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Red Sox at White Sox Series Preview

The Red Sox look for revenge in Chicago.

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Chicago White Sox v. New York Yankees - Game Two Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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Southside Sox

The opponent in one sentence

The White Sox have performed below expectations this season and it looks like their hopes of an AL Central title will be more difficult to achieve than anticipated, but they are still on paper among the most talented teams in the American League.

Record

21-20

Head-to-head record

Red Sox 0, White Sox 3

Trend

Up-ish. The White Sox had their best stretch of baseball earlier in the month, a stretch that included their three-game sweep at Fenway, but more recently have been more or less treading water. They’re exactly .500 over their last 12 games, though they did take two of three over the weekend against the Yankees.

Pitching Matchups

5/24: Nick Pivetta vs. Dylan Cease, 8:10 PM ET

The Red Sox have their hottest pitcher on the mound to start off this series as the team looks for revenge for a sweep earlier this month. Pivetta did appear in that series, and while Boston obviously lost that game it was very much part of this current hot streak. The righty didn’t allow a run over six innings in that outing, striking out eight without issuing a walk. Including that outing, Pivetta has a 0.82 ERA over his last three starts, striking out 20 over 22 innings and, most importantly, issuing just a single walk in that stretch. He did a great job in that game against Chicago of walking the fine line between throwing strikes and avoiding hard contact. Coming off a complete game win over Houston, he’ll be looking to do the same this time out.

Cease has gone a long way this season of replacing the injured Lance Lynn in the top portion of Chicago’s rotation, sitting with a 3.09 ERA and a really impressive 2.17 FIP. The righty misses bats at an elite rate — 37 percent this season — which helps cancel out some modest control issues. The Red Sox did get a look at him earlier this month, scoring just one run over five innings. Boston should be trying to remain patient here, trying to get ahead in counts and hopefully drive up the pitch count in the process. Cease will feature a mid-90s fastball to go along with a pair of nasty breaking balls that each get a ton of whiffs.

5/25: Rich Hill vs. Lucas Giolito, 8:10 PM ET

It’s been a weird season for Hill, who spent some time on the bereavement list as well as the COVID list, and in between has roughly average results overall but from start-to-start has mostly been anything but. The veteran is coming off a tough outing in which he lasted only two innings while giving up four runs against the Mariners, with the Red Sox thinking he may have been tipping his pitches. Prior to that though, he hadn’t allowed a run over three straight starts, and then allowed two runs over six innings to the Rangers. As always with Hill, it’s all about the fastball command and making people respect that pitch before dropping one of his different curveball angles on hitters. If he’s predictable, we’ll see what we saw the last time out.

Giolito is the ace of this White Sox staff and was one of the AL Cy Young contenders coming into the season. He hasn’t done too much to remove himself from that conversation early this season, pitching to a 2.84 ERA over six starts, though with a FIP about a full run higher. The righty has had some home run issues this season, though his contact profile suggests he should start moving back in the right direction sooner than later. He’s yet to allow more than three runs in a start this season, and he’s allowed three runs total in his last two starts combined. Giolito will feature a low-to-mid 90s fastball along with a devastating changeup and a slider with the occasional curveball.

5/26: Michael Wacha vs. TBD, 8:10 PM ET

Wacha had been one of the very rare bright spots for the Red Sox early in the season, but then hit the injured list for the middle portion of May. He made his return over the weekend and was... fine. Wacha struck out three and walked three over 4 23 innings, but only allowed two runs as he continues to walk the tightrope and induce weak contact when needed. It’s still hard to see this totally keeping up, but until it stops we can just keeping riding this wave.

The White Sox have not yet announced a starter for the series finale, though Dallas Keuchel would be lined up to get the ball on Thursday. The lefty has had a brutal season with an ERA over 6.00, but the Red Sox helped him turn things around earlier this month when he allowed only two runs over six innings. He followed that up with five shutout innings against the Yankees, though fell back to Earth more recently in another start against New York. This is a different feeling Red Sox lineup than even a couple weeks ago, however, so it should be tougher for him if Keuchel does indeed make this start.

Old Friends

Yoán Moncada was the centerpiece of the Chris Sale trade and has turned into the everyday third baseman for the White Sox for the better part of the last half-decade. Coming off a recent injury, he just reentered this lineup.

Michael Kopech was another part of that trade, but for a second straight series it looks like the Red Sox will be missing out on facing their former prospect, who is finally healthy and starting in the bigs.

New York Yankees v Chicago White Sox Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Joe Kelly was a free agent this offseason but Boston opted to pass on him. Like Moncada, he was injured the last time these two faced off, but he’s back and in middle relief for Chicago.

Notable Position Players

Tim Anderson has been in the news of late for reasons not to do with his play but rather comments Josh Donaldson made towards him that resulted in the latter’s suspension, but Anderson’s play has been phenomenal. He puts his bat on everything, and often does so on a line to fall in for a hit. He’s got a 173 wRC+ early in this season.

Luis Robert is the most talented player on this Chicago roster and looks like a future MVP candidate. He’s another aggressive hitter, but there’s a ton of athleticism and power here, though the latter hasn’t quite shown up consistently this year.

José Abreu was the 2020 MVP, but he’s been more of an average hitter so far this season as he looks for his power to catch up to expectations.

Moncada, as mentioned above, has missed a chunk of this season, and he’s struggled to get going in the 12 games he has played.

Yasmani Grandal is typically a low-average hitter who more than makes up for it with walks and home runs, but the power just hasn’t been there so far this season.

Gavin Sheets has been just a bit below what you’re looking for from a corner bat with his contact, patience, and power, leading to disappointing results.

AJ Pollock has been way better in May than he was in April, cutting his strikeout rate way down while his power has also ticked up a bit.

Leury García has been one of the worst hitters in baseball this year with a 41 wRC+.

Andrew Vaughn has been one of Chicago’s better hitters this year but is hitting ninth these days for Tony La Russa reasons.

Bullpen Snapshot

Liam Hendriks has given up a few home runs this season which have dragged his numbers down a bit, but he is absolutely in the conversation for best reliever in the game and should be feared whenever he enters a close game.

Kendall Graveman was a free agent addition this past winter and while he hasn’t really missed bats this season he’s still been productive thanks to good command.

Injuries

Lance Lynn has been out all year with a knee injury, but he’s starting to throw again and could return in about a month, or maybe a bit less.

Eloy Jiménez tore his hamstring towards the end of April, but his recovery has gone well and he could return on the short end of his six-to-eight week timetable.

Garrett Crochet underwent Tommy John shortly before the season began and will miss the entire season.

Weather Forecast

While the opener for this series should be played without any weather-related issues, the latter two games are more borderline. They certainly don’t look doomed, but as of now forecasts have something around 50 percent chances of rain for both games, so it’ll be something to monitor for sure.


A big thank you to FanGraphs, and particularly their Roster Resource tool, as well as Baseball Savant for research.