AL Central Big 3: The offenses

Big boost: Thanks in part to the acquisition of Yasmani Grandal, the White Sox now trail only the Twins in fWAR among its offensive roster. (@WhiteSox)


It’s been quite the interesting offseason in the AL Central.

The White Sox have added a number of solid veterans to its young core, while also granting extensions for veteran slugger José Abreu and phenom outfielder Luis Robert. The Twins added Josh Donaldson to its already potent offense while adding rotation depth in the forms of Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. Cleveland, in the meantime, has basically maintained their status quo with the exception of trading pricey hurler Corey Kluber for reliever Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields Jr. as they hope to maintain their success by simply staying healthy.

Of course, based on last season, there’s quite a bit of separation among the three teams: The Twins are coming off a 101-61 season, Cleveland a 93-69 record, and the White Sox a 72-89 mark. But as there should unquestionably be some better bunching at the top this season (PECOTA projects 93, 86 and 82 wins, respectively), we’re ramping up to the start of Cactus League play with three looks at the Big 3 ball clubs, on offense, pitching and intangibles. 

Projected 2020 stats are per Steamer, and players’ ages listed in parentheses are as of Opening Day.


Minnesota Twins

Outfield
Eddie Rosario, LF (27) .284/.320/.499, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 5 SB, 2.4 fWAR
Byron Buxton, CF (26) .262/.317/.461, 20 HR, 73 RBI, 23 SB, 3.2 fWAR
Max Kepler, RF (28) .260/.343/.490, 30 HR, 93 RBI, 6 SB, 3.7 fWAR
Marwin Gonzalez (31) .269/.334/.444, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB, 0.8 fWAR
Jake Cave (27) .256/.315/.423, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 0.1 fWAR

Infield
Miguel Sano, 1B (26) .246/.337/.519, 37 HR, 97 RBI, 1 SB, 2.3 fWAR
Luis Arraez, 2B (22) .312/.369/.415, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 6 SB, 2.5 fWAR
Jorge Polanco, SS (26) .281/.344/.453, 19 HR, 82 RBI, 7 SB, 2.9 fWAR
Josh Donaldson, 3B (34) .267/.379/.527, 36 HR, 103 RBI, 4 SB, 5.3 fWAR
Ehire Adrianza (30) .256/.317/.389, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 0.2 fWAR

Catchers
Mitch Garver (29) .254/.333/.464, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 1 SB, 1.9 fWAR
Alex Avila (33) .214/.342/.379, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB, 1.1 fWAR

Designated Hitter
Nelson Cruz (39) .282/.363/.547, 40 HR, 114 RBI, 1 SB, 2.9 fWAR

Certainly, some regression is expected after nearly everyone on Minnesota’s roster enjoyed career years offensively in 2019. The above numbers reflect this, especially when looking at Garver’s anticipated drop-off from last year’s .273/.365/.630 slash line with 31 homers. Even so, this is an extremely dangerous offense and arguably the best in the American League. With the acquisition of Donaldson, third catcher and contact maestro Willians Austudillo will likely begin in the minors, but should still receive some playing time if an injury occurs.The only weakness to this offense may be the ability to manufacture runs if they’re not hitting bombs, as the only player who’s projected to steal in double digits is the oft-injured Buxton. The above roster above posted an aggregate 3.5 defensive bWAR last year, spearheaded by Donaldson (1.7) and Buxton (1.3, despite missing 75 games); the defense’s Achilles heel last year was Rosario (-1.1).


