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Series Preview: Chicago White Sox


Current Series

3 game series vs White Sox @ Metrodome

Chicago White Sox
@ Minnesota Twins

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2008, 8:10 PM EDT
Metrodome

Javier Vazquez vs Scott Baker

Complete Coverage >

Wed 09/24 8:10 PM EDT
Thu 09/25 8:10 PM EDT


Going In, In Brief

This will be the third time I've done a series preview for a set with the South Siders this season. On the first occasion, the Twins were 10-14, and three point five games behind Chicago for first place. The second time, the Twins were 57-47 (and losers of five straight, meaning they'd been 15 games over .500 in the midst of July...sad how fortunes haven't improved). Amazingly enough, at that time the Twins were STILL two and a half games behind the Sox. Since then Minnesota has gone 27-25; Chicago 27-25. These two clubs, who looked so promising as the summer was coming into full bloom, have been decidedly mediocre every since.

At 84-72, the Twins are just 7-12 in September and are doing everything they can to let the White Sox back into the division title. Chicago, meanwhile, at 86-69 is having an identity crisis of its own, playing like a third place team with a 9-10 record this month. Sadly, the Cleveland Indians mounted their charge too late; a 13-7 record in September and a 23-10 record since August 17th is just too little too late. It's a shame too, because right now they're far and away the best team in the AL Central. Honestly, whether it's the Twins or White Sox that sneak into October's post-season extravaganza, Cleveland still looks like the division's best team right now.

At any rate, the Indians will still be watching the playoffs from their couches. This week it's all about Minnesota and Chicago, and thankfully there are no ties in baseball because one of these teams will have to win the division whether they like it or not. Here's the side-by-side team glance:

White Sox Pitching Twins
4.41 RAPG 4.62
9.04 H/9 9.72
2.83 BB/9 2.51
7.07 K/9 6.12
0.96 HR/9 1.14
White Sox Offense Twins
4.98 RPG 5.13
.334 OBP .340
.450 SLG .409
223 HR 108
63 SB 95

Probable Pitchers

Javier Vazquez VS Scott Baker
Mark Buehrle VS Nick Blackburn
Gavin Floyd VS Kevin Slowey

Opposition Focus

Javier Vazquez: It's been a bit of an up-and-down year for Vazquez. After a bit of a career resurgence in '07 he's slipped back toward his career averages again, particularly where baserunners are concerned. He's still more than capable of having a big night striking hitters out, but we're getting him in the Dome, and he's a significantly worse pitcher away from Chicago. With lefties getting to him easier than right-handers, Gardenhire should layer the lineup with Jason Kubel, Brian Buscher and even Nick Punto. With the uncertainty regarding our starters getting out of the early innings, any offense is good offense. I'd be starting Denard Span in center, with Michael Cuddyer starting in right and Carlos Gomez getting the night off. Vazquez throws a good fastball with movement in the low 90's, a mid-80's slider, a low-80's changeup and a curve that can tie hitters up with the change in speed, coming in around 75 mph.

Mark Buehrle: Over his last four starts he's been Mega-Man for Chicago, lasting 25.1 innings and allowing just six earned runs. Over the years he's been Mega-Man for Chicago against the Twins--he's an arch nemesis that's familiar and leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and only a win can wash it away until the next time. Much like Vazquez, he's tougher on righties and he's tougher at home, which means that in a world where I'm looking for any possible edge to give the Twins I'm coming up with another easy one. No surprise to anyone, Buehre is having a good season, but there are two things I've noticed that are much different than last season. First, he's throwing harder; every one of his pitches has a bit of extra kick this year. Second, he's getting more ground balls (48.7%, up from 43.2% in 2007). For what it's worst, he's 1-2 against the Twins this season--one great start and a pair that he'd probably like to forget.

Gavin Floyd: Having the best season of his career, the seemingly over-achieving Floyd has been a bit more human since the beginning of August. The home runs have started to haunt him again, because while his homer-to-flyball ratio is still far below what it's been the past couple of years, it's creeping back up. With an average in baseball around 11%, give or take a tenth here or there, Floyd's back up to 12.2%. Looking at it another way, it's 1.39 HR/9...and that's not good. On a bit of a skid and with the Twins (hopefully) breathing down his neck, maybe the pressure gets to him; he's still relatively young in this league in spite of his service time, and he definitely hasn't been "himself" over his last few starts. If the Twins can get to him early, they might have a golden opportunity. Just like Vazquez and Buehrle, he's not as sharp versus left-handed hitters (.828 opponent OPS), so here's hoping we see a lot of Kubel this series.

Carlos Quentin: He won't be playing. Or, if he does, he won't be himself. That's nice.

Paul Konerko: While it's too late to turn around his season line completely, he's doing a fine job of helping Chicago out with his bat. In August he hit .333/.483/.591; so far in September .298/.353/.600. The nine homers he's hit in that span (113 AB's) equal how many he hit from April to the end of July (175 AB's). Under no circumstances should he face a southpaw: .375/.412/.875 in September. Better yet, since he's basically a hitting machine right now, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pitch around him in appropriate situations. Otherwise, it's still important to be aggressive and have confidence in how he's pitched to; he'll destroy mistakes against familiar pitchers.

Jermaine Dye: Seriously. I run out of good things to say about Jermaine Dye. He's 34, he's hitting .290/.344/.542 with 32 homers and 41 doubles, and he just comes out and plays, period. He's been a bit off his game in August and September, hitting just .244/.286/.465, so many there are a few more weaknesses that Twins pitchers can exploit at this juncture of the season, but generally speaking he can't be taken lightly. This is a dangerous lineup.

