RECORDS: A’s 50-41 White Sox 42-44
Game Times: Friday 9:05/Saturday & Sunday 3:05
TV: Friday & Saturday NBCSN/Sunday WGN
Still Bashin’ Bros: Athletics Nation
Game 1: Mike Fiers vs. Chevy Nova
Game 2: Chris Bassit vs. TBD (Probably Dylan Cease)
Game 3: Brett Anderson vs. Reynaldo Lopez
PROBABLE A’S LINEUP:
1. Marcus Seimen – SS
2. Robbie Grossman – LF
3. Matt Olson – 1B
4. Khris Davis – DH
5. Matt Chapman – 3B
6. Josh Phegley – C
7. Ramon Laureano – CF
8. Mark Canha – RF
9. Franklin Barreto – 2B
PROBABLE WHITE SOX LINEUP
1. Leury Garcia – SS
2. Yoan Moncada – 3B
3. Jose Abreu – 1B
4. James McCann – C
5. Eloy Jimenez – LF
6. Jon Jay – RF
7. Yolmer Sanchez – 2B
8. Ryan Cordell – CF
9. Zack Collins (hopefully)- DH
So now begins the back nine of what can be considered a fairly successful first half for the White Sox, despite the sub .500 record. There are a couple of storylines that bear watching, mostly the usage of the younger members of the Sox roster from here on out. Kicking off the 2nd half is a series against the Oakland A’s, a team with playoff aspirations and the record to back it up. They’re currently locked in a battle with the 2 Texas based teams, jockeying for position in the AL west. The smart money is on the Astros to sew it up on the back 9, and the regression monster finally coming for the surprising Rangers. This leaves Team Moneyball to take their standard spot as the other AL wild card team, destined to be smoked by Tampa Bay or Boston.
The A’s have made it this far mostly living off their surprising starting pitching, anchored by Mike Fiers and the surprising Frankie Montas, though I guess it’s not THAT surprising since he just got popped with an 80 game suspension for performance enhancers. Fiers actually has been one of the better AL starters since May, tossing a No-No earlier. He currently sports a respectable 3.87 ERA, with a 1.10 WHIP. He doesn’t strike many people out, but he keeps the ball in the yard, especially at the canyon-esque Coliseum he calls home. He’s also a giant dickhead, and is probably upset he’s missing out on a chance to throw at Tim Anderson’s head. Brett Anderson and Chris Bassit have also been solid, even if most A’s fans couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup. Their bullpen is also lights out, and is set to eclipse the 6.0 WAR they put up last season during their surprising wild card run. Fangraphs currently has them as the most successful pen in the majors so far this season. Closer Blake Treinen has for the time being lost his spot to Liam Hendricks due to a rotater cuff strain, but should resume the gig now that he’s off the IL. He wasn’t exactly lights out before the strain, however, posting a 4.17 ERA and blowing 4 saves. His slider, which had been his out pitch in previous years, has been ditched for a new cut fastball. Apparently it’s not cutting enough, because it’s being hit harder than any other of his offerings.
The A’s hitters, while not the murderer’s row offered up by the Dodgers or the Twins (ugh. Really?), can still hurt you top to bottom. They currently sit right in the top third of the league in hitting according to Fangraphs, and the team BABIP actually shows they’ve been the victim of some bad luck thus far. Matt Chapman leads the way again, building off his impressive breakout season last year. He’s already knocked out 21 dingers thus far, and maintains an .887 OBPS, which is exactly the type of player that gives Billy Beane night sweats. Khris Davis, though hampered by some injuries so far, continues to provide pop in the heart of the lineup. Old Friend Marcus Seimen continues to provide much improved D up the middle, and has added a little pop to his game, slugging .105 above his career average. Even though Timmy has SS locked down for the future, this trade still stings seeing what Seimen has turned into.
As for the Sox, while it was fun seeing Giolito, McCann and Abreu in the All Star game (despite Jose going GIDP in his only at bat) it’s time to get back to doing what they do best: sit just below .500 while playing entertaining baseball for most of the time. With no starter officially listed for Saturday yet, one would have to assume it would be start #2 for Dylan Cease. If not, I guess we get to see more of Hoss Detwiler, though Covey may be available as well. I’d much rather Covey slot into long relief, as it seems to be his destiny on this club. Nova gets the start tonight, and it will be interesting to see if he can build on the little streak he had for himself before the break. With 2 of the 3 A’s starters set to be RHP, this would be a good time to give Zack Collins a few starts either behind the dish or at 1B to give Jose a breather. Will it happen? With Palka being sent back down, you’d think so but we shall see. Having a few extra days off will probably help a few of the Sox starters, as nagging injuries to Leury and Yoan could’ve used the extra time.
While the Sox -71 run differential screams 2nd half regression, some of that could be mitigated by having more than 2/5ths of an actual MLB starting rotation. Either way, I’m hopeful for the future (and a Luis Robert September callup) and excited to see what the trade deadline and the 2nd half brings to the team. Time to crank it up, fire it up.
Let’s Go Sox!