Records: White Sox 26-16 / Yankees 25-19
First Pitch: Friday 6:05, Sat/Sun 12:05
Pizza Wars: Pinstripe Alley
Game 1: Carlos Rodon (5-1 1.47 ERA) vs. Jordan Montgomery (2-1 4.75 ERA)
Game 2: Dylan Cease (2-0 2.41 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (5-2 2.03 ERA)
Game 3: Dallas Keuchel (3-1 4.44 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (1-3 5.73 ERA)
3 weeks ago I don’t think anyone would’ve considered this series to be a potential 1st round playoff preview, as the Yankees were mired in their worst start to a season in over 20 years. Coming out of the gate with ice cold hitting and having everyone not named Gerrit Cole getting pummeled on the mound will do that to you. Much like the White Sox, however, as soon as the mercury began to climb the Yankees bats came alive. Just since the calendar flipped to May, the Bombers have gone from averaging 3.45 runs per game to 4.06. In April, they scored 2 or fewer runs in 8 of their 26 games and went 2-6 in them as compared to May where they’re 4-2 in games where they score 2 or less.
Leading the charge offensively are the usual suspects of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Gio Urshela. Combined, the 4 of them are worth approximately 4.4 WAR so far with Judge taking up a whopping 1.6 of that number. Missing from those stats is the recently returned Luke Voit, who missed the first 6 weeks of the season after having a procedure done on his knee to repair a partially torn meniscus. Given that he missed most of spring training and the season thus far, it’s pretty forgivable that he’s only slashing .207/.303/.610 with one lonely dinger to his name. Really, this lineup doesn’t have any holes in it right now with the exception of missing Stanton right now (who’s out with a strained hamstring, but is expected back after this series). The biggest disappointment would have to be Gary Sanchez, who has yet to break the Mendoza line, but even he’s run headfirst into 5 home runs so far.
On the starting pitching side of the ball, things are much less rosy for the Yanks. Outside of Gerrit Cole (and I suppose Corey Kluber and his no-no on Wednesday night) the starting rotation has been eminently hittable. After Cole and Kluber, the ERA of the 3rd through 5th starters sits at 4.51 with a 1.20 WHIP. The biggest offender is the game 3 starter, Jameson Tallion who’s return from double Tommy John surgery has not yet paid the dividends that Brain Cashman was hoping for when he sent 4 prospects to the Pirates in exchange for his services this past off-season. Tallion hasn’t had issues with striking people out, as his K/9 sits at a very pretty 10.99. His problem has been (much like Dylan Cease at the start of the year) pitch efficiency and walks. He’s started one less game than Gerrit Cole, but he’s pitched 20 less innings than him, with a walk rate just under 2.4. He’s only gotten past the 6th inning once (two weeks ago against the Nats), and he needed 100 pitches to do it. Having him going game 3 against the Sox in what is hopefully the rubber match of the series tips the scales towards the Sox in that instance.
As for the White Sox, after the series win against the Twins this past week (coaching shenanigans and all) without the services of Jose Abreu they look to increase their lead in the AL central. The Indians still sit 2.5 games behind the Sox with a series against the Twins on tap this weekend.
After the offensive outburst night one vs Minnesota, the bats predictably went quiet over the next two games. After pounding out 4 runs against the rookie Bailey Ober in game 2, they were only able to manage 2 runs over the next 14 innings while stranding 19 runners on base. A majority of this is to be expected, what with 3 of the top 4 hitters on the team on the shelf with injuries and all, but hopefully this turns around with the (supposed) return of Jose Abreu for this series. At publishing time there still has been no word as to Jose’s status but the previous update from the team expected him to be available for this weekend’s series.
As for the pitching, they’ll have their work cut out for them this weekend playing in a park built for the long ball. The porches in left and right field are some of the shortest in the league and the Yanks (much like the Sox) are build to pummel left handed pitching so Rodon and Keuchel are going to need to keep the ball down to survive. Saturday’s matchup of Dylan Cease and Gerrit Cole should be a K-Fest, as the two of them combined average 9+ strikeouts per 9 innings with a sub 2.40 ERA. It should be fun, as well as the stiffest test of Cease’s newfound control thus far.
All told, this series is going to be a good measuring stick for the White Sox going forward. The Yankees are probably the best offense they’ve seen this far, and that’s without Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup. Keep the walks to a minimum, keep the ball down, and hopefully keep the bullpen use to a minimum. The starters for the Yankees in games 1 and 3 can be gotten to, especially with Jordan Montgomery being a lefty and Jameson Tallion unable to find the plate. Take 2 of 3 here and then come home to face the Cardinals on Monday.
Let’s Go Sox.