8/5-8/7 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

Fan Confidence Poll: August 5th, 2013
A-Rod and Cervelli among 13 players officially suspended for ties to Biogenesis
It hasn't been a fun season for Ventura & Co. (Brian Kersey/Getty)
It hasn’t been a fun season for Ventura & Co. (Brian Kersey/Getty)

There is only one AL team the Yankees have yet to face this season, and they’ll take care of that this series when they play three in Chicago against the White Sox. It has been a full calendar month since the Bombers last won a series, so this would definitely be a good time to get off the schneid. Actually, it’s imperative if they truly intend to make a run at a wildcard spot.

What Have They Done Lately?
The ChiSox are really, really bad. So bad that they have lost each of their last ten (!) games. I’m pretty sure that makes this a trap series, no? Either way, Chicago’s south siders are 40-69 with a -87 run differential overall, both the second worst marks in the league behind the Astros. Ten losses in a row? Yikes.

Finally, a team that is worse offensively than the Yankees. The White Sox average just 3.6 runs per game with a team 80 wRC+, both the worst marks in the AL. The Yankees are the second worst in each category at 3.8 runs per game and an 81 wRC+. They’re two of the three worst offensive teams in baseball (Marlins are the worst by far). These three games are going to take like, seven hours total. The ChiSox do not have any position players on the DL.

Dunn. (Jason Miller/Getty)
Dunn. (Jason Miller/Getty)

Manager and former Yankee Robin Ventura has one legitimately above-average hitter at his disposal: 1B/DH Adam Dunn (114 wRC+). Both OF Alejandro De Aza (104 wRC+) and OF Alex Rios (101 wRC+) are slightly above-average at the moment but not comfortably. 2B Gordon Beckham (98 wRC+) is both flirting with league average and having the best year of his disappointing career. 1B/DH Paul Konerko (77 wRC+) has lost his power due to back problems and age (37). Sucks.

OF Dayan Viciedo (87 wRC+) has some pop and 3B Conor Gillaspie (79 wRC+) is actually better than what the Yankees have been running out there at the hot corner. SS Alexei Ramirez (74 wRC+), C Tyler Flowers (63 wRC+), and IF Jeff Keppinger (41 wRC+) have all been awful. The bench guys — C Josh Phegley (46 wRC+), OF Jordan Danks (28 wRC+), and OF Casper Wells (20 wRC+) — are terrible as well. It’s worth noting that as a team, the ChiSox have the second lowest walk rate in the AL (6.6%). They’re hackers.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Monday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Jose Quintana
After a season and two-thirds, it’s pretty obvious the Yankees made a major blunder by not adding the 24-year-old Quintana to the 40-man roster after the 2011 season to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent following his breakout season with High-A Tampa (2.91 ERA and 2.96 FIP). He hooked on with the White Sox before last year and has a 3.69 ERA (4.01 FIP) in 268 big league innings since, including a 3.62 ERA (3.79 FIP) in 131.2 innings and 22 starts this season. The strikeout (7.18 K/9 and 19.0 K%), walk (2.67 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), homer (0.96 HR/9 and 9.4 BB%), and ground ball (44.0%) numbers are all rock solid but unspectacular. Quintana is a true five-pitch pitcher, using low-90s two and four-seamers to set up his mid-80s slider, mid-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball. The curve and change are his top two secondary pitches. Quintana has close to no platoon split in his relatively brief big league career and he’s faced the Yankees once before, getting hit around for six runs in six innings last June.

Sale. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Sale. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Chris Sale
Sale, 24, has established himself as arguably the best left-handed starter in the AL since moving into the rotation last season. It’s pretty much a toss-up between him and David Price at the moment. Sale’s got a 2.92 ERA (2.89 FIP) in 20 starts with stellar peripherals: 9.82 K/9 (27.0 K%), 1.96 BB/9 (5.4 BB%), 0.82 HR/9 (11.1% HR/FB), and 46.8% grounders. He’s essentially a three-pitch pitcher, using a low-to-mid-90s two-seamer, a low-to-mid-80s changeup, and an upper-70s slider from a funky low arm slot. Sale does have a big platoon split, but only because he destroys lefties (.168 wOBA) and is merely very good against righties (.296 wOBA). This would be a good game to rest guys like Brett Gardner, Lyle Overbay, and Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees have faced Sale a few times over the years but just once since he moved into the rotation; he held them to one run in 7.1 innings last August.

Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Hector Santiago
Five of the six scheduled starters this series are left-handed, including all three for the ChiSox. The 25-year-old Santiago grew up in Newark and has a 3.28 ERA (4.08 FIP) in a true swingman role this season — 107 innings spread across 15 starts and eleven relief appearances. He strikes out a ton of batters (9.34 K/9 and 24.4 K%), but is liberal with the free pass (4.12 BB/9 and 10.8 BB%) and will allow the ball to be hit in the air (34.2% grounders). His homer rate (1.01 HR/9 and 9.7% HR/FB) is up there but not a disaster. Believe it or not, Santiago is seven-pitch pitcher, and that’s only because he stopped throwing his two-seamer in 2012. His arsenal includes a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, a low-90s sinker, an upper-80s cutter, a low-80s changeup, an upper-70s slider, a mid-70s curveball, and a mid-70s screwball. Here’s a .GIF of the screwball, if you don’t believe me. The four-seamer, slider, and changeup are his top three pitches, but he will throw all of the others in a given outing. Santiago faced the Yankees twice last season, allowing four runs in four relief innings.

