Springer for any period of time with his MVP-caliber 2019, so hopefully this injury won’t sideline him for too long.

On the Pen

MLB: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros’ bullpen continues to dominate as they were able to mostly roll through Boston and Detroit this past week. Osuna would convert the only available save opportunity while Pressly would take over the MLB record for most consecutive scoreless outings.

However, one of the bigger stories this week was Josh James, who seems to have rediscovered the talent that was inexplicably absent from his earlier outings. James would come on in relief of Corbin Martin with two runners on and no one out during game 2 in Boston. He managed to get out of the jam without allowing a run, even after loading the bases on a 1-out walk, and went two more scoreless innings to preserve the 10th consecutive win for Houston.

Framber Valdez and Héctor Rondón were the only relievers with runs on their ledgers this week, with Valdez’s being the one that hurt the most as it was the game winner for Boston. Devo would not get a chance to pitch this week, showing how far he’s fallen in the bullpen ranks this year.

After that everyone continues to roll as there were no other runs surrendered during this past week, though McHugh would not pitch in Boston.

Pitching Match Ups

MLB: Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1: TBD vs. Brad Peacock, RHP (4-2, 4.01 ERA)

Manny Bañuelos had been the owner of this spot in the rotation but was forced to leave his most recent start with a shoulder injury. The White Sox have yet to announce who will take this start tonight, but Bañuelos doesn’t seem to go very deep, so a bullpen game probably wouldn’t be too disruptive for the Sox here. I expect there may be some turnover on their MLB roster come Tuesday either way.

Peacock would tough out his last outing against Detroit without his best stuff, managing to get through 5 innings while only surrendering a single run. However, he would give up 4 walks and only strike out three, so he wasn’t displaying much command. The last couple of outings have been encouraging even with the gritty one against the Tigers, so hopefully Peacock can build on that as he takes on the White Sox.

Game 2: Dylan Covey, RHP (0-2, 4.41 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander, RHP (7-1, 2.38 ERA)

Covey was a Rule 5 draft pick for the Sox in 2018, and he certainly pitched like one last year. Though he stuck at the majors with the rebuilding Sox, he hasn’t exactly been a force on the mound and this season hasn’t been much better in a small sample size. Originally in the pen, he would spend most of May in the minors before being called on to cover for injured starter Carlos Rodón. His last game was his best of the season, hurling 5.2 innings of 1-run ball against Toronto, which would be his first time to get through 5 innings in a start.

It won’t be easy for Covey as he will face off against Justin Verlander, who continues to show off his ace stuff as the Astros’ #1 starter. JV has allowed one run or less in six of his last seven starts and has only failed to get into the 6th in one game this year. His most recent outing against his former team in Detroit was one of his more dominant ones and marked the 4th time he’s kept opposing teams to 2 hits or less. Verlander has managed to put himself squarely in the 2019 Cy Young conversation once again as he keeps on rolling through a Hall of Fame career.

Game 3: Iván Nova, RHP (2-4, 7.42 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole, RHP (4-4, 3.56 ERA)

Nova comes into this match after an absolutely terrible start against Toronto where he was rocked for 9 runs and three home runs in just 3 innings of work. This marked the second time he’s given up 9 runs in a start this year, as well as the third time he would get chased before completing 5 innings. Nova has been having an awful year for the Sox and seems to be in decline after some steady, but unspectacular seasons.

Cole will face his former Pirates teammate after a grinding start against Boston where he would weave in and out of traffic against a tough lineup. Even with all the men on the paths he would go 5 innings without giving up a run and strikeout 7 to keep his ridiculous K/9 numbers up. Cole’s season has not been as dominant as he was in 2018, but his recent outings have seemed better, even with the 4-run hiccup against the Royals. The best part is that his peripheral numbers show that that is the real Cole.

Game 4: Lucas Giolito, RHP (5-1, 3.35 ERA) vs. Corbin Martin, RHP (1-0, 3.86 ERA)

Giolito makes this start on a three game win streak and seems to be showing some of the stuff that his former status as a top pitching prospect suggested he had. He would go five innings against Toronto in a rain-shortened complete game his last time out, giving up just one run and three hits. His previous two appearances were for 7 or more innings, though, and he only gave up 1 total run during those starts. The White Sox must be thrilled to see this after an atrocious 2018 from the young hurler, who they got from the Nationals in exchange for Adam Eaton in 2017.

Martin will make his third career MLB start after a tough outing against the Red Sox offense this past Saturday. He would struggle with command during that game, allowing 4 free passes while striking no one out in just 4 innings of work. Fortunately he would come away with only 2 runs surrendered thanks to the help of Josh James coming in from the pen in relief. This stood in contrast to his first start, an excellent 5.1 innings of work against the Rangers where he would strikeout 9. The Astros are hoping for a bounce-back showing from the young righty who has turned some heads this season.

Fun Fact

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, May 20th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: White Sox - WGN 720 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: White Sox - NBCSCH+ / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Tuesday, May 21st @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: White Sox - WGN 720 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: White Sox - NBCSCH / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Wednesday, May 22nd @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: White Sox - WGN 720 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: White Sox - WGN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 4: Thursday, May 23rd @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: White Sox - WGN 720 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: White Sox - NBCSCH / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (55 votes)
  • 61%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (108 votes)
  • 3%
    Series Split 2-2
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    White Sox Win 3-1
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    White Sox Sweep 4-0
    (5 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now