Archive for Chicago White Sox
According to George King, the Mariners had a scout on hand to watch David Phelps‘ second spring start last night. He got hit around pretty hard but held the Orioles to only one run in 2.2 innings, striking out two and walking one. Phelps is currently competing for the fifth starter spot, though Joe Girardi confirmed he will make the team in some capacity.
The Mariners have been hit hard by injuries this spring. Co-ace Hisashi Iwakuma is sidelined with a finger sprain and top prospect Taijuan Walker is dealing with a shoulder problem. Manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed both guys will open the season on the DL, leaving the team with Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Brandon Maurer, and Scott Baker behind Felix Hernandez. Their need for another arm is obvious.
Seattle’s top trade chip is infielder Nick Franklin, who was pushed into trade chip status by the Robinson Cano signing. The 23-year-old switch-hitter hit .225/.303/.382 (90 wRC+) with 12 homers, six steals, and a 27.4% strikeout rate in his 412 plate appearance MLB debut last season. His defense is shaky — he’s already moved off short and is error prone at second — and more than a few people think he’ll have to drop switch-hitting and stick to batting lefty down the road. Baseball America (subs. req’d) said he “profiles as a solid regular who could play in a few All-Star Games” before last season.
The Yankees desperately need a young infielder and Franklin certainly fits the bill even though I’m not his biggest fan. I’d trade
four five years of Phelps for six years of Franklin in a heartbeat, but I suspect the Mariners are going to want another piece or two. Both the Mets and Rays have been talking to Seattle about Franklin — Tampa was reportedly on the verge of the deal, but then Jeremy Hellickson got hurt and they were reluctant to sacrifice pitching depth — so there is plenty of competition.
Of the various fifth starter candidates, the 27-year-old Phelps feels like the safest bet to be a productive big leaguer in 2014. In order to deal him, I think the Yankees would have to feel pretty good about Michael Pineda heading into the season and/or be open to signing a low-cost pitcher (Jeff Niemann? Jeff Karstens?) to replace the depth. Given their pitching situation, I’m guessing the Mariners would like to get a deal done sooner rather than later. That could work to New York’s advantage in trade talks.
In other news, King says both the White Sox and Brewers also had scouts on hand for last night’s game. Both clubs are looking for catching depth, something the Yankees can spare. Chicago has some infield depth to offer and we’ve already heard the Yankees will monitor Rickie Weeks this spring. Given the infield situation, the Yankees could swap Phelps+ for Franklin and a catcher for Weeks or one of the ChiSox infielders (or one of the Diamondbacks infielders). It doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other.
The Yankees are reportedly done signing Major League free agents, but that doesn’t mean trades for established big leaguers are off the table. According to George King, the team will monitor second baseman Rickie Weeks, who could lose his starting job with the Brewers to youngster Scooter Gennett these next few weeks.
Weeks, 31, was limited to 104 games last season by a severe hamstring injury that required season-ending surgery in August. The 23-year-old Gennett took his spot in the lineup and hit .324/.356/.479 (131 wRC+) with six homers in 230 plate appearances down the stretch. Weeks has hit .222/.320/.384 (94 wRC+) with 31 homers and 23 steals these last two years, a far cry from his 2009-11 peak.
The Brewers would presumably love to shed Weeks and the $11M they owe him this season. This is not another Vernon Wells situation though; the elder Weeks brother has not been a total disaster the last two years. Below-average, yes, but not a Wellsian disaster. Trading a prospect and picking up that $11M tab would be tough to swallow with Stephen Drew still unsigned, but he is a name to keep in the back of your mind.
In other news, King says the White Sox are seeking catching help and had a scout on hand for yesterday’s game against Florida State. Frankie Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy, and Gary Sanchez all played in the game. “There has been no dialogue … I wouldn’t comment on interest,” said Brian Cashman when asked about a potential deal with Chicago.
The Yankees are prioritizing infield and bullpen help this spring, to no one’s surprise. The ChiSox could offer perennial disappointment Gordon Beckham or free agent flop Jeff Keppinger, who New York showed some interest in at the trade deadline last year, according to King. The 33-year-old hit .253/.283/.317 (60 wRC+) last summer and is owed $9.5M through 2015. Beckham, 27, managed a .267/.322/.372 (88 wRC+) line last year, his best season since 2009. He’s owed $4.175M this year and is under team control in 2015 as well.