Bullpen Status
Stalwarts LHP Matt Thornton and RHP Jesse Crain were sold off prior to the trade deadline, so Ventura’s current bullpen is headlined by closer RHP Addison Reed (2.64 FIP) and setup man RHP Nate Jones (2.48 FIP). RHP Matt Lindstrom (3.09 FIP) continues to be rock solid and rounds out a very good end-game trip. The parade of relievers you’ve probably never heard of before include RHP Dylan Axelrod (5.45 FIP), LHP David Purcey (4.43 FIP in very limited time), RHP Ramon Troncoso (4.54 FIP), and LHP Donnie Veal (5.85 FIP). Those middle innings can be an adventure.

Even though Phil Hughes lasted just 2.2 innings yesterday, the Yankees are in okay bullpen shape. Not great but good enough. You can check out our Bullpen Workload page for details on which relievers pitched when over the last ten days. For the latest and greatest on the White Sox, I recommend South Side Sox. The title of that blog is pretty much the only reason I remember the Cubs are on Chicago’s north side and the ChiSox on the south.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 5th, 2013
A-Rod and Cervelli among 13 players officially suspended for ties to Biogenesis
  • Gonzo

    Enjoy their lack of offense. I just heard that the Yankees face the highest average wRC+ for the rest of season in the majors. Heard it on a Fangraphs podcast BTW.

    • LK

      Wow, that means the average wRC+ against must be really high after this series then. Well, if they’re going to go on a run they’ll have to earn it.

    • Hall and Nokes

      It helps that they don’t get to pitch to themselves.

  • Cashman’s Mistress

    Quintana has been worth more WAR the last two years than Hughes has been worth the last *six* combined.


    Some folks here don’t understand opportunity costs. Continuing to run Hughes out there came with real costs to developing other pitchers, Quintana included.

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      Hang in there. You’ll only have to see Hughes for another 9-10 starts as a Yankee before he’s gone. Quintana was a pretty big fuck up though as a young more than serviceable lefty in YS3 would have been nice at the back end of the rotation.

      • Rick in Philly

        How in Quintana considered a fuck up? He was 22 in A+ and the Yankees either had to put him on the 40 or release him. Missed shot? Sure. But fuck up? I wouldn’t go that far.

        • Rick in Philly

          Eh, shouldn’t say “release” since he was a free agent for the second time.

        • stuart a

          what do you mean. cashmans mistress was scouting quintana for 3 seasons. he told him to move to the right side of the rubber and go 3/4..

          another after the fact expert…in 3 years he will tell us who the yanks should have picked in stead of aaron judge and also who the yanks missed in the 3rd round…

          they are all experts….

          • Anderson Silva

            I blame the Yankees not for releasing him, but for being terrible at developing young players. Their minor league coaches and instructors are awful, it seems like the more they stay at their system, the worse they get.

          • jjyank

            I actually like your comments now.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Quintana was a major mistake. Putting him on the 40 man or release him weren’t the only options. He was a minor league FA.

          22 is not old, at all, for High-A

          • Rick in Philly

            So the third option was to try and convince him to come back again, right? Based on his BA writeup in 2011 (when he was the #32 prospect in the White Sox org), would you have thought he would do what he’s done in the majors? “He has a pedestrian 88-91 mph fastball with minimal movement, forcing him to rely too much on his solid curveball. He telegraphs his changeup, often throwing it with too much velocity and not enough movement.”

            I give Chicago credit for getting him to try something different, but I’m also not going to fault the Yankees if he Quintana made the choice to go to Chicago.

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona

              I’m not faulting the Yankees too much on this either. It sucks he blossomed somewhere else, but it happens. Thet gave him a strong offer to come back, but you have to take the 40-man spot when offered.

              • Rick in Philly

                Agreed. I did search the RAB archives and Mike pointed out the Yanks had an open 40-man spot they could have used on him, but given the Yankees luck, he probably would have shredded a shoulder by now.

                • Cashman’s Mistress

                  What you call “luck” others call management. The Yankees haven’t produced one above average starter in Cashman’s 15 years. That’s disgusting and no amount of wishful thinking changes that sad fact.

                  • The Bane of Baseball


                    I can’t stand these apologists acting like no one could have known…oh look at this BA write-up! Who cares. It’s the JOB of those in the Yankees front office to make decisions like this. Who has the talent, who may develop the talent, who should be protected and who shouldn’t. Quoting some writer’s opinion is absolutely worthless. The fact is the Yankees failed to make the right decision and it’s a disturbing trend among a long, long list of bad decisions, drafts, and player development busts.

                    • jjyank

                      “Boom”? Really?

                      Yes, the Yankees haven’t developed much outside of Wag in recent years. Hughes is still a starting pitcher, back end though he may be.

