The White Sox road trip continues with a three game weekend series in Detroit against the red hot Tigers. Detroit comes in with the best record in baseball at 8-1 through their first nine games. They won their first six games of the year and are a perfect 3-0 at home so far. Meanwhile the Sox come in at 3-5 after splitting the two game set in Cleveland.
Sox vs. Tigers: By the Numbers
White Sox record versus Tigers:
2015: 1st meeting
White Sox at Comerica Park:
2015: 1st meeting
Starting Pitchers: White Sox
Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 6.23 ERA)
Last Start: (ND) 7 IP, 8 hits, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K’s
Career: 1st time facing the Tigers
Tigers versus Samardzija: J.D. Martinez (2-for-6, triple, 3 RBI)
Chris Sale (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Last Start: (W) 6 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K’s
Career: 21 games (11 starts), 5-5, 2.84 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 4.08 K/BB
At Comerica Park: 8 games (5 starts), 2-2, 3.26 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 3.21 K/BB
Sunday Starter is TBD
Starting Pitchers: Tigers
David Price (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Last Start: (ND) 5.2 IP, 4 hits, 3 unearned runs, 3 BB’s, 6 K’s
Versus White Sox
Career: 10 games, 4-5, 3.62 ERA, 1.206 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 3.35 K/BB
Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 3.46 ERA)
Last Start: (L) 6.1 IP, 8 hits, 5 ER, 0 BB, 9 K’s, 3 HR’s
Versus White Sox
Career: 6 starts, 2-4, 3.72 ERA, 1.376 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.92 K/BB
Shane Greene (2-0, 0.00 ERA)
Last Start: (W) 8 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K’s
Versus White Sox
Career: 1 start (ND), 5 IP, 9 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB’s, 7 K’s
Team Notes: Tigers
– Hot Bats: The Tigers come in to this series hitting .312 as a team on the young season. That is good for second in the American League, as is their team on-base percentage (.387) and slugging percentage (.479). They are still averaging an even six runs per game despite only scoring seven total runs in their three game series in Pittsburgh. That was after a five game stretch where the Tigers scored at least seven runs in each game.
Several Tigers are off to hot starts, some that you would expect and some that you, well wouldn’t. Miguel Cabrera (.432, 2 HR’s, 9 RBI) seems to be feeling fine after dealing with some nagging injuries at the start of Spring Training. J.D. Martinez seems to be avoiding the regression many predicted for him with four early homers. Then there is Jose Iglesias (.481) and Anthony Gose (.391), who probably won’t be able to keep up their current paces.
-Swiping Bags: After years as a slow, plodding team, the Tigers have actually become more of a running team the last few years. Last year Detroit was fourth in the AL in stolen bases (106), thanks in large part to Rajai Davis’ 36 bags. This year the Tigers have 13 steals in their first nine games, which leads the American League. Jose Iglesias has four steals, Davis has three and while Anthony Gose only has one swipe, he figures to steal his fair share of bases before the year is over.
The reason this is a major factor this weekend is that the White Sox catchers have been absolutely terrible at stopping opposing running games. Sox catchers have caught ONE of TWELVE potential base stealers. That is 8%. EIGHT. The league average is 30%. Additionally, Geovany Soto has two throwing errors and Flowers has allowed a passed ball and four wild pitches already.
Soria Steps Up: After a brutal year last year, the Tigers chose to stick with Joe Nathan as their closer heading into this season. Nathan however, was placed on the DL just one game into the season with elbow soreness. In his place Joakim Soria has stepped up and brought stability to the Tigers bullpen for the first time in quite a few years. Soria already has four saves with a 1.93 ERA in six games. The rest of the Tigers bullpen has been acceptable as well with the possible exception of lefty Blaine Hardy (9.00 ERA).
Team Notes: White Sox
-Baserunning Still Bad: I highlighted this before the series in Cleveland but given the performance by the Sox on the bases in the first game of that series, I felt the need to revisit it. The Sox have made 12 outs on the bases through the first eight games of the season. Here is the breakdown:
Caught Stealing: 3 out of 4 attempts
Picked Off: 1
Out on Base at 1st: 1
Out on Base at 2nd: 1
Out on Base at 3rd: 3
Out on Base at Home: 3
That is six outs at third base or home in eight games. That is six times the Sox have run into an out when they are already in scoring position. That is bad. They should stop doing that.
-Bullpen Getting it Done: We all know how bad the White Sox bullpen was last year and as a result, the Sox brass made a major effort to improve the pen via free agency. So far, the strategy appears to be paying off. Here is the breakdown:
White Sox Relievers:
2014: 7.2 K/9 rate, 1.61 K/BB ratio
2015: 10.6 K/9 rate, 2.70 K/BB ratio
New additions David Robertson, Zach Duke and Dan Jennings have combined for 20 strikeouts and just two walks in 13.1 innings. Robertson has recorded two saves, both 1-2-3 innings with three strikeouts.
-Not Setting the Table: This is another retread from earlier this week but it remains the biggest issue with the White Sox offense. Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera have combined to go 10-for-67 (.149) this year with ZERO walks in the top two spots in the White Sox order. Obviously this isn’t likely to continue considering both Eaton and Cabrera hit over .300 last season but for now it is a big problem. Jose Abreu has two RBI, both coming on solo homers. Adam LaRoche also has a pair of solo shots. The Sox will need to score some runs this weekend against the vaunted Tigers offense and Eaton and Cabrera need to be the catalysts.