Your Chicago White Sox welcome the Cleveland Guardians to Sox Park for a four game set to close out the miserable month of July. OK, “welcome” is a stretch, but a team not named Twins or Cubs feels like a welcome change, even if the outcome of the games likely won’t be any different. The Sox are a miserable 5-14 in July. Yes, you read that right.
What Have the Guardians Been Up To?
It is no secret that the AL Central is bad. The top two teams in the division are both inarguably mediocre. The Twins you should know well by this point, and if you thought they were “mid,” allow me to reintroduce you to the very middling, 51-51 Cleveland Guardians. Cleveland, they of a scintillating 13-13 record against the worst division in baseball before just taking two of three from the lowly Kansas City Royals, entered that series with a run differential of -3 and an AL fourth-worst 412 runs scored. Only Pittsburgh, Detroit, Kansas City, and Oakland had scored fewer runs on the season at that point. Two of those names should be all-too-familiar to you dear reader, as they both reside in our same, awful division. Of course all of these numbers have since skyrocketed in the past three days as we enter play today. Playing the Royals has a tendency to pad your team stats.
Despite Cleveland’s mediocre run differential (currently sitting +6 after outscoring K.C., 16-9, in the past three games), what seems to keep these Guardians afloat is their pitching. Their 3.84 team ERA is good for seventh-best in all of baseball, and fifth-best in the American League. Cleveland’s 422 runs allowed places them fifth-best in baseball, and they are only one of two teams in the Top 10 in fewest runs allowed, with a run differential less than +10.
Does any of this data make them a good team? No. But it does make them firmly the second-best team in a bad division, which is to say, better than their opponent this series. While the Guardians have only scored five fewer runs than the White Sox to date, the Sox have allowed 94 more runs to cross the plate. Ninety Four. Yeah. Cleveland sits a mere two games back of the Twins, while the Pale Hose sit 10 1⁄2 games back of Cleveland and 12 1⁄2 back of the division-leading Twins.
Cleveland is a team currently sitting with a .500 record, but they have spent the majority of the season on the bad side of mediocre. Their high-water mark on the season is three games better than .500, a feat reached twice in April, starting out 4-1, and again reaching the mark on April 15, at 9-6. Cleveland fell to 14-18 by May 5, 20-26 on May 21, and 25-32 on June 2. They slowly climbed back to the .500 mark on July 22 at 49-49. They currently sit 51-51, and will likely climb back in the black this weekend for the first time since late April, as they take on a White Sox team in free-fall.
What Are the Pitching Matchups? How Do We Match Up?
The White Sox and Guardians last faced each other in the latter half of May, each in their opponent’s respective ballparks. The South Siders won both series, 2-1, and have a 4-2 record against Cleveland. To date, the White Sox 4-2 record vs Cleveland is their best record against any other AL Central team. Will that hold true after this four-game set on the South Side? Doubtful. The White Sox have lost five straight and are have already begun dismantling this once-promising roster with last night’s trade of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López. Calling this rapid decent toward the baseball cellar a free-fall feels generous after this disastrous week. With half of Chicago’s pitching staff on Hug Watch, and already down two arms, these matchups are tentative and subject to change.
Thursday, July 27
Friday, July 28
This had been Lucas Giolito’s spot. Sammy Peralta was just called up to the White Sox today; he’s not quite a starter, but then, [insert White Sox rotation joke here].
Saturday, July 29
Although Touki Toussaint pitched an inning on Wednesday, the White Sox don’t seem to really care how or how much they use him, as found money this season. So pencil T.T. in here.
Sunday, July 30
This White Sox roster likely does not survive this series or this weekend intact. Change is desperately needed at 35th & Shields beyond simply shuffling in different players. The architects of a team 20+ games worse than .500 at the trade deadline have not earned the right to oversee the dismantling and subsequent selloff, yet no one to our knowledge has lost their jobs, or are even in jeopardy. Thus is life being a diehard fan of this sorry-ass organization.