Beckham was much more interesting a year or two ago, when he on the right side of 25 and still had some of that top prospect shine. We now have nearly 2,500 big league plate appearances saying this guy is a below-average Major League hitter and there have been no signs of improvement in recent years. As badly as they need infield help, I think the Yankees have to be careful not to overrate their catching depth. It can disappear in a hurry.
Today is the halfway point of Masahiro Tanaka‘s 30-day negotiating window. He has 15 days left to work out a contract before the 5pm ET deadline on January 24th, and the entire deal must be complete by that time. Tanaka needs to pass a physical and sign on the dotted line by then. There won’t be any of this “agree to a deal and three weeks later it’s official” nonsense. Only 15 days until he is on some team’s roster. Love the hard deadline.
Anyway, we know the Yankees have already contacted with Tanaka’s agent Casey Close, but there haven’t been any real updates since. That doesn’t mean talks have stalled or anything like that, just that no updates have leaked. The whole process has been very tight-lipped, it seems. I’m guessing that’s by design. Here are some Tanaka-related notes from around the league in what I suspect is the first of many update posts:
- Tanaka flew to the Los Angeles yesterday to begin face-to-face meetings with teams. He is slated to meet with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, and Angels this week and he will also be seen by a doctor to get the physical process going. [David Waldstein, Bill Plunkett & Jon Heyman]
- D’Backs GM Kevin Towers said Close “pretty much asked those clubs that are involved that just less is better and not to really say anything or divulge the process or what’s happening.” That explains the lack of updates. [Steve Gilbert]
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti confirmed he has touched base with Tanaka’s camp but the two sides are in the “feeling out” stage. Negotiations with various clubs are “still in a very preliminary phase” and things might not heat up until next week. [Dylan Hernandez & Andy Martino]
- If you missed it earlier this week, here is our massive Scouting The Market post on Tanaka. Pretty much everything you need to know about the guy is in there.
Via Jesse Sanchez: The White Sox have agreed to sign Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to a six-year contract worth $68M. The deal is still pending a physical and is (by far) the largest contract ever give to an international free agent, topping the $42M deal the Dodgers gave Yasiel Puig last summer. The White Sox have a pretty good history with Cuban-born players, most notably Jose Contreras, Alexei Ramirez, and Dayan Viciedo.
The Yankees were reportedly among the teams scouting the 26-year-old Abreu, who held some showcase events at their complex in the Dominican Republic last month. I never thought the Bombers were serious about signing him, especially at a price like that. With their payroll coming down and so many other holes on the roster to fill, signing another first base/DH type to a huge contract doesn’t make much sense. If they make a big international splash this winter, I suspect it’ll be for Masahiro Tanaka.
Via Daryl Van Schouwen: The White Sox are planning to “make a hard push” for Curtis Granderson when he officially becomes a free agent in a few weeks. The outfielder is from the area and attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, which recently broke ground on a new baseball stadium funded by and bearing Granderson’s name.
Granderson, 32, hit .229/.317/.407 (97 wRC+) with seven homers in 245 plate appearances this year while missing more than 100 games thanks to a broken right forearm and broken left hand suffered on hit-by-pitches. Just last week, his agent confirmed Curtis’ “first choice” is returning to New York next year. I don’t expect Granderson to have a hard time finding contract offers this winter, but with every report that another club is interested, the likelihood of him declining a qualifying offer increases.
The White Sox are a big reason why the Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column and not much closer to the race. They swept three games from New York in Chicago last month, including a gut-wrenching walk-off win in the finale after Robinson Cano gave the Bombers the lead in extra-innings. That can’t happen again.
What Have They Done Lately?
The White Sox just got swept by the Red Sox in Boston, which is usually what happens when one of the worst teams in baseball goes on the road against the one of the best teams in baseball. Former Yankee player and current ChiSox manager Robin Ventura’s team actually won ten of 12 games before going to Fenway Park. At 56-79 with a -71 run differential, they sit in last place in the AL Central and have the third worst record in the entire game.
The south-siders average just 3.8 runs per game with a team 84 wRC+, making them the worst offensive team in the AL and second worst in baseball overall. Only a Marlins (70 wRC+!) are worse. The White Sox do not have any position players on the DL at the moment, though they did trade away OF Alex Rios (98 wRC+) since the last time these two teams met.
