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Series Preview: Chicago White Sox @ Seattle Mariners

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Graham's Note: For reasons unknown, this was hiding at the bottom of the page, so it's been bumped.

Seattle: 14-22
White Sox:16-17

GAMES

Game 1: Carlos Silva vs Jose Contreras
Game 2: Jarrod Washburn* vs Javier Vazquez
Game 3: Miguel Batista vs Gavin Floyd

Jose Contreras was a Dave Cameron approved mid-season trade target last year because much of his inflated ERA was due to bad luck. Sure enough, Contreras flourished down the stretch of 2007 and that has extended into the start of 2008. The strikeouts are down but so are the walks and the groundballs have taken a megaleap upwards, cutting his homerun rate in half to date.

Three years of average to below ERAs from 2004-6, including the year in big market New York have cost Vazquez a lot of reputation which he certainly deserves. Make no mistake of it, Vazquez has been the best pitcher in Chicago since he arrived in 2006 and he's gotten incrementally better each year. Always a flyball pitcher, he's been even more extreme thus far in 2008, which if it continues will not allow him to keep his homerun as depressed as it has been thus far. In SafeCo though, he's a prime candidate to shut us down.

Gavin Floyd came mighty close to both a perfect game and a no-hitter over the last few starts. He now has yielded just 20 hits over nearly 40 innings of work, an incredible, completely unsustainable ratio. Meanwhile, he has 19 strikeouts and 18 walks. Kudos to him for finally curtailing his homeruns a bit though down from over two a game to under one per; though he's still a flyball pitcher with mediocre stuff and he plays half his games in one of the most homer friendly parks in baseball so...

Likely Starters:
C A.J. Pierzynski*
1 Paul Konerko
2 Juan Uribe
3 Joe Crede
S Orlando Cabrera
L Carlos Quentin
C Nick Swisher^
R Jermaine Dye
D Jim Thome*

This is a righty-dominated lineup which means Silva might manage to have some success but holy crap is Washburn screwed and well, if the pattern holds, we'll get a good, but wasted, start from Tits.

The Sox have some big time holes in their lineup surrounding some good talent. Curiously, Ozzie Guillen has decided to bat Orlando Cabrera and his sub .300 OBP leadoff and move Nick Swisher and his .345 OBP to the bottom half of the lineup. Oh those managers! The Sox pace the AL in homeruns, but since they play in the American League's better version of Coors, that doesn't mean much. More telling is the ranking in hits (last), average (last) and OBP (5th worst). Outside of Quentin and Swisher, this isn't a promising lineup. It's both bad and old with an average age of 30.6 years.

CONTEXT

Mariner hitters are batting .236 with runners in scoring position going into yesterday's game against a league average of .270. The Mariners overall hit .247 against a league average of .257 so their expected average with runners in scoring position should be around .261, a difference of 25 points or about 7 hits over the course of the season so far. Since those are hits with runners already in scoring position, those 7 hits are somewhere around 10 runs of lost offense.

The team is currently posting a .680 OPS. PrOPS isn't the greatest tool in the world, but it has its merits. According to it, the team OPS should be a touch of 10% better, at .753, a solid number. This offense is playing astoundingly poorly, but we're over-reacting a bit to that. Likewise, nothing in the first month illustrates that we were incredibly off in terms of projecting this team. What has happened is a lot of bad luck and some hurtful injuries.

The problem is, regression isn't going to over-correct to compensate for bad luck. If the Mariners and Angels were roughly equal teams in terms of talent to start the year (which I believed), even if they play that way from here on out, they're not going to gain any ground. The Mariners are going to need to get as lucky as they have been unlucky thus far and vice versa for the Angels. We need something to shake up the luck. I'm going to do my part by heading south and getting even more plastered for these games. Make sure to do your part. We all have to pitch in.

THIS SERIES BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

Quilter's Irish Death
Iron Horse Brewery. Ellensburg, WA

This is labeled a sweet stout, which may dissappoint those looking for a traditional stout. I prefer to think of it more as a dark cream ale. It pours a dark dark brown, but not quite black (departing from the stout) with an ordinary sized head. Caramel, nut and oat were prevelant on the nose, with some darker malts coming through on the taste. Finishes creamy (hence the above) with a full body.