Series Preview: Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland Indians

bheise1983
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Cleveland Indians Look to Bounce Back After Disappointing Weekend

Well, that probably could have gone better because it sure as heck couldn’t get any worse. That’s got to be the thinking for a lot of Cleveland Indians fans right now. After suffering a three game drubbing at the hands of the Detroit Tigers over the weekend, the Indians find themselves sitting at the back of the pack in terms of the top two AL Central division contenders. Entering play today, the Tigers and Royals sit atop the division with a combined record of 13-1 (The Tigers finally lost a game on Monday).

There are high hopes for the Indians’ 2015 campaign, but in order to accomplish any of those goals (division crown, World Series title, global domination, etc.) the Indians need to find a way to solve the mystery that has become the Tigers. They have only worsened what was already a putrid head-to-head record and this weekend’s events did nothing to help their already wavering confidence. This team is by no means as bad as the one that was out scored 25 to 15, but are they as good as the one that limited the Astros to three runs over the course of three games? Only time will tell.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Michael Brantley is currently struggling with a lower back issue and Yan Gomes is out 6-8 weeks with a sprained MCL. If you listen closely, you can barely make out the sounds of fellow staff writer Kyle Downing crying about the Yanimal off in the distance. Take the number 3 and 5 hitters out of any lineup and they are sure to struggle.

May 12, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes (10) and left fielder Michael Brantley (23) congratulate each other after scoring in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox share in the Indians’ current state of misery. They come into play today with a similar 2-4 record and have had very little to be happy about after the first week of play. Granted, they ran into the buzz saw better known as the Kansas City Royals to start the season, but this is not the start they had in mind after an offseason that included the acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija, Melky Cabrera, and David Robertson.

Surprisingly after the first week of the season, the White Sox’s biggest issue has been scoring runs. Considering the lineup they will trot out on a day-to-day basis, this is not something anyone could have possibly expected. However, like with most assessments at this point in the season, the sample size is so incredibly small that it’s hard to draw any rational conclusions. Pitching is supposed to be ahead of hitting, that has been the historical trend since the dawn of time, so there is no reason for fans of the White Sox (Supposedly they exist, although I’m not sure why) to panic.

But for the sake of pointing fingers, and because I need something to talk about for about another 300 words, let’s find another reason for the White Sox issues.

Right now the main issue has to be the lack of impact from Jose Abreu. After a sensational debut season that saw him jack 36 homers and drive in 106 runs, expectations were high for a repeat performance. So far the results have been mixed. Clearly opposing pitchers have tried to stay away from Abreu in an attempt to keep him from beating them singlehandedly. Small sample size alert! The result is a .233/.333/.476 slash line with only one home run and one RBI. Clearly, that trend is not going to hold up. Abreu is going to get hot eventually and by the time it’s all said and done his slash line will look more like the .317/.383/.581 he posted in 2014.

If this past weekend is any indication, then Abreu will probably get himself righted over the next two days. After all, it worked for Miguel Cabrera. He entered the weekend batting .182/.357/.273 and left Cleveland hitting .520/.586/.840. No, I am not making that up. Cabrera lit up Indians pitching by going 11 for 14 with two home runs and six RBI. Lit up is too kind of a word. Cabrera went nuclear. Hopefully the Indians have learned from past mistakes and will do their best to keep Abreu from doing the same.

In Abreu’s defense, though, the rest of the team around him hasn’t done much to give him run producing opportunities. Currently, the White Sox as a team are batting only .273 with an OBP of .270. Other linchpins in the White Sox lineup, Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez, and Adam LaRoche, are all hitting well below or just barely above the Mendoza line. I don’t care who you are, but if the guys around you aren’t doing much of anything, it’s going to be that much harder to make a devastating impact. If the White Sox can correct that issue, we should see an uptick in Abreu’s offensive production and ultimately the White Sox creeping up in the standings.

From a pitching perspective, the White Sox have two elite level starters in Chris Sale and Samardzija and a bunch of also rans in Hector Noesi, John Danks, and Jose Quintana. The latter two, both of which are by no coincidence left-handed, will face off against the Indians today and tomorrow. Sale and Samardzija will get theirs, but it will be the success or failure of the rest of the bunch that will ultimately determine the fate of the 2015 White Sox. If they can get one or two of them to catch lightning in a bottle, this has the makings of a great team. However, if the back half of the rotation struggles, it’s just as likely that this is a 70 win team.

For the Indians, it will be important to put the events of the weekend behind them in a hurry. If they let the questions that arose over the weekend linger, things could spiral out of control in a hurry.

Probable Pitching Match-ups:

  • Jose Quintana (0-0, 9.00 ERA/2.00 WHIP) vs. Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 0-00/0.63)
  • John Danks (0-1, 6.35/1.41) vs. Trevor Bauer (1-0, 0.00/0.83)

Next: Wahoos on the Mic: Rebounding After the Tigers

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