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Series Preview: Mariners (39-37) at White Sox (44-30)

The Mariners avoid the heat and head to Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox.

Chicago White Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It feels like the White Sox have been cursed by the injury bug even worse than the Mariners, losing three of their daily producers in Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, and Nick Madrigal to season-ending or long-term Injured List stints. According to Baseball Prosepctus’s Injured List Ledger, the White Sox have actually been one of MLB’s least-injured teams in raw numbers; they just have the largest amount of star power that’s been affected. The Mariners, on the other hand, haven’t lost as many stars, but are hanging out with the league-worst walking wounded of Toronto, Tampa Bay, and the Padres for the league’s most significant injuries thanks to the haunted sixth starter spot and your run-of-the-mill crummy luck. Just remember, no matter what happens in this series, we win the IL Olympics.

At a Glance

Mariners White Sox
Mariners White Sox
Game 1 Friday, June 25 | 5:10 pm
LHP Yusei Kikuchi LHP Carlos Rodón
38% 62%
Game 2 Saturday, June 26 | 11:10 am
RHP Logan Gilbert RHP Lance Lynn
36% 64%
Game 3 Sunday, June 27 | 11:10 am
LHP Marco Gonzales LHP Dallas Keuchel
43% 57%
*Game odds courtesy of FiveThirtyEight (Explainer)

Team Overview

Overview White Sox Mariners Edge
Overview White Sox Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 106 (5th in AL) 88 (14th in AL) White Sox
Fielding (OAA) -1 (8th) -3 (9th) White Sox
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 84 (1st) 115 (14th) White Sox
Bullpen (FIP-) 84 (1st) 90 (5th) White Sox

Despite the injuries, the White Sox have played extremely well over the first half of the season, sitting atop their division with the best record in the American League, non-AL West edition. Cleveland is nipping at Chicago’s heels, but there’s a big gap between those two teams and the rest of the division thanks to Minnesota’s surprising downward spiral. With Cleveland, trailing the White Sox by just two games, enjoying a soft part of their schedule with back-to-back series against Minnesota and Detroit, the White Sox will look to maintain their lead in the division despite a challenging road trip that saw them swept by the surging Astros last weekend.

White Sox Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Tim Anderson SS R 265 0.376 110 3.4
Brian Goodwin CF L 40 0.348 138 0.3
Yoán Moncada 3B S 291 0.382 129 0.8
José Abreu 1B R 292 0.284 109 -1.1
Yasmani Grandal C S 215 0.174 127 -1.5
Andrew Vaughn LF R 216 0.282 93 -1.0
Yermín Mercedes DH R 250 0.309 103 -1.2
Leury García RF S 215 0.326 79 3.3
Danny Mendick 2B R 106 0.279 81 0.3

Even without Jiménez, Robert, and Madrigal, the White Sox lineup has been fairly potent. They’ve received admirable contributions from their replacements, though clearly not up the level expected from those three stars. The trio of Tim Anderson, Yoán Moncada, and José Abreu have done a lot of the heavy lifting to carry the rest of the offense. Yasmani Grandal probably deserves to be mentioned alongside those three but his offensive contributions are a little harder to parse. His slash line sits at a totally wacky .172/.383/.401; he’s walking in over a quarter of his plate appearances, striking out in another quarter of them, and nearly half of his hits have gone over the fence. He’s really embraced the three-true-outcomes aesthetic of the modern game by simply trying to crush strikes over the fence while avoiding swinging at pitches out of the zone.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

LHP Carlos Rodón

73 2/3 36.6% 7.0% 9.1% 40.0% 1.83 2.38
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 57.3% 95.8 2284 165 134 115
Changeup 15.0% 85.7 1682 111 110 71
Curveball 2.1% 76.2 2229
Slider 25.6% 86.1 2473 106 125 136
Rodón’s curveball does not have a large enough sample size for Stuff+ or pitch arsenal scores.