Cleveland

Outfield
Domingo Santana, LF (24) .248/.345/.441, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 5 SB, 0.4 fWAR
Oscar Mercado, CF (25) .256/.313/.402, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 15 SB, 1.0 fWAR
Greg Allen, RF (27) .246/.310/.362, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 7 SB, -0.1 fWAR
Jordan Luplow (26) .250/.333/.449, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 4 SB, 0.7 fWAR
Delino DeShields Jr. (27) .231/.313/.338, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 9 SB, 0.2 fWAR

Infield
Carlos Santana, 1B (33) .260/.375/.482, 29 HR, 93 RBI, 3 SB, 2.7 fWAR
Cesar Hernandez, 2B (29) .277/.355/.399, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 9 SB, 2.0 fWAR
Francisco Lindor, SS (26) .289/.354/.531, 35 HR, 95 RBI, 22 SB, 6.0 fWAR
José Ramírez, 3B (27) .277/.362/.523, 31 HR, 101 RBI, 23 SB, 5.1 fWAR|
Christian Arroyo (24) .247/.301/.395, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 0.1 fWAR

Catchers
Roberto Perez (31) .219/.303/.399, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 1 SB, 2.2 fWAR
Sandy Leon (31) .217/.278/.346, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB, 0.5 fWAR

Designated Hitter
Franmil Reyes (24) .260/.329/.517, 36 HR, 93 RBI, 1 SB, 1.5 fWAR

There’s still some uncertainty in this lineup, particularly in the outfield. Jake Bauers is not expected by FanGraphs to make the Opening Day roster thanks to the recent signing of Domingo Santana, but he still has a shot to beat out either Allen or DeShields in spring training. When Reyes does spend some time in the outfield this year, he and Santana could be the modern-day defensive equivalent of Greg Luzinski and Dave Kingman at the corners. If the Indians get off to a rocky start, expect trade talks regarding Lindor to intensify. Offensively, the strength of this team is clearly the infield with Lindor, Ramírez and Santana. Defensively, this roster posted an aggregate 6.3 defensive bWAR last year, led by Perez (2.6) and Lindor (1.7); the weakest defensive player in 2019 on this year’s roster was easily Domingo Santana, with a -1.9 mark. This team is loaded with switch-hitters and platoon possibilities, so Cleveland could definitely post match-up difficulties to opposing pitchers. With several guys capable of double-digit steals, the Indians should be able to manufacture runs when the offense isn’t entirely clicking.    


Chicago White Sox

Outfield
Eloy Jiménez, LF (24) .279/.329/.520, 33 HR, 95 RBI, 1 SB, 2.7 fWAR
Luis Robert, CF (22) .273/.317/.488, 26 HR, 83 RBI, 23 SB, 2.9 fWAR
Nomar Mazara, RF (24) .255/.318./.467, 25 HR, 77 RBI, 3 SB, 1.4 fWAR
Leury García (29) .261/.300/.374, 8 HR, 39 RBI, 10 SB, 0.4 fWAR
Adam Engel (28) .221/.281/.352, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB, 0.0 fWAR

Infield
José Abreu, 1B (33) .275/.332/.497, 32 HR, 101 RBI, 3 SB, 1.8 fWAR
Nick Madrigal, 2B (23) .287/.337/.392, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 19 SB, 1.5 fWAR
Tim Anderson, SS (26) .275/.308/.441, 21 HR, 79 RBI, 17 SB, 2.0 fWAR
Yoán Moncada, 3B (24) .267/.340/.475, 27 HR, 86 RBI, 12 SB, 4.0 fWAR
Danny Mendick (26) .243/.310/.376, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 0.2 fWAR

Catchers
Yasmani Grandal (31) .239/.358/.459, 25 HR, 73 RBI, 3 SB, 5.0 fWAR
James McCann (29) .238/.297/.390, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 1 SB, 0.3 fWAR

Designated Hitter
Edwin Encarnación (37) .246/.346/.499, 35 HR, 92 RBI, 2 SB, 1.9 fWAR

Because of their high BABIP last year, Steamer expects Anderson’s and Moncada’s batting averages to drop significantly in 2020. And because of the volatility of rookies and youngsters, it’s hard to project guys like Robert and Madrigal will fare when they make it to the big show. Thus, there’s a great degree of variance between upsides and floors for the White Sox overall. The numbers seem respectable for Robert but a little down for Madrigal; of these three teams, the White Sox are the only team to expect to have two rookies earn regular playing time. The defense posted an aggregate of -0.6 defensive bWAR, despite the additions of Madrigal, Robert and Grandal. Unsurprisingly, the biggest culprits are Jiménez and Abreu, but the White Sox’s defensive value should still be higher in 2020 providing that Anderson commits fewer errors and Moncada continues his improvement at the hot corner. As a side note, while FanGraphs expects García to begin the Opening Day roster as the team’s second baseman, I have Madrigal listed as the starter as there’s a chance he’s given an extension and/or enjoys a solid spring.


