White Sox Series Preview: Sox Head North for Division Showdown

Give a team some time and they might use it to their advantage. Entering August, Chicago White Sox (21-13) sat at 3-4 in the record book with a struggling pitching staff and being outscored by eight runs. During those early games, the Sox did at times show glimpses of promise in their pitching and hitting but it did not result in many wins. The team hunkered down and decided to become the best team in August after a disappointing July.

So far this month, White Sox have gone 18-9 and hold a +42 run differential. They are also tied for the fourth-best record in Major League Baseball and are at the top of many hitting and pitching leaderboards.

Chicago White Sox highlights from August include:

  • A seven-game win streak
  • Back-to-back-to-back-back-to-back home runs
  • A ranchise record of home runs in a month
  • A home run in 4-consecutive at-bats from Jose Abreu
  • No-Hitter
  • Multiple walk-offs

It was a strong performance for this young Chicago White Sox team in August. Unfortunately, the Twins have never been an “easy win” for the Southsiders. Twins won 13 of the 19 matchups last season. They also outscored the White Sox, 125 to 65. Chicago has not won a season series since they went 12-7 against Minnesota in 2016.

The White Sox will close out August and enter September with a 3-game series against division rival Minnesota Twin. Last month, the Twins won two of three while putting up 27 runs and outscoring the White Sox by eight runs.

Nelson Cruz

Nelson pitched should be intentionally walked every time he steps to plate this series. The 40-year-old has been playing well this season and has brutalized the Sox in recent years.

Since the start of 2019, Cruz is .452 (33 for 73) with 20 runs, seven doubles, 11 home runs, 34 runs batted in, 12 walks, and 12 strikeouts in 19 games against the White Sox. That equates to a whopping .529 on-base percentage and 1.000 slugging percentage.

Although Ricky Renteria has listed three of his best pitchers (Giolito, Keuchel, and López) as probably starters, it might not be enough to stop Cruz. He has 25 hits in 71 career at-bats against those three. Nine of those 25 have left the yard and had helped driven in 18 runs while also posting a 1.180 OPS along the way. One bright spot is he has struck out 13 times and grounded into two double plays against the trio.

Mound Matchups

  • Monday, 7:10 CT: RHP Lucas Giolito (3-2, 3.09) vs. LHP Rich Hill (1-1, 3.55)
    • Giolito pitched on Opening Day against the Twins. He struggled and did not make it past the fourth inning. His line: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R/ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR.
    • Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler have combined for six home runs and 10 RBI against Giolito.
    • This will be just Hill’s fourth start of the season. The 40-year old has gone for 1-1 in 3 starts and has yet to go longer than five innings.
    • Only four Sox batters have experience against Hill. They are 8 for 27 with a double, three home runs, six RBI, six walks, eight strikeouts, and three HBP.
      • Jose Abreu is 1 for 1 with a double, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch.
  • Tuesday, 7:10 CT: LHP Dallas Keuchel (5-2, 2.70) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (11-5. 4.01 in 2019)
    • Keuchel went 5.1 IP on July 25 against the Twins. He got the win after giving up just three hits and two earned runs while only striking out one batter.
    • Of the eight Twins that have faced Keuchel, just three (Adrianza, Cruz, Sano) have logged hits. The team as a whole has a .231 against Keuchel.
    • Michael Pineda is making is 2020 debut.
    • Pineda’s last outing vs. White Sox (August 27, 2019): 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R/ER, BB, 8 K, HR.
      • Tim Anderson hit the home run. Anderson is 4 for 9 in his lifetime against Pineda with 2 doubles, two home runs, five RBI, and three strikeouts.
  • Wednesday, 7:10 CT: RHP Reynaldo López (0-1. 9.00) vs. RHP José Berríos (2-3, 4.75)
    • López wants to leave his last start (July 26) against the Twin in the past. He did not make it out of the first inning after allowing four runs in 0.2 innings.
    • Current Twins batters hit .267 (27/101) with 15 extra-base hits, 22 RBI, seven walks, and 12 strikeouts against López
    • Berríos is in the same boat as López. On July 24, Berríos gave up seven runs in four innings against the White Sox.
    • Berríos holds an impressive 6.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio against this White Sox roster.
    • Current Sox batters are 53 for 211 with 10 doubles, 10 home runs, 35 runs batted in, and 55 strikeouts.
      • James McCann is 8 for 24 with two doubles, four home runs, 10 RBI, and five strikeouts in lifetime against Berríos.

Who’s Hot

  • Dane Dunning– 5 no-hit innings pitched, BB, 7 strikeouts in KC series.
  • Luis Robert– 5/12, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, BB, K in KC series.
  • Nick Madrigal– 5/8, 2 RBI, R, SB in KC series.
    • He returned Saturday to the team.
  • Tim Anderson- 5/15, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R, 4 K in KC series.

Who’s Not

  • José Abreu– 3/13, 2B, R, BB, 5 K in KC series.
  • Eloy Jiménez- 2/11, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 K in KC series.
  • Danny Mendick– 1/8, 2B, 6 K in KC series.
  • Zack Burdi– 1 G, 0.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R/ER, BB, K, 2 HR, BS, L, in KC series.
  • Jimmy Cordero– 3 G, 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, K, HR in KC Series

Final Thought

A true test for a contending ballclub is how they decide to perform against a division rival. This has not always come easy for the Chicago White Sox. This young team has positioned themselves to be a contender this season but needs to ride the wave into September too. Over their final 26 games, 18 are played against an AL Central opponent.

Featured Photo: Getty Images


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