RECORDS: White Sox 3-8, Yankees 5-7
GAMETIMES: Friday, 6:05, Saturday 12:05, Sunday, 12:05
TV: WGN Friday, NBCSN Chicago Saturday and Sunday
EVEN THE BLOGGERS ARE INJURED: Pinstripe Alley
Probable White Sox Lineup
1. Leury Garcia (S) RF
2. Tim Anderson (R) SS
3. Jose Abreu (R) 1B/DH
4. Welington Castillo (R) C
5. Yoan Moncada (S) 3B
6. Eloy Jimenez (R) LF
7. Yonder Alonso (L) DH/1B
8. Jose Rondon (R) 2B
9. Adam Engel (R) CF
Probable Yankees Lineup
1. Brett Gardner (L) CF
2. Aaron Judge (R) RF
3. Luke Voit (R) 1B
4. Gary Sanchez (R) DH
5. Gleyber Torres (R) SS
6. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
7. Clint Frazier (R) LF
8. Gio Urshela (L) 3B
9. Austin Romine (R) C
If ever there was such an indictment on what a nightmare of an offseason the White Sox had, even outside of the most obvious of fuck ups that I’d rather just not think about anymore but am constantly forced to, it’s the fact that even with half of their ideal starting lineup on the mend, the Yankees lineup looks better overall than their own. Just since the season started, the Yankees have placed Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and Troy Tulowitzki on the IL, and that was in addition to Didi Gregorious and Aaron Hicks who both started the year there. Even if you don’t count the remnants of Tulo as an ideal starter for the Yankees, that’s still four guys who would be everyday players for them when healthy who are, instead, not healthy.
And yet I look up and down that Yankees lineup and find plenty of room for jealousy, primarily for the fact that they don’t have to watch Adam Engel take at-bats and instead have a real hitter playing in CF, even if Brett Gardner hasn’t been a major threat since I was in college. I’ll also take what Gary Sanchez brings to the table at DH over the Daniel Palka Experience everyday of the week. And of course a superstar in Aaron Judge would be fine as well, strikeouts and all.
On top of the Yankees injuries in the lineup, their arms have been bitten by the injury bug as well. Luis Severino looked like he was on the ascent to become one of the best in the game back in 2017, but 2018 wasn’t quite as kind (he was still good, but didn’t have ace level stuff again) and after he started 2019 on the IL, he suffered a setback earlier this week that shut him down for another six weeks. Along with him, bullpen mercenary Dellin Betances found his way to the IL before the season officially started and he isn’t expected back until the end of the month at the earliest. Then there is CC Sabathia, who has been forced to sit out thus far but will make his season debut on Saturday.
So if you’re keeping count, that’s eight players who figured to play either a major role or a priority backup role for this team that have been hurt, and yet the Yankees find themselves in a decent position, still just two games below .500 and in second place in the AL East, thanks in large part to the righteous embarrassment that the Red Sox have started the season with. If they can take care of business against the Sox this weekend, they could be in a really good spot early on despite all the misfortune.
For the Sox, the key to this weekend is going to be two-fold. Primarily, they need Lucas Giolito to be the version of himself that pitched in their third game against the Royals (and early on against the Mariners) and not the 2018 version that started to creep out just a bit in his last start. While I still wouldn’t call what he did against Seattle “bad,” the lack of fastball command has to be considered concerning at the very least. His curveball has been nasty, so if he can just locate the damn fastball and keep it around 93 MPH, that one-two combo is probably enough for him to start on his path toward being a true major league starter.
Secondarily, they’re going to need the talent to overcome this asinine experiment that is Rick Renteria‘s left-handed pitcher lineup. I understand the desire to play the matchups, and that inclination is the correct one, but any time that goal sees you bat Yoan Monada fifth in your lineup and Welington Castillo CLEANUP (not a typo, that has really been happening in 2019), you need to re-evaluate how you’re going about this. Moncada did struggle a bit against lefties last year, but hitting right handed is his natural spot, and the lack of pop he had from that side of the plate in 2018 was basically an anomaly that even he couldn’t figure out.
Also, since this season doesn’t matter for anyone but him and like three other guys, he needs to get the maximum number of AB’s possible. Especially given the tear he’s on to start the year, he needs to be second or third in the order every day. And move Eloy up too, because he’s one of the guys for whom this season matters, and the maximum AB’s sentiment applies to him as well. If you slid Castillo down to 6 and went Monada-Abreu-Eloy in your 3-4-5 holes, is this lineup really missing a beat? Probably not.
Instead, we will watch this lineup get dominated by J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia because there are only two real hitters in the top four batting spots, and I can already picture one of these games ending with the Sox down by one, Anderson on second base and Moncada in the on deck circle. Because that’s the White Sox’ luck in 2019.