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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Chicago White Sox

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The Astros (55-36, 1st in AL West) kick off the second half of the season with a weekend series against the White Sox (54-35, 1st in AL Central)

MLB: Game Two-Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Notes

It’s been a month since the Astros swept the White Sox in Minute Maid Park and since then the South Siders have done a lot of winning, only losing two of their last six series. However, the schedule has been light for them in that time, with Seattle being the strongest team that they have faced.

Other than that it’s been a mix of the Twins, Tigers, Orioles, and Pirates, so not exactly world beaters. As before, beating teams above .500 remains the White Sox’s biggest bugaboo, which bodes well for the Astros.

Still, the White Sox are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and slowly separating themselves out from the rest of the division. They now sit 8 games ahead of the 2nd place team in the Central and look to be in a prime spot to secure a postseason berth. Speaking of October, this series represents what could very likely be an ALDS or CS preview, so it should be interesting to watch for that reason alone.

Last 10 Games: 7-3 Record, 1 Series Sweep, 2 Series Wins, +25 Run Differential (68 Scored, 43 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 31-14 at home, 23-21 on the road, 16-24 against teams over .500


Offense

Like the last time the Astros and White Sox met, Chicago’s offense remains an excellent-but-not-quite-elite unit that factors in MLB’s top ten for most traditional stats. The South Siders sport a .257/.341/.417 slash line, but don’t really excel in any one area except getting on base. I don’t want to undersell it though as that .341 OBP is 2nd in MLB, and is the sign of a team good at working over opposing pitchers.

The White Sox have a good spread of players who are slightly above average so far as stats go, but no one player that has really shown absolute dominance this season. While there have been impressive runs for players, only one player has managed an OPS above .800 and at least 100 AB’s.

Notable Players:

  • Yasmani Grandal (.188/.388/.436) is that one player north of .800, and that is really thanks to a love of homers and base on balls. Grandal has mashed 14 taters and walked 60 times already this season. What makes that more impressive is that, as a catcher, he’s only played in 63 games so far.
  • Yoan Moncada (.272/.401/.390), Jose Abreu (.253/.334/.451), and Tim Anderson (.309/.345/.424) have all been the core of this team in the first half. All three have been steady producers that have helped the team to roll over lesser opponents. Moncada has been the most balanced player of the three, Abreu has been the biggest power threat, and Anderson represents speed on the base paths.

Pitching

Nothing has changed much in the last month as pitching remains one of the bigger strengths for the White Sox . Specifically starting pitching, which has enjoyed one of the best rotations that White Sox fans have seen in a while.

Still, the relievers have turned in a decent performance so far this season with an ERA of 3.92. However, their 1.30 WHIP and .242 BAA are less desirable. That all comes from a bullpen with only 280.1 IP in the first half, less than any other pen in MLB.

Notable Relievers:

  • Last seen cursing up a storm while securing the save in the All Star Game, closer Liam Hendricks (RHP, 2.75 ERA, 39.1 IP, 63 K’s) remains the best bullpen arm for the White Sox and one of the best in the league. He’s been a workhorse for the Sox and leads the team with 39.1 IP in 40 games. Hendricks has successfully converted 23 of 27 save opportunities this season.
  • Ryan Burr (RHP, 1.08 ERA, 16.2 IP, 14 K’s) has pitched himself into a high leverage role since joining the team at the tail end of May. Since May 31st he’s only given up 2 runs, which came in the same outing, but has been spotless otherwise. Garrett Crochet (LHP, 2.63 ERA, 27.1 IP, 35 K’s) and Aaron Bummer (LHP, 3.26 ERA, 30.1 IP, 43 K’s) also remain high leverage options for Chicago.

Pitching Matchups

Quick note that the White Sox have not officially announced their starters for this series yet, but the following probables have been announced by reporters:

Game 1: Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 6-2, 2.94 ERA, 89 K’s) vs Dylan Cease (RHP, 7-4. 4.11 ERA, 117 K’s)

Cease had a rocky start to the month of July, giving up 6 runs in 5.1 innings of ball before bouncing back against Minnesota with a 5-inning, 2-run outing before the break. He was slapped around pretty hard when he faced the Astros last month, surrendering 7 runs in just 3.1 IP.

Game 2: Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 3-4, 3.61 ERA, 44 K’s) vs Lucas Giolito (RHP, 7-6, 4.15 ERA, 125 K’s)

Giolito’s ERA is a little inflated thanks to a few bad outings, but he has been a solid piece of the rotation otherwise. Like Cease, he started July with a clunker, surrendering 6 runs in 5 innings of work, but bounced back with a 2-run game before the break. This will be his first time seeing that Astros since May of 2019, when he tossed a complete game shutout against them.

Game 3: Framber Valdez (LHP, 5-1, 2.98 ERA, 52 K’s) vs Carlos Rodon (LHP, 7-3, 2.31 ERA, 130 K’s)

Rodon has been masterful for the White Sox and is coming off of an excellent outing against the Twins, tossing 6 innings of 1-run ball. Rodon had his way in Houston the last time he played the Astros, keeping them to just 1 run in 7 innings, though he took a no-decision in that game after the Astros mounted a comeback win.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, July 16th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / White Sox - WMVP 1000 AM, WRTO 1200
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / White Sox - NBCSH

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Game 2: Saturday, July 17th @ 6:15 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / White Sox - WMVP 1000 AM, WRTO 1200
Watch: FOX

Game 3: Sunday, July 18th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / White Sox - WMVP 1000 AM, WRTO 1200
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / White Sox - NBCSH


Poll

Who wins this series>?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (24 votes)
  • 57%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (89 votes)
  • 20%
    White Sox Win 2-1
    (32 votes)
  • 6%
    White Sox Sweep 3-0
    (10 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now