Ventura has just one legitimately above-average hitter on this roster: 1B/DH Adam Dunn (112 wRC+). The odds of him hitting a homer this series is like, infinity. OF Avisail Garcia (107 wRC+) has been very good since coming over at the trade deadline, but he’s only had 87 plate appearances with the team. OF Alejandro De Aza (100 wRC+), 2B Gordon Beckham (94 wRC+), and OF Dayan Viciedo (92 wRC+) are useful while SS Alexei Ramirez (83 wRC+) and 1B Paul Konerko (80 wRC+) aren’t. Konerko is pretty much done at age 37.
The rest of the regular lineup includes 3B Conor Gillaspie (81 wRC+) and C Josh Phegley (41 wRC+). IF Jeff Keppinger (52 wRC+) plays regularly because he signed a three-year contract this offseason. OF Jordan Danks (95 wRC+ in limited time), C Tyler Flowers (58 wRC+), IF Leury Garcia (23 wRC+ in very limited time), and C Brayan Anderson (has not played) round out the bench. The ChiSox are carrying 14 position players after rosters expanded yesterday.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Jose Quintana
Quintana, 24, is probably the best pitcher to come out of the Yankees farm system since Chien-Ming Wang. The southpaw has a 3.71 ERA (3.91 FIP) in 301 career innings and a 3.66 ERA (3.65 FIP) in 164.2 innings across 27 starts this season. His peripherals are solid across the board: 7.54 K/9 (20.0 K%), 2.60 BB/9 (7.0 BB%), 0.93 HR/9 (9.3% HR/FB), and 43.2% grounders. Quintana isn’t a star but he’s a rock solid mid-rotation arm already. Too bad he got away. A low-90s four-seamer is Quintana’s primary fastball, but he will mix in the occasional low-90s two-seamer and upper-80s sinker. A handful each start. An upper-70s curveball and mid-80 changeup are his two offspeed pitches with the curve ahead of the change. Quintana actually has a reverse split this year — lefties have a .332 wOBA against him, righties .289. The Yankees have faced their former farmhand just two before, including last month, when he held them to one run in 6.2 innings.
Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Chris Sale
Outside of Clayton Kershaw, I don’t think there’s a better left-handed pitcher in baseball than the 24-year-old Sale. He comes into this start with a 2.99 ERA (3.11 FIP) and spectacular peripherals, including a 9.63 K/9 (26.5 K%) and 1.95 BB/9 (5.4 BB%). Sale also gets a nice amount of grounders (46.3%) and generally limits homers (0.95 HR/9 and 12.3% HR/FB) considering his home park yields a ton of dingers. His nasty three-pitch mix includes a mid-to-upper-90s two-seamer, a wipeout upper-70s slider, and a fading low-80s changeup. All three are viable weapons and not any kind show-me pitch. Sale annihilates lefty batters (.178 wOBA against) and is merely pretty good against righties (.304 wOBA). The Yankees have faced the southpaw just twice since he moved into the rotation last year and he dominated them both times — one run in 7.2 innings (with 13 strikeouts) last year, one run in 7.1 innings last month. He’d be in the Cy Young mix he the White Sox weren’t terrible and his record was better than 10-12.
Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Hector Santiago
These are the same three pitchers in the exact same order the Yankees faced when they went to Chicago last month, so the Newark-raised Santiago gets the ball in the finale. The 25-year-old has been a true swingman for the ChiSox this year, pitching to a 3.43 ERA (4.33 FIP) in 133.2 innings across 20 starts and eleven relief appearances. He’s got a good strikeout rate (8.69 K/9 and 22.1 K%) and an okay homer rate (1.01 HR/9 and 9.3% HR/9), but he walks too many (4.38 BB/9 and 11.2 BB%) and rarely gets ground balls (36.0%). Santiago will use seven different pitches, but his top three offerings are a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, a low-90s sinker, and a low-80s changeup. He’ll also thrown an upper-80s cutter, an upper-70s slider, a mid-70s curveball, and a mid-70s screwball on occasion. Here’s a .GIF of the screwball. Santiago doesn’t have a platoon split and he gave up four runs to the Yankees in 5.2 innings last month.
Update: The ChiSox just announced they have pushed Santiago back to Thursday, so he will not pitch against the Yankees. Wednesday’s starter is currently listed as TBA.