As the numbers above reflect a combination of offense and defense, the Twins clearly have the best combined non-pitching roster among these three teams, at 29.3 fWAR. If Minnesota’s hitters avoid their expected regression offensively, that number could easily climb another five points or more. The White Sox actually rank behind the Twins at 24.1 fWAR despite their unproven youth, thanks in part to its dynamic catching tandem of Grandal and McCann. Interestingly, Minnesota’s acquisition of Donaldson essentially makes up the projected fWAR difference between the White Sox and Twins — at least offensively. Cleveland has the weakest roster offensively of the three teams, despite having an excellent infield on paper. That team is hampered by its lack of outfield thump, as the combined 2.2 fWAR in that area brings their expected total to 22.3 (despite having the best defensive numbers and two of the best players in the division). For the White Sox to rank second in the division offensively isn’t a slap in the face, as the Twins are arguably the best offense in the American League, if not all of baseball.


 

 

 

 

 

               

 

          

Six Pack of Stats: White Sox 7, Cleveland 1

Pitching and Offense: It all came together in a terrific afternoon ballgame that resulted in a series split with Cleveland. (FanGraphs)

Masterful pitching and flaming bats spark a series-split afternoon victory

Last night’s late-innings offense, which was beautifully complemented by an outstanding pitching performance by Reynaldo López, carried over into this early afternoon’s ballgame! With that wonderful combination, the Chicago White Sox split the series against Cleveland!

1

First and foremost, ReyLo only gave up one hit in his complete-game performance! Can we please acknowledge how incredible Reynaldo has been for the second-half of the season!? It’s utter insanity, but I am totally here for it. Keep it up, ReyLo!

3

With his first complete game of the season, López joins Lucas Giolito and Iván Nova as the third White Sox pitcher to throw a complete game in the 2019 season. Funnily enough, it’s a cool 3-2-1 sequence with Gio, Nova, and ReyLo in the quantity of nine-inning games pitched, respectively.

7

For the Sox’s hitting perspective, the Good Guys put up seven runs on the board, and seven guys recorded hits to make that run total possible. Surprisingly enough, Welington Castillo and Adam Engel accounted for five of the seven RBIs. Unsurprisingly, Yolmer Sánchez had the other two RBIs. 🙂

12

The seven runs scored were based off of 12 hits. This offense can be all-or-nothing at times, like our neuron’s action potential, but it sure is fun to watch when the offensive is producing big like this!

22

With 22 games left of the season, this team has the (action) potential to do something great and to keep it interesting for the team and the fans; let’s hope that it happens!

62

The South Siders have accumulated 62 wins, and if they could get to 75, that would definitely be something to end the season with this year. It’s a long-shot goal, but it’s possible.

Gamethread: White Sox at Cleveland

Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen

After an exciting but ultimately disappointing finish last night (if you missed it, Janice has got you covered with a recap. The White Sox are looking to bounce back and split this series with the Tribe and push them behind Oakland and out of Wild Card contention.

Reynaldo López has the honors for the Good Guys, and he’s looking to redeem an ugly performance against the Braves where he was unable to make it out of the first inning. Danny Mendick will make his first start at third today, with Moncada as the DH.

Rookie Zach Plesac will toe the rubber for the Tribe, and his one previous outing against the White Sox handed him his first career loss as Tim Anderson launched a solo shot in the fourth inning.  Hopefully Timmy can continue to haunt him and we can rock and roll our way out of Cleveland on a high note.