The Mariners faced Carlos Rodón in his first start of this season. His four-seam fastball averaged 95.4 mph in that start; it’s now averaging 97.2 mph in June. Both marks represented the highest average velocity he’s ever had in his career. After dominating the Mariners across five innings in that opening appearance, he went out and threw a no-hitter in his very next start and has been one of the very best starters in the American League ever since. The offseason work to get into better shape and clean up his mechanics has paid off with all that added velocity. He’s posting career-bests in nearly every single meaningful pitching category and has finally fulfilled all that promise he had as first-round draft pick back in 2014.

RHP Lance Lynn

75 2/3 28.1% 6.9% 9.0% 34.7% 2.14 3.13
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 43.3% 94.1 2425 89 144 106
Sinker 17.4% 92.6 2265 96 114 101
Cutter 31.3% 88.5 2558 121 100 78
Changeup 5.3% 88.5 1830 35
Curveball 2.8% 81.5 2421
Lynn’s changeup and curveball do not have large enough sample sizes for Stuff+ or pitch arsenal scores.

Over the last few years, Lance Lynn has perfected his fastball-heavy approach. He added a cutter to his repertoire back in 2017, the year after his Tommy John surgery. His usage of that pitch has steadily increased each year since, and he’s now throwing it around a third of the time this year. All those extra cutters have come at the expense of his sinker, which has now become a secondary option for Lynn to generate contact on the ground. His entire approach revolves around playing all three fastballs off each other so that the batter can’t guess which way the pitch will break. The whiff rate on his four-seamer is one of the highest in the game and opposing batters have collected a .244 wOBA against his trio of fastballs this year, a career-low mark.

LHP Dallas Keuchel

81 1/3 14.2% 7.5% 15.3% 56.9% 3.98 4.42
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Sinker 36.7% 87.5 1969 90 97 85
Cutter 23.9% 85.2 2177 62 80 95
Changeup 31.9% 79.4 1601 111 89 109
Slider 6.4% 76.9 2324 78
Keuchel’s slider does not have a large enough sample size for pitch arsenal scores.

It’s weird to say that a former Cy Young-winner is the weakest link in the White Sox rotation, but that just speaks to the ridiculous quality of their staff. After his award-winning season back in 2015, Keuchel has settled in as a good, not great starter who relies heavily on contact management. And with such a contact heavy approach, his success is often tied to the quality of the defense behind him and good batted ball luck. His elite groundball rate has slipped a bit in recent seasons as he’s started to move away from his diving sinker and throw his cutter a bit more often. He’s also throwing his excellent changeup far more often since joining the White Sox but those changes to his pitch mix have resulted in the lowest strikeout rates of his career.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 47-28 0.627 -- W-W-W-W-W
Athletics 46-31 0.597 2.0 L-L-W-L-W
Mariners 39-37 0.513 8.5 W-W-W-W-L
Angels 36-38 0.486 10.5 W-W-L-L-L
Rangers 27-48 0.360 20.0 L-W-L-W-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Athletics 46-31 0.597 +1.0 L-L-W-L-W
Red Sox 44-31 0.587 -- W-L-W-L-L
Cleveland 41-31 0.569 1.5 L-W-W-L-W
Yankees 40-34 0.541 3.5 W-W-L-W-W
Blue Jays 38-35 0.521 5.0 W-W-W-W-W
Mariners 39-37 0.513 5.5 W-W-W-W-L

Despite the Mariners’ recent hot stretch, the AL West becomes more of a two-team race every day, with Houston playing some utterly dominant ball lately, winners of their last eleven straight. The A’s have gone just 6-4 over the same stretch but remain just two games back of Houston, and the second-place Athletics actually have a better record than the first-place White Sox. Other than the surprisingly dominant Giants, the top of the AL West has the best record in baseball. Speaking of the Giants, they most recently finished a game with the Angels where Giants fans seemed to outnumber Angels fans in Angel Stadium two to one, Ohtani started and gave up just one run over six innings, the Angels forfeited the DH so Ohtani could hit (he went 0-for-3 with two walks), the game went into the 12th inning tied 1-1, Angels pitcher Griffin Canning played left field, and the Angels wound up losing 9-3. So, just normal stuff. The Mariners remain two games ahead of the Angels, and the Rangers remain in third place in the 2022 Draft Order contest, edging out Pittsburgh but well behind Baltimore and Arizona, the 1927 Yankees of losing.