Now that rosters have expanded, pretty much every team has fresh arms in the bullpen. ChiSox closer RHP Addison Reed (2.87 FIP) hasn’t pitched in about a week while setup man RHP Nate Jones (2.60 FIP) pitched yesterday just to get some work. RHP Matt Lindstrom (3.16 FIP) is fresh as well. Long man LHP Charlie Lessman (5.60 FIP in very limited time) soaked up 4.1 innings yesterday and won’t be available for a few days. LHP David Purcey (5.24 FIP in limited time), LHP Donnie Veal (4.89 FIP in limited time), RHP Dylan Axelrod (5.54 FIP), and RHP Jake Petricka (3.68 FIP in very limited time) round out the rest of the Ventura’s bullpen. They added just one extra arm yesterday, but I assume more are on the way.
The Yankees are in fine shape bullpen-wise, especially since David Robertson and Mariano Rivera have both pitched just once in the last seven days. Preston Claiborne will return today to add some more setup depth after Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral, and Brett Marshall joined the team yesterday. Our Bullpen Workload page has all the recent reliever usage details and South Side Sox has everything you could possibly want to know about the White Sox.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Yankees have yet to visit Minnesota, Cleveland, and Chicago this season, but they’ll get the latter two out of the way this week. The Bombers are in the Windy City for a three-game series after splitting four with the White Sox in the Bronx back in late-June.
What Have They Done Lately?
The White Sox lead the Tigers by two games in the AL Central with a 65-55 record (+64 run differential). They nearly got no-hit by Jeremy Guthrie yesterday, completing a three-game sweep at the hands of the Royals. They’d won three straight prior to that. The ChiSox have won just five of their last dozen games, so they’re scuffling a bit.
With an average of 4.7 runs per game, Chicago has a sneaky good offense that can really hit the ball out of the park. Paul Konerko (141 wRC+) recently came off the seven-day concussion DL and joins MLB homer king Adam Dunn (121 wRC+) to give the club 55 dingers in the middle of the order. Thirty-five of those bombs belong to Dunn, who should see a whole lot of Clay Rapada and Boone Logan these next three days — 101 wRC+ vs. LHP and 134 vs. RHP.
Outside of those two, rookie manager and former Yankee Robin Ventura has been getting excellent production from A.J. Pierzynski (133 wRC+) and Alex Rios (125 wRC+). Both Kevin Youkilis (104 wRC+) and Alejandro De Aza (101 wRC+) have been solid as well, though both are battling nagging injuries — Youk a sore knee, De Aza a sore oblique. Both are day-to-day at the moment. Taking De Aza’s spot in center field (and atop the lineup) for the time being is former Yankee Dewayne Wise (121 wRC+ in limited time). As you may recall, his bunt turned the season around.
The rest of the roster is filled out by flawed but occasionally useful hitters. Dayan Viciedo (93 wRC+) has power, Alexei Ramirez (67 wRC+) makes a lot of contact, and Gordon Beckham (64 wRC+) … really doesn’t do much of anything. Tyler Flowers (79 wRC+) is the backup catcher and Ray Olmedo (7 wRC+ in very limited time) is the backup infielder. Chicago employs a 13-man pitching staff and with the Youkilis and De Aza injuries, they’re a little short on healthy bodies at the moment.
Monday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. RHP Gavin Floyd
It’s been a bit of a tough year for the 29-year-old Floyd, who spent some time on the DL with flexor tendinitis in his elbow and has seen his ERA (4.43) rise for the fourth consecutive season. His walk (3.22 BB/9 and 8.2 BB%) and homer (1.32 HR/9) rates are the highest they’ve been since becoming a full-time starter for the ChiSox, though his strikeout numbers (7.52 K/9 and 19.2 K%) are among his career bests. Floyd is using his mid-80s cutter more than three out of every ten pitches this year, by far the highest rate of his career. His four- and scantily-used two-seamer both sit in the low-90s and his trademark curveball is an upper-70s hammer. It is very underappreciated in the pantheon of baseball’s great pitches. He’ll also use a low-80s changeup. The Yankees tagged Floyd for four runs with more walks (five) than strikeouts (three) in 5.1 innings earlier this year.
Tuesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Francisco Liriano
One of three deadline pickups, Liriano has actually been pretty good for the ChiSox. He threw a total dud against the Athletics last week (six runs in 3.1 IP), but otherwise has thrown at least five innings and allowed no more than two runs in his other three outings since the trade. The 28-year-old southpaw’s numbers are all over the place, with strong strikeout (9.85 K/9 and 24.9 K%) and ground ball (44.2%) rates but an ugly walk (4.77 BB/9 and 12.1 BB%) percentage. Pretty much a microcosm of his career. Liriano is a two-seamer (low-90s) and slider (mid-80s) machine, throwing the two pitches just about 75% of the time. A mid-80s changeup is his other offering.
Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Chris Sale
When these two clubs met for four games earlier this year, the 23-year-old Sale was the one pitcher the Yankees did not see. The left-hander is a legitimate Cy Young candidate in his first full year as a starter, pitching to a 2.72 ERA (3.18 FIP) with dynamite peripherals — 8.48 K/9 (23.8 K%), 2.17 BB/9 (6.1 BB%), and 44.4% grounders. Sale employs both two- and four-seamers that run from the low-to-mid-90s, and he backs them up with a wipeout upper-70s slider that is just death on lefties (.229 wOBA against). His low-80s changeup is an effective second offspeed pitch. Sale has slowed down a bit of late, allowing at least four runs in three of his last five outings, leading to questions about his workload (career-high 145.1 IP) and fatigue.
Ventura has eight pitchers in the bullpen and right now four of them are rookies, including closer Addison Reed (3.17 FIP). He’s being setup by a pair of veterans — right-hander Brett Myers (4.05 FIP) and left-hander Matt Thornton (3.24 FIP) — with another veteran guy in the middle innings (Jesse Crain, 3.19 FIP) and another in long relief (Phil Humber, 5.54 FIP). Obviously things have gone downhill since the perfect game. Rookie left-handers Donnie Veal (1.00 FIP in very limited time) and Hector Santiago (5.25 FIP) join righty Nate Jones (3.69 FIP) in the middle innings.
Former Yankees farmhand Jose Quintana gave the ChiSox seven innings in yesterday’s loss, so their bullpen is pretty fresh. Veal and Jones have pitched in each of the last two games, so they might be unavailable tonight. Crain pitched yesterday for the third time in four games, so he might be off limits as well. Other than that, their late-inning guys are good to go. The Yankees are in good bullpen shape as well thanks to Hiroki Kuroda‘s eight innings last night, but check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage. South Side Sox is the best White Sox blog around, so check that out for the latest and greatest on the opponent for the next three days.
Via Josh Norris, the White Sox are “zeroing in” on right-hander Dellin Betances after scouting his last three Double-A starts. No word on if the two sides are actually talking trade or anything like that, however. Betances does fit their style though, they grab big power arms and hope pitching coach Don Cooper can help them out. That part makes sense.
I’m not quite sure what the ChiSox realistically have to offer that can help the Yankees. Chicago’s contending so it’s not like they’re going to send over Matt Thornton or something, that would be ideal. Gordon Beckham would be a sweet change of scenery candidate, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
The Yankees have played every AL team except for one this season, but that will change today. The White Sox and new manager/former Yankee Robin Ventura are in town for a four-game set, New York’s eighth consecutive series against a team with a winning record.
What Have They Done Lately?
Chicago just won two straight against the Twins and have won four of their past five games. Prior to that they had lost seven of nine. At 40-35 with a +40 run differential, the ChiSox sit atop the AL Central thanks in part to New York’s sweep of the Indians this week.
The White Sox are a sneaky good offensive team, averaging 4.64 runs per game. That’s a top-ten mark in baseball and not all that far behind the Yankees (4.80 R/G). Paul Konerko (159 wRC+) has been their MVP yet again, but he had a minor wrist procedure earlier this month and has hit just .238/.314/.349 since. I wouldn’t take any solace in that, the man can still mash.
Adam Dunn (136 wRC+) is second in the AL with 24 homers while ranking first in walk (18.7%) and strikeout (37.8%) rate. He’s a three true outcomes machine. Dunn and Konerko have been one of the game’s best 3-4 combinations this season. Alejandro De Aza (109 wRC+) has shaken off the Quad-A tag to emerge as a legitimate leadoff man this year, and new addition Kevin Youkilis (91 wRC+) will put together some annoyingly good at-bats from the two-hole.
The rest of Ventura’s regular lineup features the enigmatic Alex Rios (125 wRC+), contract year A.J. Pierzynski (119 wRC+), the powerful Dayan Viciedo (93 wRC+), the slumping Alexei Ramirez (52 wRC+), and the disappointing Gordon Beckham (81 wRC+). The ChiSox don’t have much a bench, with backup catcher Tyler Flowers (67 wRC+), infielders Orlando Hudson (52 wRC+) and Eduardo Escobar (64 wRC+), and outfielder Jordan Danks (137 wRC+ in very limited time) doing the honors. Yes, Jordan is John’s brother.