Starting Lineups:

Danny Mendick starting at third base might alleviate some of the suffering endured at the hands of Welington Castillo
Of course Cleveland makes us look at Franmil Reyes and relive the sting of last night’s home run – you’ll have to click to expand to see their lineup.

The game is on NBCSN/ WGN 720, and out of market fans can catch it on MLB Network.

Check back after the game as I summarize a comedy of errors the happenings at Progressive Field and bring you a much-hyped video of my dog.

Will it Roll? Nah. Sox steamed by Cleveland, 8-6

Watch me crank it, watch me roll: Tim Anderson has a three-hit night including a two-run blast in the ninth inning for added theatrics, (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


In something that’s highly relatable as someone who didn’t grow up with siblings, on Wednesday night Jason Benetti and Steve Stone made up a game called “Will it Roll?” which features watching baseballs roll errantly off the netting at Progressive Field. This game offered a healthy distraction in-between innings to the mind-numbing ennui that usually accompanies watching Chicago play a team like Cleveland — especially when the White Sox lose, as they did tonight, 8-6.

The game itself featured plenty of strange plays, including a bizarre fielder’s choice, and some baserunning gaffes, resulting in rundowns. Benetti described tonight’s events as “bordering on the occult.” In a start that echoed much like his last, Iván Nova only lasted 4 ⅓ innings. Neither Nova nor Cleveland starter Justin Bieber really had their stuff early tonight; we saw a what could have been the start of a pitcher’s duel, but not necessarily the fun kind.

Finally, any hopes for a storybook ninth-inning rally were otherwise lambasted by a stellar catch, courtesy of Oscar Mercado.

In the bottom of the first, leadoff menace Francisco Lindor singled; Mercado then smacked a double, pushing the speedy Lindor to third. Up walked notorious bat-licker Yasiel Puig; he grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Mercado was caught in a rundown (the first of a few in this game) by Tim Anderson, scoring Lindor. 1-0, Cleveland. Yeah, already.

The Sox would strike in the second inning, starting with the leadoff walk to James McCann. Eloy Jiménez then destroyed a knuckle-curve from Bieber with some solid contact, pushing McCann to third. Yolmer Sánchez kept the party going with a sac fly, scoring McCann and pushing Jiménez to third. Yolmer’s 35th RBI of the year knotted the game, 1-1. 

However, the tie wasn’t enough for Zack Collins, who has shown up this Cleveland series, hopefully earning him more playing time! (Pretty please?) Collins singled, and Eloy ran home. The Good Guys led (wow, it feels great to say that), 2-1. 

Cleveland’s half of the second began with a leadoff double from Franmil Reyes, who apparently hit the ball so hard, Leury García seemed to lose sight of it. Nova’s control turned a little slippery and Jake Bauers walked, and when the speedy Reyes saw an opportunity to steal third, he did. Roberto Perez grounded into a DP, which got Nova some outs but unfortunately tied the game, as Reyes scored. 

Ugh. Small ball. What’s that, anyway?

The third inning brought more woes for Nova, who was picked apart by this Cleveland lineup. Mercado, who will prove to be a major pain in the ass later, singled; a line drive double to center by Carlos Santana followed that, scoring Wheels Mercado and making it 3-2, Cleveland.

We finally saw Not-Justin’s first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, while Nova’s fourth would not go nearly as well. Perez singled, and it’s deflected by García. Yu Cheng then singled to left, Perez scooting on over to second. Mercado hit one to the gap between a scrambling García and Daniel Palka, and Perez scored. At this point, Mercado’s 3-for-3, and I’m sick of him already

Yeah, it’s now 4-2, Cleveland, or something. 

Some weird stuff happened in the fifth, which I guess is a good time for weird stuff to happen. Thematically, it would set us up for the rest of the story, right? We see some weird shit, go to a denouement, then we’re given the conclusion? Yeah, I took maybe one film class. 

Zack Collins walked, and then on a grounder, García beat the throw to first to avoid the double play. Tim Anderson doubled to the opposite field, specifically to Puig. Nick Capra gave García the red light, because there’s no way in hell you run home on Puig. 

