The close of the season's first quarter is usually a good time to start determining what might be normal for the White Sox. Problem is, the schedule is going to carry the Sox through the 40-game mark in a weird way.
It starts with three home games against Kansas City over the weekend. Nothing strange about that. That's followed by two home games against Detroit, which is less common. Then they fly out to Los Angeles to play the Angels in another two-game series, only to fly right back to Chicago for the start of interleague play at Wrigley Field.
That results in this wild array of start times: 7:10, 6:10, 1:10, 7:10, 1:10 9:05, 2:35, 1:20, 6:15, 1:20.
Make sure you double-check your DVRs before leaving the house.
Irregular alarm clock settings aside, it's a pretty favorable stretch. Detroit's in the best position of those four teams, and the Tigers could best be described as "scuffling." Moreover, they'll miss each team's best starter -- Bruce Chen, Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver are all absent on the probables listings.
Still, this 10-game run is not without difficult matchups for these Sox, if only because they'll face four lefties. And the Sox have been terrible against lefties.
The White Sox are hitting .200/.279/.328 as a team against southpaws. Their .607 OPS is the lowest in the AL.
The first place to look is Adam Dunn, of course, as he's only 3-for-31. But you know who else is 3-for-31 against lefties? Alejandro De Aza. He's just been a lot sneakier about it. Add in the season-long problems plaguing the No. 2 spot (.140/.193/.186 overall), and the top of the order is just an awful scene all around with this particular split.
But hey, nobody expected De Aza and Dunn to rake against lefties. Their ceilings just aren't that high on account of their handedness. The plan calls for a righty-heavy lineup to cover for them, and that's just not happening.
The problem lies in right-handed hitters not named "Paul Konerko," who have combined for a grotesque line of .205/.245/.319. Look at the batting average leaderboard for Sox righties against lefties:
- Paul Konerko, .333
- Dayan Viciedo, .286
- Brent Morel, .217
- Alexei Ramirez, .214
- Alex Rios, .200
- Gordon Beckham, .200
- Eduardo Escobar, .200
- Tyler Flowers, .182
- Brent Lillibridge, .000.
When Morel ranks third in any semi-meaningful offensive category with the season he's having, there's a problem.
Unsurprisingly, the White Sox are 2-6 against left-handed starters this season, including five losses in their last six tries. They've averaged just 2.25 runs in those games, including three shutouts courtesy of Matt Harrison, Jon Lester and Tommy Milone. None of those guys are having good years at the moment, and their lines would look even worse if you removed their starts against the White Sox.
I'd imagine the Sox have nowhere to go but up in this case, although we have the power to imagine situations where hitters never regress to the mean, thanks to last year. Assuming improvement is indeed inevitable, though, they would be well served to turn these numbers around in a hurry. If they struggle to string together hits against lefty pitchers of any caliber, they're going to find it difficult to string together wins when the getting is good.