- Patrick Gunn
Previewing Chicago White Sox: Yankees Next Opponent
The Yankees are in the midst of a stretch of 23 consecutive games without a day off. A majority of those games come against two teams – the Orioles and the White Sox. The Bombers have already had a taste of Baltimore but playing a non-division rival in that short of a timeline is unusual. And the White Sox have a solid roster despite underachieving a bit. Here’s a quick preview of the Yankees’ next adversary.
ChiSox Season Thus Far:
The White Sox sit in second place right now at 15-14, behind the first place Twins in the AL Central. Chicago won six of its first eight games and then proceeded to lose eight games in a row. They’ve had their moments, including a hard-earned sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway last weekend and a split against the solid Angels.
Injuries, Injuries, Injuries:
The White Sox’ season hit a snag early when several key contributors got hurt. All-Star Lance Lynn is out with a right tendon knee tear. Hard-thrower Dylan Crochet had Tommy John surgery in April. Eloy Jiménez is out for several weeks after a torn hamstring. Southpaw Aaron Bummer just landed on the IL with a right knee strain. Andrew Vaughn just started a rehab assignment. Yoan Moncada and Joe Kelly are back but they both missed the first month of the year.
Chicago has found help in other places on the roster, but it still lost a ton of talent missing time across the roster.
Scoring has become a struggle for what should be a solid lineup. The injuries haven’t helped, but key contributors like Jose Abreu (.292 wOBA), Yasmani Grandal (63 wRC+, .247 wOBA, and newcomers A.J. Pollock (48 wRC+) and Josh Harrison (58 wRC+) have hurt a team with players coming in and out of the lineup. They’ve also needed more at-bats from Gavin Sheets and Leury Garcia, both with walk rates below five and a half and slugging percentages below .365. It all adds up to the fourth least valuable lineup in baseball behind only the Tigers, Reds, and Red Sox, according to FanGraphs.
Now, not all is doom and gloom. Abreu is averaging an exit velocity of 94.4 mph en route to a .561 xSLG, so he’ll likely add to his home run total if he can raise his launch angle (8.7 degrees). Grandal is still walking at a 15.1% clip. Not to mention the Red Sox getting healthy and being able to play Vaughn and Jiménez consistently in the outfield will help.
Expect a Low Scoring Series:
Like the Yankees, the White Sox has a stout rotation from some of the usual suspects and some surprises. Lucas Giolito is having another stellar season, no surprises there. Dylan Cease has taken a leap, ranking in the 95th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xSLG, and xwOBA. He’s also struck out 34.3% of batters. Michael Kopech is healthy and throwing well (.198 xBA, 2.90 xERA and a miniscule 0.93 ERA), and even Vince Velazquez has an ERA under four. They’ve been able to manage Lynn’s injury and Dallas Keuchel’s brutal start.
Opposing Player to Watch: Tim Anderson
Anderson’s been carrying the lineup alongside Luis Robert this season. He’s second on the team in fWAR with 1.1 only trailing Cease. He’s not walking at all (1.9% BB rate) but he’s also making contact most of the time (10.8 K%), hitting the ball hard (90.1 average exit velocity), and turning that into power (.641 xSLG, .520 actual SLG).
His defense has been less alright, but he more that makes up for that on offense. And Yankees fans should remember his swing very well.