Jim Thome: 33 homers, 125 OPS+ and no way he moves better than the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz. Excellent strike zone judgement but still strikes out a lot. Used to hit fifth until Quentin got hurt, which was probably a better spot for him considering the options Ozzie Guillen has for his lineup card, but he's 38 and still a great cleanup hitter. In any era of baseball, Thome would rake.

Dewayne Wise: A 30-year old journeyman outfielder who's been thrust into a center field job for a playoff contender and division leader, he's making the most of his opportunity. Wise is a career .221/.258/.402 hitter in 443 at-bats over parts of six MLB seasons between four different teams, but right now it's simply that he's the Hot Bat. Since September 9th he's 11-for-38 with four homers, two doubles and a pair of walks, and as far as short term solutions for the replacement of Carlos Quentin's offense goes, that's pretty damn good. He's an aggressive swinger who's made good contact recently, but with his track record he's likely to chill out at any time--he swings at 33% of pitches outside of the strikezone, he strikes out on 25% of his plate appearances, and even in the minors he struggled until he was old enough to dominate younger competition. In 12 minor league seasons he's hit .259/.310/.422. Of course now that I've played him down, he'll hit two homers this week en route to a 7-for-11 series. Just my luck.

Ken Griffey Jr.: He's hit fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh for the Sox, and as much as I hate to say this...I'm glad he's not tearing it up right now. Griffey isn't providing any more power for the Sox, belting just one homer since coming over from the Reds. His OPS is .678; I can't help but wonder if all those innings in center field are eating him up a little bit. Sure, he was playing in right in Cincy, but there's a lot more ground to cover in center, and a bit more going on. And even though it's The Kid, well, The Kid isn't getting any younger.

Stats


Batting

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
Alexei Ramirez 128 452 60 133 22 2 20 72 14 59 12 9 .294 .317 .485
Jermaine Dye 146 559 92 162 41 2 32 89 42 100 3 2 .290 .344 .542
Dewayne Wise 49 104 19 30 4 2 6 17 5 26 7 0 .288 .321 .538
Carlos Quentin 130 480 96 138 26 1 36 100 66 80 7 3 .287 .394 .571
AJ Pierzynski 126 504 63 142 29 1 12 57 19 66 1 0 .282 .313 .415
Orlando Cabrera 153 629 88 177 32 1 7 55 54 70 18 6 .281 .335 .369
Toby Hall 41 127 7 33 3 0 2 7 6 19 0 0 .260 .304 .331
Ken Griffey Jr. 35 113 11 28 8 0 1 14 14 23 0 0 .248 .333 .345
Joe Crede 97 335 41 83 18 1 17 55 30 45 0 3 .248 .314 .460
Juan Uribe 102 299 36 74 22 1 7 38 20 63 1 3 .247 .296 .398
Jim Thome 141 474 88 116 26 0 33 88 86 137 1 0 .245 .363 .508
Paul Konerko 114 408 53 99 18 1 18 55 62 77 2 0 .243 .349 .424
Brian Anderson 103 173 23 41 13 0 8 25 9 43 5 1 .237 .275 .451
Nick Swisher 147 489 84 108 20 1 24 69 80 132 3 3 .221 .333 .413
Josh Fields 13 32 3 5 1 0 0 2 3 17 0 0 .156 .229 .188

Pitching

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
Mike MacDougal 0-0 15 0 0 0 0 0 15.1 16 3 3 0 9 10 1.76 1.63
Bobby Jenks 3-0 54 0 0 0 29 2 57.1 47 16 16 3 15 34 2.51 1.08
Matt Thornton 5-3 70 0 0 0 1 5 64.0 45 19 19 5 19 75 2.67 1.00
Esteban Loaiza 0-0 3 0 0 0 0 0 3.0 3 2 1 1 0 1 3.00 1.00
Scott Linebrink 2-2 47 0 0 0 1 3 44.0 36 16 15 8 8 35 3.07 1.00
John Danks 11-8 31 31 0 0 0 0 183.0 173 67 65 13 53 150 3.20 1.23
D.J. Carrasco 1-0 28 0 0 0 0 1 37.0 29 15 15 1 13 28 3.65 1.14
Gavin Floyd 16-8 31 31 1 0 0 0 194.2 174 101 83 30 67 133 3.84 1.24
Mark Buehrle 14-11 32 32 1 0 0 0 204.2 223 102 88 21 47 131 3.87 1.32
Octavio Dotel 4-4 70 0 0 0 1 4 64.0 52 34 28 12 29 88 3.94 1.27
Javier Vazquez 12-14 31 31 1 0 0 0 200.0 202 101 96 23 58 192 4.32 1.30
Jose Contreras 7-6 20 20 1 0 0 0 121.0 130 64 61 12 35 70 4.54 1.36
Adam Russell 4-0 21 0 0 0 0 0 25.2 30 15 15 1 10 22 5.26 1.56
Boone Logan 2-3 54 0 0 0 0 1 42.0 55 29 26 5 14 42 5.57 1.64
Clayton Richard 2-5 11 8 0 0 0 0 42.2 55 34 29 5 12 29 6.12 1.57
Lance Broadway 1-0 6 1 0 0 0 0 13.1 19 11 11 4 5 7 7.42 1.80
Ehren Wassermann 1-2 23 0 0 0 0 0 19.1 27 19 17 0 13 8 7.91 2.07
Horacio Ramirez 0-3 15 0 0 0 0 0 11.1 22 10 10 0 8 2 7.94 2.65