                      What I love about this debate, is that nobody mentions how the Yankees have operated over the last decade plus. How many draft picks were forfeited? Would any of those draft picks been as good as Sabathia, 2009 Burnett, Mussina? Doubtful. So the team hasn’t produced any home grown aces. How many teams could do that while either picking at the end of each round and consistently giving up draft picks entirely?

                      Also, let’s just go ahead and ignore that the Yankees have put together a talented and cost-effective bullpen for several years now. Only starters matter, right?

                      Look, I’m not saying the Yankees couldn’t have done better. Of course they could have. The Joba thing still pisses me off. But it is far from as black and white as you claim.

                    • Cashman’s Mistress

                      “Yes, the Yankees haven’t developed much outside of Wag in recent years.”

                      Much? Try nothing. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

                      “Hughes is still a starting pitcher, back end though he may be.”

                      Wow, you still don’t get it. Hughes’ value this year? 0.0 bWAR. He’s the epitome of a failed starter. For all of his innings, he’s replacement level. And the opportunity cost means he’s taking innings away from the Warrens, Nunos, Phelps, Novas, etc. He should have been a bullpen two years ago. Only the Teacher’s Pet thing has saved him.

                      “What I love about this debate, is that nobody mentions how the Yankees have operated over the last decade plus. ”

                      You mean the part where we are all pointing out how the Yankees have operated and not developed anything of value? How convenient to ignore all the guys they drafted or came after they drafted.

                      “So the team hasn’t produced any home grown aces. How many teams could do that while either picking at the end of each round and consistently giving up draft picks entirely?”

                      Who said anything about aces? They haven’t even produced league average arm. Kennedy is that (Hughes and Joba are’t). They haven’t even produced one above average arm (Quintana is that). And no one was complaining when the Big Three were all top rated talents. The two the Yankees they kept turned into two big turds.

                      Of course you also conveniently ignore the Yankees huge advantage in signing international free agents in those 15 years. Since El Duque, they couldn’t even sign someone with only money. This is institutional myopia at it’s finest.

                      “Only starters matter, right?”

                      Nice strawman and way to move the goal posts. The point was tied to Quintana and the failure to produce *any* Yankees starters in the time he’s racked up 6 bWAR. You’ve proved the point.

                      “But it is far from as black and white as you claim.”

                      And without you offering any evidence to the contrary, you show it’s exactly as bad as we are saying.

                    • jjyank

                      I’d rather not get ants. Because this is how you get ants.

              • Cashman’s Mistress

                Not faulting them too much? They haven’t developed one starting pitching in the Cashman Era – the last 15 years. Wang may have been great, but he flamed out quickly and was never expected to be much. The next best right now is Nova and he’s been a mixed bag.

                Then we look around at the starters that have escaped the Yankee Hole of Suck. Kennedy, for as bad as he’s been, has been the best of the Big Three. And Quintana is above average if not spectacular, but again better than anything the Yankees have produced in the last 15 years.

                The Yankees deserve all of the fault here. They lost Quintana far too soon and produced nothing even close to as valuable in the time since.

  • trr

    The WS are flat out lousy, the worst team in the AL (besides the Astros, of course). Any decent team should be able to sweep them. The Yankees, of course, will struggle, but in the end should take 2/3 from
    such a poor team.

    • mt

      I am just curious and would like to have the same faith as you do but with this offense and CC being so horrible, Andy up and down and Kuroda offset by Sale, why should we take 2/3 from this team?

      We have not lost 10 in a row like ChiSox have but our offense since the 30-18 high point is very similar to White Sox’ offense and they do have more stable pitchers pitching.

      Is your feeling more like: if we can’t beat White Sox two out of three games who can we beat?

      • I’m One

        A-Rod will be back. All the world’s problems are solved.

      • trr

        “Is your feeling more like: if we can’t beat White Sox two out of three games who can we beat?”

        That’s pretty much it – the WS are THAT bad. I’m hoping Kuroda can hang with Sale, team squeezes out a one-run win there, we split the other two.

  • stuart a

    yanks play the al east a lot down the stretch so that would affect the wRC + a lot.

    boston and baltimore +

    so what. if the yanks could score 5 runs on occassion they would be fine..

    2nd worse offense in the AL, embarrassing

  • Winter

    Damn. First Kuroda-Kershaw, now Kuroda-Sale. Those are some marquee matchups right there. Given how both these offenses are performing, that’s another great duel in the making. Of course, now that I’ve said that it probably won’t happen…

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

      Kuroda’s gotten a lot of marquee matchups.

      Interestingly, CC has also faced 7 other pitchers who use their initials. (JA Happ, TJ McFarland, RA Dickey, AJ Griffin (the bastard) and a couple others I cannot seem to remember)

  • fat jeter

    so, what’s the over/under of games played before the inevitable alex rodriguez injury?

    • Rolling Doughnut

      Better: the over/under of games played before we’re under .500

    • LK

      Better question: who ends up playing more games in 2013, A-Rod or Jeter?

  • Rolling Doughnut

    I’m thinking sweep. Andy looked good last outing, and even Feces should be able to handle the Chisox.

    • SDB

      that’s what we said about the Padres too…