SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The supposedly rebuilding White Sox got off to a surprising start before cooling off of late despite their run differential still being about the same as Boston’s.
Up, very slightly. Lately, the White Sox have been a streaky team. They are coming off a four-game set against Detroit in which they took three out of four. Before that, however, they dropped three straight in Arizona after taking three of four in Seattle. And, just prior to that, they lost three in a row to the Angels. They are in a little bit of a good streak here, but none of their streaks have been sustainable this month.
5/29: David Price vs. David Holmberg, 2:10 PM ET
Today (Monday) is the big day for the Red Sox, with Price finally making his 2017 debut. It’s been a rough road for the lefty to start the year, with setback after setback. He was finally ready to start throwing in game action, but his first rehab start was rained out because of course it was. When he finally did make it into Triple-A games, he wasn’t very impressive. That’s obviously worrisome, but it’s worth remembering that simply getting the work in is the most important part of those starts. If he can be anywhere close to the guy — by peripherals, at least — he was last year, this is a huge boon for the Red Sox rotation.
The Red Sox will be going up against Holmberg, who is a 25-year-old journeyman who has made eight relief appearances for the White Sox this season. While his 0.87 ERA looks good, there’s really not much to be afraid of here. Even in short stints the lefty wasn’t able to miss any bats and as a starter in the past he wasn’t able to get ground balls, either. Holmberg will offer a high-80’s fastball along with a changeup, curveball and slider, all of which are in the low-80’s. This should be a good day for Boston’s offense, but we all saw what happened on Sunday. Baseball is weird.
5/30: Chris Sale vs. Jose Quintana, 8:10 PM ET
Price’s return is a huge deal for the Red Sox, but Tuesday’s game is far and away the marquee matchup of the series. Tuesday is Sale Day, the best day of the week. This is a very special Sale Day with the lefty making his triumphant return to Chicago in front of his old fans. Knowing Sale, he will not make anything close to a big deal out of this outing, but I’m sure it will be special for him.
To counter Boston’s ace, Chicago sends their ace that replaced Sale. Quintana has long been one of the most consistent and underrated starters in all of baseball and now finds himself on the same trade block on which Sale once found himself. It’s actually been an uncharacteristically tough start to the year for Quintana, who has a 4.82 ERA through his first ten starts. Things were looking up this month until he allowed eight runs in his last start. Despite the tough results, Quintana is missing more bats than ever and the control that has eluded him this season has seemingly returned as he’s allowed just one free pass in his last two starts.
5/31: Drew Pomeranz vs. Mike Pelfrey, 8:10 PM ET
With Price back in the fold, things are setting up for Pomeranz to be the black sheep of the rotation. Not that he wasn’t already, of course. He’s coming off his best start of the year in which he struck out eleven Rangers while walking only one and allowing two runs. In addition to the results, it was also his most efficient outing of the season. Efficiency is the key for Pomeranz moving forward, and if he can keep the ball in the yard while throwing strikes he should be able to have more starts like his last one.
Like Holmberg, Pelfrey will not be a threat to strike out many batters as he’s setting down fewer than five per nine innings this season. The righty also has trouble keeping the ball in the yard and his control is average at best. Put it all together and you have a....mediocre starter. And yet, he has allowed only two earned runs in his last eleven innings and has ten strikeouts to just one walk in that time. He leans heavily on his sinker while also offering a splitter, a curveball and a slider.
There are plenty of old friends in the White Sox organization, but we won’t be seeing any of them this week. Yoan Moncada will probably be up at some point this year, but he’s still awaiting his call up. Michael Kopech is at least a year away and Luis Alexander Basabe even further.
The only old friend on the White Sox major-league roster that was once with the Red Sox never made the majors in Boston. That would be Miguel Gonzalez, who is in Chicago’s rotation but obviously not starting in this series. He was a Rule 5 draft pick by the Red Sox way back in 2008 but was hurt for the next few years before eventually being released and signed by the Orioles in 2011.
Although he’s not the most notable hitter on the roster, Todd Frazier will be the player many Red Sox fans will be watching this week. With third base looking more and more like a black hole, it seems to be the most logical position at which to seek an upgrade at the trade deadline. The power hasn’t really been there this season but there’s plenty of reason to believe it’s still there.
Jose Abreu is the most fearsome hitter in this lineup, as the first baseman is finally hitting again after trending downward over the last couple of seasons. He is a dynamic power hitter who also has good contact skills. That’s a rare skillset, particularly in today’s game.
Avisail Garcia has shockingly been the most productive hitter in this lineup to this point in the year. A longtime disappointment, the outfielder is certainly benefitting from some luck on balls in play but he’s also showing off legitimate power.
Leury Garcia is in his first full season at the age of 26 and has worked his way into the leadoff spot thanks to strong contact skills and surprising pop.
Tim Anderson is a fascinating young player who is extremely raw at the plate but also extremely athletic and with tons of potential. He’s been much better in May than he was in April and the Red Sox don’t want him wreaking havoc on the bases.
The White Sox have a pretty solid bullpen for a rebuilding team, at least in terms of their top two. David Robertson is the current closer, and you probably remember him from his Yankees days. After having some issues with control last year, he’s been lights out in 2017 and looks like he’ll be one of the biggest trade targets in July.
The true surprise in the bullpen has been Tommy Kahnle. After doing a whole lot of nothing in his first three seasons he’s broken out and has been one of the best relievers in baseball this year. Thanks to a wicked fastball/changeup combination he’s striking out more than 16 batters per nine innings while walking just over two.
From the left side, the White Sox bullpen offers only Dan Jennings, who has more walks than strikeouts this season and has had an above-average DRA in just one of his six major-league seasons.
The White Sox bullpen would be even better in the back if they had their primary set-up man, Nate Jones. He’s been on the shelf since the beginning of May but is getting geared back up for action. It’s unclear if he’ll return for this series, but he should be back soon.
Carlos Rodon, a former first round pick, was supposed to be a key member of the rotation this year but has been out for the entire season with a biceps injury. He’s working his way back to a rehab outing soon, but the young lefty will probably miss at least a couple more weeks.
James Shields hasn’t done much of anything since 2014, but he’s working his way back from a lat injury and hopes to be ready for a rehab assignment this week.
Tyler Saladino is a decent utility player but losing him isn’t a huge loss. He was just placed on the disabled list this past weekend.
Zach Putnam is another good relief arm who has been out for a little over a month. He’s starting to get over his elbow injury now and is now ready to start a throwing program.
Dylan Covey has made eight lackluster starts for the White Sox this season but was placed on the disabled list last week with an oblique strain.
Monday’s game should be able to get in, but the Memorial Day matinee could be delayed. As of right now, there is a chance of thunderstorms in the area in the early afternoon. They should clear out by 3:00 PM local time, so whether or not they start on time the game should be played, and should be played in sunny, 70 degree weather.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s night games should have no problem getting in. The temperature will cool off when the sun goes down but the skies should remain clear.