The Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins square off in game two of a three-game series tonight at 7:10 central time at Guaranteed Rate Field on Chicago’s southside.
The series was originally scheduled to be a four-game series from Monday-Thursday, but Monday’s game was postponed due to Wednesday and is scheduled to be made up on July 19th.
The White Sox took Tuesday’s game 7-6 behind six innings of three-run ball from Lucas Giolito. Closer Liam Hendriks recorded his 20th save of the season in his 23rd opportunity but allowed an earned run in the ninth inning.
Wednesday’s game features another one of the White Sox’s bright young arms against a 25-year-old Bailey Ober, who is looking for his first Major League win in his sixth start of the season.
Whose on the mound?
Bailey Ober is scheduled to make his sixth start of the season on Wednesday night, but he has yet to record a win this season for Minnesota. His 4.64 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched leaves a lot to be desired.
Still, in his rookie season, Ober seems to be facing some difficulties trying to fight through major league lineups. His 1.31 WHIP makes it difficult for him to get comfortable pitching out of the wind-up. Ober does deserve some credit, though, as he has just four walks in his five starts, so he hasn’t had the best batted ball luck this season. In fact, opponents have a .345 BABIP this season against Ober, so bad luck really is a factor in Ober’s struggles.
For the White Sox, another 25-year-older will take the ball. Dylan Cease is making his 16th start of the season. Cease has a 6-3 record this season with a 3.81 ERA in 75.2 innings pitched. Cease has the same WHIP as Ober this season, but his BABIP is just at a .317 mark this season, so similar to Ober, Cease hasn’t had the greatest luck with ball in play.
Cease was expected to make a bigger impact in the White Sox starting rotation this season, but he has yet to meet expectations, so stacking back-to-back quality starts would be big for the young righty before heading into the All-Star break in a couple of weeks.
Few teams have been ravaged by injuries as much as the White Sox this season. With star outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert both being placed on the 60-day IL, the White Sox have had to put the pieces together in their outfield. In the infield, shortstop Tim Anderson missed a couple of weeks early in the season, and within the last couple of weeks, second baseman Nick Madrigal suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.
Manager Tony La Russa — despite whatever criticism he might deserve — has always been creative with his lineup cards, but in the last 10 his lineups haven’t produced many runs. The White Sox have scored just 34 runs in their 10 games, but two of those games were seven-inning double-headers against the Seattle Mariners.
The White Sox could really benefit from getting reigning American League MVP Jose Abreu going at the plate, but he has been forced to play with nagging injuries all season. Most recently, he was hit by a pitch on the knee and on Sunday.
Still, he’s hitting just .240 this season with 12 home runs and what would be a career-worst .754 OPS. Without Jimenez and Robert in the lineup, opponents have been able to attack Abreu in a different way, which has made it difficult for the veteran first baseman.
For the Twins, both Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz have found a way to be two of Minnesota’s best hitters this season, despite their climbing age. Cruz boats a .940 OPS, and Dolandson’s supporting an .822 OPS while still playing a quality third base.
Since placing center fielder Byron Buxton on the injury list on June 22 with a fracture in his right wrist, the Twins have a 2-3 record. Replacing Buxton in center has been Max Kepler. Kepler has hit just .202 this season with six home runs with a .697 OPS.
The White Sox had the best record in baseball after completing a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay on June 16, but since they have a 3-7 record and have seen their division lead shrink to just 2.5 games over Cleveland.
Even with all of the injuries, the White Sox should easily win the AL Central, and a nice stretch before the All-Star break could be in the works starting with a series win over the Twins.