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Red Sox vs. White Sox Series Preview

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A look ahead to this weekend’s battle of the Sox.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation Blog

South Side Sox

The opponent in one sentence

The White Sox are far and away the worst team in the American League, and things don’t figure to get any better as they went further down the road of rebuild at the trade deadline.

Record

41-64

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 2, White Sox 1

Trend

Down. Although they have won two of their last four games, those two victories represent two-third of their wins since the All-Star break. In what has been a ridiculously horrid stretch, Chicago has lost 15 of 18 games since the All-Star break came to a close.

Pitching Matchups

8/3: Rick Porcello vs. Miguel Gonzalez, 7:10 PM ET

Porcello, of course, was supposed to get the start on Wednesday before rain messed that plan up. Now, everyone gets pushed back by a day and that puts Porcello on the mound for the series opener. It’s obviously been a rough year for the 2016 Cy Young winner, who has been more affected by the league-wide uptick in home runs than anyone else on Boston’s staff. He had a decent month of July, and as long as he keeps the home run issues to time with no one on base he should be able to give his team a chance to win any time out.

Gonzalez may be the most solid member of member of this White Sox rotation, which says more about their rotation than it does about the 33-year-old righty. Over 16 starts this season he has pitched to a 4.59 ERA, which is only slightly below-average in today’s run environment. Beyond the decent ERA, Gonzalez doesn’t provide too much. He doesn’t strike out many batters, he walks batters far too often, and he allows too many fly balls for a pitcher in a hitter’s park. For what it’s worth, he does have a 2.33 ERA over his last three starts, but his peripherals aren’t great there either. Gonzalez throws a fastball and a sinker — both in the low-90s — to go with a slider, a curveball and a splitter.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

8/4: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Carlos Rodon, 7:10 PM ET

Rodriguez was on his way towards a breakout season through the first few months of the year until injuries put a stop to his momentum. He’s now made three starts since rejoining the roster and they haven’t gone all that well. He’s got a 6.75 ERA over that stretch, and while his 19 strikeouts in 14 innings is nice his nine walks are not. Efficiency has been an issue for the southpaw, who has not thrown more than 5 13 innings since returning. He and the Red Sox will be hoping a matchup against a rebuilding White Sox squad can help turn things around.

While Gonzalez might be the most solid and consistent starter for the White Sox, Rodon is easily the most exciting in this post-Jose Quintana world. Drafted with the third overall pick of the 2014 draft, the southpaw has an ugly 5.23 ERA over just six starts this year. That’s mainly due to a lack of command that results in far too many free passes. However, he also has dynamic swing-and-miss stuff and can give teams fits if his control is even average. The key for Boston in this one will be patience. Rodon throws a mid-90s fastball to go with a sick slider and a changeup.

8/5: Drew Pomeranz vs. James Shields, 7:10 PM ET

It was a strange month of July for Pomeranz, who was mostly as good as he’s been all year but struggling with different things at different times. For much of the month, he fell back into those efficiency problems that plagued him at the start of the year and threatened to keep him from making the leap he appeared capable of making. His last time out might have been his best outing since the All-Star break, but it featured an oddly low number of strikeouts with just four strikeouts in six innings. Either way, the results were good and there’s no reason to doubt Pomeranz until he gives us a reason to.

Shields, as we all remember, was once one of the better pitchers in the American League and constantly gave the Red Sox and everyone else fits when he was with the Rays. It’s been a few years since those days, though, and now it appears his career is close to over. Over 11 starts this year he has a 6.23 ERA which is actually better than his ERA with the White Sox last year. The issue, besides everything, is mainly home runs. The Red Sox should be able to tee off on Shields on Saturday. The veteran righty features a low-90s fastball, a changeup, a curveball and a cutter.

8/6: Doug Fister vs. Mike Pelfrey, 1:35 PM ET

Fister was, against all odds, incredible in his last start on Monday against the Indians. Most of us went into that outing expecting the righty to get shelled by Cleveland’s lineup, but he actually looked really good. Whether or not that is sustainable is a different story, and something I’m skeptical of. Still, it’s worth noting that John Farrell mentioned a mechanical change before the start, so there is at least a tangible change on which we can hang our hopes.

Fortunately, the White Sox are sending out Pelfrey. The veteran righty has an ERA north of five this year and has only 57 strikeouts to 44 walks over 89 innings of work. None of that is very good, of course. He looked like he may have been turning things around in the beginning of July, but he’s allowed eleven runs over his last two starts. Pelfrey leans heavily on his low-to-mid-90s sinker to go with a splitter, a curveball and a slider.

Old Friends

Yoan Moncada was, of course, the headlining piece in the trade that brought Chris Sale to Boston. The infielder was and still is arguably the most exciting prospect in all of baseball, and while his on-field skills are still a bit raw he brings an athleticism that is rare to see on a baseball field. Things haven’t gone well in a small sample since being called up to the White Sox roster, and he still has some of those same issues we saw from him last year. I’m still confident he’s going to be a special player in this league, but it might not be right away.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzalez, mentioned above as Chicago’s starter on Thursday, is also a former Red Sox player. He never made the majors, but he was taken in the Rule 5 draft back in 2008 and spent three injury-plagued years in the organization before being released.

Notable Hitters

Jose Abreu is the leader of this lackluster White Sox offense, though he won’t be an easy out this weekend. The first baseman provides big power in the middle of Chicago’s lineup, and while he doesn’t draw many walks he also makes more contact than most power hitters like him.

Leury Garcia has been surprisingly solid for Chicago this year with an aggressive, contact-oriented approach. There’s not a ton of power here, but there’s enough to get by.

Matt Davidson has developed into an all-or-nothing player at the plate with huge power numbers and bigger strikeout numbers. It’s resulted in an above-average profile, but it seems hard to sustain.

Tim Anderson is one of the more exciting young players in the game with big athleticism. He’s extremely raw at the plate, though, and will have to either hone in his aggression or start making more contact if he’s going to be a starter in this league.

Bullpen Snapshot

To put it simply, the White Sox bullpen is in shambles after losing David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Dan Jennings and Anthony Swarzak. The following four pitchers will combine to make up the back of the unit for now, though none of them are very exciting.

Tyler Clippard

Gregory Infante

Juan Minaya

Jake Petricka

Injuries

Avisail Garcia has been one of the most surprising players in baseball this year and earned himself an All-Star appearance. He was placed on the disabled list with a thumb injury shortly before the deadline, and while it shouldn’t be a long-term injury he’ll miss this series.

Nate Jones would be a great addition to this bullpen, but he had season-ending surgery on his elbow in July. He had missed the most of the year prior to that.

Zach Putnam would also be a great addition to this bullpen, but he also had season-ending surgery.

Willy Garcia has been solid in Chicago’s outfield this year but is out with a concussion after a nasty collision with Moncada last week.

Geovany Soto has been missing from behind the plate since May and could miss the entire season after undergoing knee surgery.

Charlie Tilson is an interesting and athletic outfielder who has been held out all year because of a variety of injuries. Right now, he’s down with an ankle injury.

Weather Forecast

It’s going to be a humid weekend in Boston, which means there’s always a chance of rain like we saw on Wednesday. That being said, the forecast looks clear for the first two days for now. There could be some thunderstorms in the area on Thursday, but they should clear out before first pitch. Sunday should also be in the clear, and also less humid. The only day that could be a problem would be Saturday night. It’s a little too far away to be sure of anything, but there could be rain in the area all night.