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

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.

Offense
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.

8/20-8/22 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

“I’m not ejecting you for arguing balls and strikes. I’m ejecting you for that batting stance.” (AP)

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.

Offense

80 power means you can blow as many bubbles as you want. (Getty)

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.

Pitching Matchups

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.

(Tasos Katopodis /Getty Images)

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.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Bullpen Status
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.

White Sox “zeroing in” on Dellin Betances

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.

6/28-7/1 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

(REUTERS/Eric Miller)

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.

Offense

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

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.

Pitching Matchups

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.

Funky changeup grip. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Bullpen Status
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.

2012 Season Preview: Rest of the AL

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Last week we took a nice long look at the teams who figure to be the Yankees’ primary competition this season, meaning the Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Angels, and Rangers. There are eight other clubs in the American League though, and the Yankees are going to play those eight teams quite a bit more than the five other contenders. Most of those eight teams aren’t very good, but every game counts the same.

Rather than doing a boring old offense/defense/pitching preview for each of those eight non-contenders, I decided to have a little fun with this one and put together some haikus. I encourage you to leave your own in the comments.

Baltimore Orioles
No pitching, few bats.
Buck is all talk and no bite.
Don’t dare dis Flanny!

Chicago White Sox
Rebuild or contend?
Kenny can’t seem to decide.
I wish we had Danks.

Cleveland Indians
Some funny names,
Asdrubal and Ubaldo?
Not winning this year.

Kansas City Royals
Hosmer is the shizz.
Young pitching ain’t quite there yet.
LOL Frenchy.

Minnesota Twins
Mauer and Morneau
Used to be really awesome.
Now they are broken.

Oakland Athletics
Yoenis is here.
Trade all of the pitchers!
Where are the fans?

Seattle Mariners
Felix is the man,
The rest of the team sucks.
I miss Montero.

Toronto Blue Jays
AA the best,
Until he gets Jeff Mathis.
New unis do rule.

Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

(Photo Credit: Flickr user EdKopp4 via Creative Commons license)

The homestand is over, and the Yankees are heading to Chicago’s south side to play a team with a losing record at home. The White Sox did split a four-game series in the Bronx earlier this year, two of their three wins during a 17-game stretch extending from mid-April to early-May. Weird stuff tends to happen to the Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field, there seems to be an inordinate amount of infield hits and great defensive plays and what not, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

What Have The White Sox Done Lately?

The ChiSox are trying to stay relevant in the AL Central race (they’re three back in the loss column), but two straight losses to the Red Sox hurt their cause. Ozzie Guillen’s team had won five of six before Boston took the last two, and overall they’re 7-6 since the All-Star break. The White Sox are 52-54 with a -7 run differential this year, about as close to a .500 true talent team as it gets.

White Sox On Offense

Didn't recognize him without the goatee. (Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

The Yankees might catch a little bit of a break right off the bat; Paul Konerko is not expected to play in the series opener tonight because of a bruised calf (UPDATE: Konerko is not in tonight’s lineup). Andrew Miller hit him with a pitch yesterday and he’s day-to-day after x-rays came back negative. Konerko is the ChiSox’s best hitter and it’s not particularly close, a .305/.385/.550 monster with the sixth most homeruns in baseball (25). That a significant right-handed batter to lose on the night CC Sabathia starting.

Stepping at first base will likely be Adam Dunn, the most disappointing disappointment to ever disappoint. He’s hitting .165/.298/.303 on the season after signing a four-year, $56M contract last winter, and just .041/.220/.041 against southpaws. Don’t be surprised if he sits tonight. If he does, Brent Lillibridge (yes, that Brent Lillibridge) would likely give it a go at first. He’s hitting .250/.336/.461 in part-time duty. Carlos Quentin is the only other player on the team producing at an above-average rate, a .261/.350/.501 hitter that’s already part of the rare 20/20/20 club. That’s 20 homers, 20 doubles, and 20 hit-by-pitches.

Alexei Ramirez is at .269/.333/.397 and A.J. Pierzynski at .283/.327/.386, the only other two guys in the lineup above a 90 OPS+. Gordon Beckham is a(nother) rushed prospect that has disappointed (.248/.307/.357), Juan Pierre is just bad (.275/.330/.324), and rookie Brent Morel has been overmatched (.253/.271/.305). Alex Rios has been so bad (.207/.253/.296) that he’s losing playing time to Alejandro De Aza (eight at-bats so far, and the only time he’s reached base was on a homer). Omar Vizquel does nothing off the bench (.263/.291/.316), and quality backup catcher Ramon Castro (.235/.307/.456) is injured. The White Sox have the tenth worst wOBA in baseball (.308), so losing Konerko for even a day is a killer.