Thursday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod
The White Sox probably do a better job of turning random arms into serviceable big leaguers than any other team, and Axelrod is another guy they plucked off the scrap heap and inserted into their rotation. He’s taking the place of the injured Phil Humber. Axelrod has made two starts and two relief appearances this year, pitching to a 4.85 ERA with a 6.05 FIP. His strikeout (6.23 K/9 and 14.8 K%), walk (2.08 BB/9 and 4.9 BB%), and ground ball (42.2%) rates aren’t awful, but Axelrod has allowed three homers in his 13 innings so far. The 26-year-old former minor league free agent is a low-80s slider specialist, throwing the pitch more often than either of his upper-80s fastballs (two and four-seamer). He’ll also mix in a low-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball.
Friday: RHP Adam Warren vs. LHP Jose Quintana
At this time last year, Quintana was pitching for High-A Tampa and giving the Yankees something to think about. They declined to add him to the 40-man roster after the season and he signed with the ChiSox, who have used the 23-year-old southpaw to replace the injured John Danks. Like I said, they pluck the scrap heap as well as anyone. Quintana has pitched to a 1.25 ERA (2.96 FIP) in six starts and two relief appearances, relying more on his ability to limit walks (1.25 BB/9 and 3.7 BB%) than get strikeouts (4.98 K/9 and 14.8 K%) and grounders (41.1%). He is primarily a two-pitch pitcher — upper-80s fastball and low-80s slider — that will also throw an upper-70s curveball and once or twice a start, a mid-80s changeup. At some point his 0.42 HR/9 and 4.4% HR/FB will correct given his ground ball rate and home park, and hopefully the correction starts tomorrow.
Saturday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Jake Peavy
No longer the Cy Young Award winning version of himself, Peavy is having a legitimately excellent season after battling injuries for the last few years. He’s among the league leaders in ERA (2.84) and FIP (3.13) thanks to rock solid strikeout (7.74 K/9 and 22.0 K%) and walk (2.06 BB/9 and 5.9 BB%) rates. Peavy is very fly ball prone (34.4% grounders), however. He’ll use six different pitches, including three fastballs (low-90s two and four-seamers plus a mid-80s cutter), two breaking balls (low-80s slider and upper-70s curve), and a low-80s changeup. Peavy has been death on righties this season (.223 wOBA against), so this wouldn’t be a bad game to rest Alex Rodriguez and start Eric Chavez.
Sunday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Gavin Floyd
It’s been a tough year for the former fourth overall pick, as Floyd has pitched to a 4.80 ERA and 4.43 FIP. His strikeout rate (8.40 K/9 and 22.1 K%) is a career high, though his homerun rate (1.50 HR/9) is a career worst. The walk (2.40 BB/9 and 6.3 BB%) and ground ball (44.1%) rates are in line with his career norms. Floyd loves his mid-80s cutter, using it heavily along with his low-90s four-seamer and knockout upper-70s curve. He’ll mix in a handful of mid-80s changeup as well. Floyd hasn’t allowed a run in either of his last two starts and he’s known for going on stretches of dominance once the weather warms up, which may or may not be bad news for the Yankees. We’ll find out this weekend.
Ventura’s bullpen is been decent this season (3.87 ERA), and yesterday they ran lefty specialist Will Ohman into the ground (two innings and 46 pitches) before designating him for assignment after the game. That means everyone on the current roster is fresh coming into the series, including rookie closer Addison Reed (2.76 FIP). He’s a high strikeout (10.00 K/9 and 25.6 K%) flame-thrower that will walk people (3.67 BB/9 and 9.4 BB%) and give up fly balls (29.7% grounders). Reed is setup by the hard-throwing veteran left-hander Matt Thornton (3.08 FIP).
The rest of their relief corps features some veteran guys you know — Jesse Crain (2.92 FIP) and former Yankee Brian Bruney (5.05 FIP in limited time) — and some guys you’ve probably never heard of before — righty Nate Jones (3.42 FIP) and lefty Hector Santiago (5.56 FIP). It’s unclear who the ChiSox are bringing up to replace Ohman, but based on their 40-man roster, odds are in favor of it being a rookie who will make his big league debut. The Yankees’ bullpen is kind of a wreck following Andy Pettitte‘s short start yesterday, so check out our Bullpen Workload page for the details. Rafael Soriano is unlikely to be available tonight after appearing in four of the last five games. For the latest and greatest on the White Sox, check out South Side Sox.