José Abreu then reached on a weeeeird fielder’s choice, 5-2-5-1. Aaaand then Leury’s caught in a rundown, but at least Timmy’s on third! But Yoán Moncada strikes out. WEIRD.

We’re given a little break from the weird in the bottom of the fifth; Puig singles on a shaaaarp line drive to left field. And then Reyes decides to make things a little less weird, and a little less fun, too. 

It’s 6-2, Cleveland. Meh.

Nothing happens for a few innings, which is great, but I’d like to mention that Bieber eventually found his stuff and was cruising. 

Josh Osich, however, not so much. *That part* of the Cleveland lineup found him, and quickly. A walk was issued to Reyes; then 2019 White Sox killer Jordan Luplow singled on a grounder to left field, moving Reyes to third. And that’s when Chang did something very Luplow-like and also singled to left field, scoring two. Chang also did something very Leury García-like, and got caught in a rundown.

At 8-2, Cleveland, this game is still in reach, right? RIGHT?!

In the top of the 8th, Tim Anderson singled. He was having a great night, by the way (and it may even get better, foreshadowing!)

Next, in a great, patient at-bat, Abreu hit his 29th homer of the season off of Nick Goody, who had just replaced Shane Bieber (and thank GOD or whomever, by the way). José adjusted a bit and pulled an inside pitch and BOOM, he launched it the heck outta here. And just like that, the lead is cut significantly, to 8-4, Cleveland.

Oh, but we ain’t done yet. Fast forward to the top of the ninth, where we see Danny Mendick’s first major league at-bat! And it ended as quickly as it started, as he struck out swinging. 

As anticlimactic as that was, García hit a single next (a 2-for-5 night!). And that’s when Anderson finds a Brad Hand high fastball and … and … and ….

That, my friends, is a three-hit night for Mr. Stick Talk himself. And his 15th homer. And we’ve got ourselves a ballgame, 8-6 Cleveland, with the Pale Hose knocking. 

And here come in the theatrics.

You can say Brad nearly … handed … us the game. (Full joke credit goes to LWilz on this one.) Abreu kept the momentum going with a line drive single; Moncada then walked. And by now, my dog’s pissed at me for paying too much attention to this game so she starts putting her head on my computer’s keyboard, as James McCann singled, loading the bases! 

Are you screaming yet? You will be. Here comes dat Eloy!

Oh. Um. 

OK. 

Well. 

Yikes. 

Awkward. 

Cleveland found that elusive third out in the ninth inning, by getting pinch-hitter Ryan Goins to strike out swinging.

Like I mentioned earlier, Nova’s start was … not great, and he looked very similar to his Atlanta outing, where he barely even made it four innings before being pulled. Nova gave up 11 hits; he’s prone to give up hits, however, as he is second in the AL in this statistic. The Cleveland lineup made solid contact with his fastball-cutter-change combo, and they made him pay dearly. Nova gave up six runs, all earned, walking two and striking out one, falling to 9-12 on the season.

Justin … err … I mean, Shane Bieber did not really have the cooking gas either to begin with, but later found his stuff, enough to go seven innings, giving up six hits and two earned. He walked two, but struck out nine, improving to 13-7.

Are you still watching that Mercado catch video? Don’t worry. I kind of am, too. Feel better about yourself soon, and bounce back for tomorrow’s matchup, which features the plucky Reynaldo López (8-12, 5.41) against Zach Plesac (7-5, 3.61). 

Turn on incognito mode on your Google Chrome at work and find tomorrow’s 12:10 CST game on NBC Sports Chicago; if the radio works out better for you, set your dial to WGN 720. For your SSHP coverage, look no further than the affable Lauren Wilz.

BONUS CONTENT: (Was I being too hard on Leury here? He did make this excellent grab in the third. I try not to be too mean. Sometimes.)