White Sox On The Mound

Monday, RHP Jake Peavy (vs. CC Sabathia): It’s a matchup of 2007 Cy Young Award winners. Sabathia out-bWAR’d Peavy 6.8 to 6.2 that year, and he’s massively outperformed him since. That mostly due to Peavy’s injuries (ankle, elbow, shoulder), which have cost him more than a full season’s worth of playing time. The now 30-year-old righty has made seven starts since his latest DL stint, putting 60 runners on base in 37.2 IP (5.73 ERA, ~3.00 FIP thanks to a miniscule homer rate). Peavy’s fastball(s) still sit in the low-90’s but are trending downward with the injuries, though it’s always been about life and movement for him. His heater runs all over the place, and it still does. A changeup and slider are his two secondary pitches, and he’ll also mix in a curve. He’s not the same guy he was when he won the Cy, but he’s still quite good.

Tuesday, LHP John Danks (vs. Phil Hughes): Luckily Joe told you everything you need to know about Danks less than two weeks, so I’ll just refer you to that. In two starts since coming back from his oblique injury, Danks has allowed one run in 13 IP, striking out 16 and walking four.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, RHP Gavin Floyd (vs. A.J. Burnett): Mark Teixeira‘s neighbor growing up, Floyd has allowed just two earned runs across 22.1 IP in three starts since the All-Star break, taking his season ERA down from 4.59 to 3.96. He’s a low-90’s four-seamer/mid-80’s cutter guy, missing bats with a high-70’s curveball that’s among the best in baseball. Floyd doesn’t have much of a changeup and struggles against lefties because of it. He beat the Yankees already once this year (8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 10 K) and has traditionally been tough against them, but it’s a five start (and one relief appearance) sample.

Thursday, RHP Phil Humber (vs. Ivan Nova/Bartolo Colon): So it turns out that Humber doesn’t suck. Yankees’ fans were irate after Humber shut them down back in April (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K), but he shut everyone else down in the first half and carried a sub-3.00 ERA into July. The second half has not been kind to Humber though, he’s put 28 men on base in 14 IP, allowing at least four runs in all three starts. We’ve heard all about his new cutter and how it’s helped him resurrect his career, but PitchFX hasn’t been able to pick the pitch and says he’s thrown zero this year. Maybe the break is so subtle that it’s registering as a four-seamer. Anyway, Humber uses his low-90’s heat and high-70’s curve two-thirds of the time, filling in the gaps with a pair of low-80’s offerings: a slider and changeup. I feel confident in saying he won’t one-hit the Yankees for seven innings again).

The Yankees, meanwhile, have announced that Colon with start Thursday’s game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they started Nova instead. That would allow them to start Bartolo in Fenway against the Red Sox on Friday. (UPDATE: Yep, the Yankees just announced that it’s Nova on Thursday, Colon on Friday)

Bullpen: It took some time to figure out the ninth inning, but former infielder Sergio Santos is the undisputed closer now. He actually got his first two saves of the season against the Yankees in April. He’s a strikeout machine (11.71 K/9) but will walk himself in trouble (4.37 BB/9). Hard-throwing southpaw Matt Thornton wasn’t traded before yesterday’s deadline, and he’s got a 9.00 K/9 and 3.75 BB/9. Those numbers are actually bad for him compared to the last few years, when he was routinely north of 12 K/9 and under 3 BB/9. Lefties are also hitting him far better than they should be.

New import Jason Frasor (3.63 FIP) just came over in the Edwin Jackson-Colby Rasmus three-team deal, and high-price import Jesse Crain (3.34 FIP) as been solid in setup work. Former Yankee Brian Bruney has been terrible (5.84 FIP) in limited action, and he was hung out to dry for 58 pitches on Saturday. We might not see him until tomorrow at the earliest. Lefty Will Ohman is the quintessential LOOGY with a big platoon split, though fellow lefty Chris Sale (3.25 FIP) is slightly better against righties. It’s a solid bullpen but not an unbeatable one, especially now that Thornton has returned to mortality.

Recommended White Sox Reading: South Side Sox. Here’s some ticket pricing info if you happen to be in Chicago this week and watch to catch a game or four. RAB Tickets can help you get in for cheap.

Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

The White Sox are a team that’s easy to hate. Their manager has gone from great quote to tiresome, their catcher is universally hated around the game, their play-by-play guy is insufferable, and for the next four days they are the enemy. The Yankees return home from a rocky but ultimately successful road trip through Toronto and Baltimore, kicking off the next leg of their 17 games in 17 days stretch* against a team mired in the slumpiest of slumps.

* Friday’s rain out turned it into 16 games in 16 days.

What Have The White Sox Done Lately?

The Yankees seem to have run into a lot of slumping teams of late, and the ChiSox certainly fit the bill. Ozzie Guillen’s club has lost three straight and ten of their last eleven, getting outscored 56-25 in the process. They haven’t scored a run since the seventh inning of Friday’s game, and haven’t scored a non-solo homerun run since the eighth inning of Thursday’s game. “Nothing works,” said Guillen after yesterday’s loss. “It seems like every day is a rewind movie. Seeing the same at-bats and seems like everybody we face is pretty nasty.”

