Sweeps, sweeps are no fun unless you brought one for everyone. Luckily, both the Yankees and White Sox were swept to start the week, so something has to give.
Their Story So Far
At 3-8, the White Sox have the second-worst record in the American League, only ahead of the Royals. They come into Friday’s action having lost five straight to the Mariners and Rays. In 11 games, the Southsiders have allowed 77 runs, an alarming seven per game.
What makes the White Sox interesting? Shortstop Tim Anderson is hitting .514 through 38 plate appearances. Eloy Jimenez is the second-most-hyped rookie in the AL and Yoan Moncada still has some high upside. Jose Abreu may be the best first-base upgrade available on the trade market this summer. If you’re looking for pitching potential, look to their IL or the Minor Leagues.
Top pitching prospect Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery after his elbow blew out in his first month in The Show last season. He’s done for the year.
Meanwhile, RHP Ian Hamilton (right shoulder inflammation) and journeyman outfielder Jon Jay (right hip strain) are on 10-day injured list.
The Yankees haven’t announced starters for Friday and Sunday, so I tried to fill in the blanks.
Friday (7:05 PM ET): J.A. Happ (vs. White Sox) vs. Lucas Giolito (vs. Yankees)
Since the start of 2018, here is where Lucas Giolito ranks among qualified starters
- 2nd worst in fWAR (0.2)
- Worst ERA (6.10)
- 2nd worst FIP (5.44)
- 2nd worst xFIP (5.32, behind only teammate Reynaldo Lopez)
- 2nd worst walk rate (11.6%)
- Worst K-BB rate (5.1%)
Giolito has been positively dreadful since a promising Chicago debut in 2017. He’s still just 24 years old, but the numbers are staggering. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has the height of a Yankees reliever but nowhere near the results. His strikeouts have increased in the small sample of 2019, but he’s still walking more than four per nine.
He sits around 93 mph with his fastball he throws more than half the time while using a changeup, curve and slider nearly equally among offspeed offerings. The four-seamer has a significant rise in spin rate (2094 rpm in 2018 vs. 2197 rpm in 2019), though that may be a tracking error with him eschewing his lower-spin sinker.
Saturday (1:05 PM ET): CC Sabathia (vs. White Sox) vs. Ivan Nova (vs. Yankees)
Welcome back my friend to the show that never ends. Since Nova was traded from New York in 2016, he’s had one appearance against the Yanks, beating them in Pittsburgh the following April. This will be his triumphant return to the Bronx.
Nova is now a veteran innings eater after turning 32 in January. He had one great start (7 IP, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K) vs. the Indians and one awful one against the world-beating Mariners. I don’t know if you can really judge him based off those results, though his velocity is down about one mph across the board, his fastball sitting at 91.7 mph.
He hasn’t changed his approach too much from his time in New York, still throwing fastballs and sinkers about two-thirds of the time. However, he’s lessened his curveball usage this year and re-introduced his slider, which he hasn’t used since 2012-13. He also uses his mid-80s changeup more often than ever at 11.5 percent.
Sunday (1:05 PM ET) Domingo German (vs. White Sox) vs. Carlos Rodon (vs. Yankees)
If the White Sox have an above-average starter, it’s Rodon. The former No. 3 overall pick is now an arbitration-eligible veteran of 26 years old in his fifth year in the bigs.
In the past, he’s been a four-pitch starter: Four-seamer, slider, changeup and sinker. This season, he’s reduced it to two, throwing the four-seamer and slider for nearly 94 percent of his pitches. It’s led to a dramatic increase in his strikeout rate with 24 in 16 innings, though his walks are still around four per nine. This change in his arsenal could be the fix that unlocks his potential, or it could be a red herring of early season results.
Through three starts, he has a 3.38 ERA and has struck out at least six batters in each outing. However, he walked five in the last game against Tampa after just one in each of his first two starts. Last Aug. 27, Rodon held the Yankees to two hits (and four walks) over seven innings to earn a victory in the Bronx. Now New York can get some revenge.
- Leury Garcia, RF (.325/.357/.375, 106 wRC+)
- Tim Anderson, SS (.514/.526/.730, 255 wRC+)
- Jose Abreu, DH (.196/.245/.435, 81 wRC+)
- Yonder Alonso, 1B (.121/.326/.212, 69 wRC+)
- Wellington Castillo, C (.095/.367/.095, 69 wRC+)
- Yoan Moncada, 3B (.319/.360/.617, 166 wRC+)
- Eloy Jimenez, LF (.279/.326/.302, 79 wRC+)
- Jose Rondon, 2B (.250/.318/.500, 123 wRC+)
- Adam Engel, CF (.133/.133/.400, 31 wRC+)
This is a lineup more designed for a left-handed starter. With a righty on the mound, you can guarantee Alonso will be in the lineup while Castillo moves down, Moncada moves up and LH slugger Daniel Palka (0-for-25 this year) often joins the starting nine. Also on the bench is catcher James McCann (101 wRC+) and INF Yolmer Sanchez (-35 wRC+).
The White Sox have a veteran duo at the end of their bullpen with Alex Colome closing and Kelvin Herrera setting up. Beyond those two righties,
famed Hamilton rival right-hander Ryan Burr, 33-year-old righty Nate Jones and left-hander Jace Fry sit in middle relief.
In long relief, the White Sox right now have rookie Jose Ruiz and veteran Manny Banuelos, who, shameless plug, I wrote about earlier this week after a stellar outing. After optioning former Yankees prospect Caleb Frare on Thursday, they’ll likely call up a fresh bullpen arm for the series.
If we see a lot of Colome and Herrera, it’s a bad sign for the Yankees. That gives you even more reason to root for Banuelos to make his Yankee Stadium debut.
Matchups to watch
Yankees against beatable starters
After facing three strong starters in Houston, the Yankees get a gift with the White Sox in town. They don’t get their two worst starters thus far, Reynaldo Lopez and Ervin Santana, but the top three aren’t a ton better. The middle of the bullpen is ripe for the picking, but the Bombers have to get there first.
Adam Engel vs. the wall
Please. Stop. Robbing. Yankee. Homers.