Six Pack of Stats: Cleveland 8, White Sox 6

Power to the People: Between the two ball clubs, there were three, two-run blasts late in the game. (FanGraphs)

The White Sox’s late-inning blasts are not enough against Cleveland in a suspenseful, drama-filled ending

After a promising to finish to last night’s ballgame, the Chicago White Sox couldn’t carry over their offensive heat into tonight’s baseball game. Instead, Cleveland found the power and ran … until the Good Guys took the power back in the late innings! Unfortunately, the Sox’s power wasn’t enough — and a straight-up robbery by Oscar Mercado certainly did not help — in this 8-6 loss to Cleveland. Although it’s not as much fun to look at the numbers after this almost-win turned loss, there still is a lot of good to come from the game.

.019

But first, the bad. The 2019 season has not been kind to Daniel Palka. In 53 ABs of the short-stinted season, Palka has a .019 batting average (.152 OPS) — a significant drop-off from his 2018 .240 BA, which consisted of 27 home runs and 67 RBIs for the power numbers.

1

In his first major-league at-bat, Danny Mendick — leading off the top of the ninth inning — struck out. But have no fear, Mendick has a whole lot of upside that he has to showcase for the month of September.

3

Now, the good. A pair of three’s wrote the story for Tim Anderson and Eloy Jiménez. Both players reached base twice via the single and double. For the third time of the night, Eloy reached on a hit-by-pitch in the eighth. TA7 showed some STICK TALK with a two-run blast in the ninth for his third hit of the night!

8

Okay, back to the bad. In their last nine games, the Good Guys have dropped eight of them. Of course, the team does not have any playoff implication, but this needs to be addressed. Abreu has the team contending in 2020, so this team must learn how to consistently win. The South Siders definitely know how to win, but a few ( or a lot, I wouldn’t mind) substantial winning streaks (four-plus games) would be nice to have throughout the next season.

29

Some good! José Abreu continued to rake. TA7 on first and nobody out during the top of the eighth inning, Mal Tiempo launched his 29th home run of the season to left-center field! Bonus Stat: That was Pito’s 400th extra-base hit of his career!

74

A little bit of both: Eloy Jiménez, our beloved No. 74, is awarded another stat in this Six Pack. Unfortunately, not in a beneficial way. With one out and bases loaded in the ninth inning, Eloy crushed a ball just to the left of center field, but Oscar Mercado made a miraculous effort to catch the sinking ball on the fly. Had that ball dropped, it would have been a bases-clearing double to give the White Sox a 9-8 lead. With a tip of The Big Baby’s batting helmet, Eloy will remember this moment and will capitalize on it in the future.

Gamethread: White Sox at Cleveland

Bossa Nova: The righty enters September, hoping to continue a jazzy second half . (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)

Last night, Eloy Jiménez said hello to Cleveland with a two-home run game, catapulting the Chicago White Sox to a thrilling 6-5 victory at Progressive Field. Dylan Cease struck out 11 to complement the offense, resulting in the sweet release from a seven-game losing streak. 

Tonight, the White Sox look to create another type of streak, by potentially winning two games consecutively. To help this effort, Chicago sends Iván Nova to the mound. Nova wasn’t super in his last start, which was against Atlanta on August 30th: In four innings pitched, he gave up eight hits and five runs (four of them earned), striking out none. However, his August overall was stellar, with a 1.95 ERA in 37 innings pitched. 

Nova’s Cleveland counterpart is Shane Bieber. The 24-year-old All-Star righty has a respectable 12-7 record, 4.2 WAR, and 3.27 ERA. He also carries an impressive 1.007 WHIP and 224 strikeouts into tonight’s game, placing him third in the American League in both of those categories. Interesting to note: Yoán Moncada, batting cleanup tonight, is slashing .556/.600/1.333 in 10 plate appearances vs. Bieber.

Speaking of lineups …

A streak has to start somewhere, right? Catch tonight’s 6:10 p.m. CST start televised on NBC Sports Chicago; for a more auditory experience, tune into WGN 720. 

Know Your Enemy: Cleveland

(@Indians)


When we last saw Cleveland, we took three of four at home in late May/early June, putting both teams in a tie for second place in the AL Central with 29-30 records.