White Sox On Offense

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Like I said, Chicago’s been struggling with the bats. They’ve scored just 21 runs in their last ten games, and nine of those runs came on Thursday. Their hottest hitter (by far) is Carlos Quentin, who has eleven hits (four doubles, four homers), two walks, and three hit-by-pitches in his last 45 plate appearances (.275/.356/.675). Paul Konerko seemed to break out of a prolonged slump by collecting five hits (including a double and homer) total on Thursday and Friday, but he took an 0-for-4 on Saturday (with three strikeouts) and had Sunday off. A.J. Pierzynski’s seven game hitting streak consists of nine singles, so he’s not exactly tearing the cover off the ball. Aside from those three, Guillen’s offense has been a wreck.

Adam Dunn is buried in a nasty 2-for-30 (.067) slump with 15 strikeouts, and he’s only drawn three walks during that time as well. Alex Rios hasn’t gotten a hit since last Sunday (just two walks and a HBP in his last 23 PA), and Alexei Ramirez has two singles and two walks in his last 24 PA. Gordon Beckham has reached base once in his last 25 PA (a single) and four times in his last 39 PA (two singles, a double, and he reached on an error). Mark Teahen highlights the rest of the offense (we’re talking Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel, Brent Morel, etc.) with a .334 wOBA. As a team, the ChiSox own a .303 wOBA and a .308 OBP. Yeah, they’ve had trouble hitting.

White Sox On The Mound

Monday: Phil Humber: Claimed off waivers twice this offseason, you might remember Humber for being part of the Johan Santana trade. Safe to say that he never delivered on his promise as the third overall pick of the 2004 draft, but Chicago was encouraged by the cutter he learning from pitching coach and cutter guru Don Cooper in Spring Training. After two relief appearances, Humber has pitched to a 3.86 ERA in three starts that have gotten progressively worse: one earned run in his first start, two in his second, four in his fourth. He doesn’t strike out many batters (just 11 K in 18.2 IP this year) but he won’t walk many either (5 BB), and his ground ball rate is just okay in the low-40% range. Humber relies heavily on a low-90’s fastball, a low-80’s curve, and a mid-80’s changeup, and for whatever reason, PitchFX says he hasn’t thrown that cutter in the regular season. That’s probably a classification issue though.

Tuesday: Gavin Floyd: Floyd’s name popped up in a few trade rumors this past offseason, but he’s still in a White Sox uniform. He’s gone at least six inning in each of his four starts, and he’s actually alternated poor outings with good ones: four runs in seven innings in his first start, one unearned run in eight innings in his second, six runs in six innings in his third, and two runs in seven innings in his fourth. He’s due for a stinker. As always, Floyd misses bats (7.67 K/9, 8.5% swing-and-miss rate), limit walks (2.33 BB/9), and gets ground balls (48.7% ground ball rate) with a fastball (low-90’s), cutter (mid-80’s), curveball (upper 70’s), and changeup (mid-80’s). The curve has been his calling card since the day he was drafted, and if he gets ahead with two strikes, that pitch is coming more than 60% of the time.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Wednesday: Mark Buehrle: Aside from a dominant showing against the Athletics in his third start (eight innings, two hits, no runs), it’s been a brutal season for Buerhle. The usually reliable left-hander has allowed at least four runs in each of his other four starts, pitching into the seventh inning just once. He’s also walked seven and allowed 34 hits in just 22.2 IP in those starts. The Yankees have traditionally had their way with the changeup artist, tagging him for 14 runs in three starts (15 IP) over the last three seasons. Buerhle will bore you to death with that changeup and three mid-80’s fastballs (four-seam, two-seam, cutter). He’ll also break out the occasional curveball, but there are no surprises here.

Thursday: Edwin Jackson: The former Dodger, Ray, Tiger, and Diamondback has enjoyed the best success of his career under Cooper’s watch in Chicago. Four of his five highest single game strikeout totals have come in a White Sox uniform, including a 13 whiff game against the Rays earlier this season. He’s missing more bats than ever (just about a strikeout per inning with the Sox) thanks to a new (wait for it) cutter and increased reliance on his slider. Jackson has allowed 12 runs in his last two starts though (12.2 IP, 23 H, 4 BB) and the Yankees have seen plenty of him in the past (11 career starts vs. New York, plus four relief appearances), so again, no surprises here.

Bullpen: Guillen’s bullpen, at least his core relievers, come into the series well rested. Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton, Chris Sale, and Sergio Santos have thrown a combined 6.1 IP over the last seven days, though Thornton and Crain each pitched an inning yesterday. The mop-up crew – Jeff Gray, Will Ohman, and Tony Pena – have done much of the heavy lifting of late, throwing eight innings total over the last five days.

Thornton was supposed to be Guillen’s rock at the end of the game, but he blew his first four save opportunities of the year and has been brought into mop-up spots his last two times out. Sale’s been slightly better, and really the team’s two most reliable relievers have been Crain (5 H, 11 K in 10.1 IP) and the former infielder Santos (13 K, 5 H in 9.2 IP, but 5 BB). That’s not exactly how they drew it up in Spring Training. The White Sox probably won’t be out of any game because their starting pitching is very good, but the Yankees have a way of waiting those guys out and going to town on the middle relief.

Recommended White Sox Reading: South Side Sox