Series Preview: White Sox head to Cleveland for Two

The White Sox hit the road for a five game trip that starts on Tuesday with a brief two-game series against the Tribe. The Indians also come in at 2-4 on the young season after being swept at home by the apparently unbeatable Tigers. Meanwhile, the Sox finally got into the win column by taking the last two games against the Twins at home.

Sox vs. Indians: By the Numbers

White Sox record versus Indians:

2015: 1st meeting

2014: 9-10

White Sox at Progressive Field:

2015: 1st meeting

2014: 2-7

Starting Pitchers: White Sox

Jose Quintana (0-0, 9.00 ERA)

Last start: (ND) 5 IP, 9 hits, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s

Versus Indians

Career: 11 games (9 starts), 3-0, 3.24 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.47 K/BB

At Progressive Field: 4 games (3 starts), 0-0, 1.52 ERA, 0.887 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 4.60 K/BB

 

John Danks (0-1, 6.35 ERA)

Last start: (L) 5.2 IP, 7 hits, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Versus Indians

Career: 22 games, 5-11, 5.10 ERA, 1.417 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 1.98 K/BB

At Progressive Field: 12 games, 4-4, 4.11 ERA, 1.369 WHIP, 5.8 K/9, 1.74 K/BB

 

Starting Pitchers: Indians

Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Last start: (W) 6.1 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB, 10 K’s

Versus White Sox

Career: 9 games (8 starts), 2-4, 5.03 ERA, 1.248 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.81 K/BB

 

Trevor Bauer (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Last start: (W) 6 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 5 BB’s, 11 K’s

Versus White Sox

Career: 2 games, 0-0, 6.14 ERA, 2.455 WHIP, 12.3 K/9, 2.50 K/BB

 

Team Notes: Indians

Pitching Reversal: It has been a tale of two series, and two very different opponents, for the Indians pitching staff so far. In the Tribe’s first series against the Astros, Indian pitchers allowed three total runs in three games. They also only gave up eight hits to Houston batters in the entire series, nearly tossing a combined no-hitter in the finale.

Against the Tigers however, it was a much different story. The red-hot Detroit bats put up 25 runs in the three-game series over the weekend at Progressive Field. The Tigers also pounded out a remarkable 43(!) hits in the series and hit five homers.

Neither of the two pitchers the Sox face allowed a run in their first starts against the Astros.

"Losing

-Gomes Gone and Brantley’s Back: Indians starting catcher Yan Gomes is out for six to eight weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee. Gomes suffered the injury Saturday night on a force play at home plate when Rajai Davis slid into home and made contact with Gomes. Last year was a breakout season for Gomes who hit .278 with 21 homers and 74 RBI and won the Silver Slugger Award for American League catchers.

Gomes will be replaced by Roberto Perez, who hit .271 with a homer and four RBI in 29 games for the Indians last year.

Meanwhile, Michael Brantley missed the last two games against the Tigers due to back spasms. The Indians centerfielder has missed four of the team’s six games so far this year with back issues. Brantley is also coming off a career year in which he hit .327 with 20 homers, 97 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. He made his first All-Star team and finished third in the MVP voting last year.

-Ryan F’N Raburn: Even if Brantley is able to play in the series I would expect the Tribe to make sure to get Sox-Killer Ryan Raburn into the lineup in one, if not both games of the series. Here is a little taste of how much Raburn likes hitting against the Sox:

Career: .252 average/.310 on-base percentage/.430 slugging percentage

Versus White Sox: .297/.345/.508

Career Home Runs: 74 in 731 games

Home Runs vs White Sox: 17 in 105 games (23% of career total homers in 14% of career games)

Career RBI: 296

RBI vs White Sox: 75 (25% of career total)

So there you go, Raburn basically has a quarter of his total career production at the White Sox expense. On the plus side, the Sox did not allow a home run to Raburn last year for the first time since 2008, so they got that going for them, which is nice.

Team Notes: White Sox

-Trouble at the Top: The White Sox offense was expected to be much improved this season and a big reason for that was going to be the top of the order setting the table for the big boppers in the middle. However, through six games, the top of the order hasn’t been doing much of anything.

Adam Eaton is 2-for-25 (.080) on the season and both the times he has been on base, he has been thrown out on the base-paths.

The newly acquired Melky Cabrera has done much better. Melky is 5-for-24 (.208) on the year, although he did go 2-for-4 on Sunday with a run scored. All of Melky’s hits have been singles though and he is yet to draw a walk.

Jose Abreu led off a lot of innings and rarely came to the plate with runners on base in the last two series. If the Sox are going to score runs consistently, the top of the order needs to get on.

-Giving Away Outs: Base-running has been an issue for the White Sox the last few seasons and this spring the organization brought in Vice Coleman (6th most stolen bases all-time) to work with the team to improve its play on the base-paths. The hope was to be a more aggressive team on the bases and put pressure on the opposing team’s defense.

There is, however, a thin line between being aggressive, and being stupid. The White Sox have been on the wrong side of that line during the first week of the season. Through six games the White Sox have made nine outs on the bases, including pick-offs and caught stealing. Here is the breakdown:

Caught Stealing: 2 in 3 attempts

Picked off: 1

Out on Base at 1st: 1

Out on Base at 2nd: 1

Out on Base at 3rd: 1

Out on Base at Home: 3

gillaspie slide

Three outs at home and another at third base already this year on the bases. One of the caught stealing’s was at third as well so that is five outs at third base or home in six games. That is five outs where the runner is already in scoring position, the inning isn’t over, and they make an out on the bases. That is clearly on the stupid side of the aggressive/stupid base-running line.

By contrast, the Sox are below the league average in extra-base-taken percentage. That basically just counts any time a runner takes more than the same amount of bases as the batter, so more than one base on a single, more than two on a double. The Sox are at 29% through the first week of the season while the league average is 39%. This isn’t a perfect stat but combine that with the outs on base numbers and you can get a pretty good idea of whether or not a team is running the bases well.

-Division Games: The Sox need to continue to right the ship because a slow start could bury them in the AL Central standings and force them to spend all year trying to climb out. The Sox play their first 18 games of the season against AL Central opponents and 25 of the first 28 total are within the division.

Many people believe this will be a four team race in the AL Central so winning your division games becomes very important. The Sox have had their issues within the division in the past, including last year when they had a losing record against all four AL Central teams.

matthoeppner

About matthoeppner

White Sox fan for as long as I can remember. Graduate of the Michigan State School of Journalism, Pitch F/X Operator for MLB.com, play-by-play announcer for the Michigan Regional Sports Network and new dad. I live in the Detroit area but am still a Chicagoan all the way.

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