Since then, a lot has improved for Cleveland, and not much has gone right for the White Sox.

The Wahoos improved from a league-worst bullpen to a league leading 3.43 ERA, coming in at 101 fewer runs allowed than the AL average of 283, with a meager 182. Shortstop Francisco Lindor Is hitting .297 post All-Star Break, and is destroying right-handed pitching. Second baseman and Northbrook native Jason Kipnis has raised his batting average by about 50 points since we last saw him, and the two of them have .980 and .989 fielding percentages, respectively. (By contrast, Tim Anderson’s fielding percentage this season is .944, lowest by a position player in the majors). 

The White Sox had a rather forgettable June, going 11-13 and not really doing anything important other than claiming Jimmy Cordero off waivers. Jimmy Biceps has been my favorite bullpen pitcher this second half, and other than DFA-ing Yonder Alonso, it was perhaps the best decision the White Sox made during the month. We also lost Anderson to an ankle sprain, and we hobbled into July to play arguably the worst month of baseball in recent memory. The White Sox went 7-17, including a seven-game skid immediately following the All Star Break. Other than Dylan Cease’s debut, July pretty much sucked. We had the failed A.J. Reed experiment, lots of Dylan Covey, and lots of trade speculation. We didn’t do much at the deadline, sending Nate Jones and a pile of The Money Will Be Spent™ cash to the Texas Rangers in exchange for two minor league pitchers.

The Indians received two-sport athlete Yasiel Puig (check out his soccer skills below) and his red mohawk from the Reds in a trade that sent resident lunatic Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati, and he claims he doesn’t miss Cleveland.

So far this season, the White Sox are 7-5 against the Indians, with a 3-3 record at Progressive Field. The South Siders are in an interesting position for the remainder of this season, as Cleveland currently sits 5.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins, and currently half a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the top wild card spot, with the Oakland A’s one half-game behind. The next closest hopeful, the Boston Red Sox, are five games back. If we can take at least two of these games and the others in the wild-card chase play well, there is a chance we can play spoilsport to Cleveland’s postseason hopes.

Cleveland is pretty easy to hate, even without Chief Wahoo. We all know how Joakim Noah feels about the former Land of LeBron:

To quote our very own Mike Gasick, “I’ll never forgive this stupid team for blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series. Worst day of my life.”

Probable starters are:

Monday, September 2:  Ross Detwiler vs. Aaron Civale (6:10 pm, NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) With Detwiler pitching in Saturday’s circus show, this matchup is likely to change. Civale has been impressive in his rookie season, and I expect him to be in the Cleveland rotation next season. He’s got a nasty sinker, averages five strikeouts per game and his WHIP is 0.90. We’re going to need some good luck and possibly an exorcism before we face this guy.

Tuesday, September 3: Dylan Cease vs. Mike Clevinger (6:10 pm, WGN/WGN-AM 720) If Cease can limit the first-inning damage, this could be a fun one. If Dylan gets rocked early, Clevinger could wipe the floor with us.

Wednesday, September 4: Iván Nova vs. Shane Bieber (6:10 pm NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) Shane Bieber has gone 0-2 in his last three starts, including a no-decision to the Kansas City Royals, sandwiched by losses to the New York Mets and Rays. He’s got a good fastball, so expect a lot of South Side strikeouts.

Thursday, September 5: Reynaldo López vs. Zach Plesac (12:10 pm NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) With ReyLo chased out of the game without making it through a single inning on Saturday, this will be his chance for redemption. Plesac, a rookie, is a good pitcher but also is hittable, so if ReyLo gets some run support, he’s got a good shot at taking this one.

With September callups always a possibility, we might be seeing some new faces in the dugout by the end of this series. But for now, we’ve got Manny Bañuelos and Carson Fulmer swelling our bench to 27.

If you can make it through all four games, I promise to give you a special treat in Thursday’s game recap. Until then, let’s try to make it harder for Cleveland to make the wild card playoff game.

Chief Wahoo became Chief WaChew in my house.
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