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Series Preview: Mariners (33-34) vs. White Sox (30-40)

The Mariners host the White Sox for three games this weekend.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners offense might be finally starting to show some signs of life over the last week. They roughed up a very good Marlins pitching staff earlier this week and hit well against the Angels last weekend despite the disappointing results in the win-loss column. The White Sox will always be the bad guys in my head, a disposition ingrained in me thanks to the 1994 classic Angels in the Outfield. They’re in town for a three-game series this weekend.

At a Glance

White Sox Mariners
White Sox Mariners
Game 1 Friday, June 16 | 7:10 pm
RHP Michael Kopech RHP Bryan Woo
40% 60%
Game 2 Saturday, June 17 | 1:10 pm
RHP Lucas Giolito RHP Logan Gilbert
42% 58%
Game 3 Sunday, June 18 | 1:10 pm
RHP Lance Lynn RHP Bryce Miller
42% 58%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview White Sox Mariners Edge
Overview White Sox Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 87 (12th in AL) 98 (9th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) -1 (10th) 11 (1st) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 108 (12th) 88 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 107 (13th) 86 (2nd) Mariners

When the White Sox won the AL Central back in 2021, it seemed like they were poised to command that division for the foreseeable future. They had a young core of players anchoring their lineup with a solid pitching staff and their exit in the Division Series that year seemed like a stepping stone to greater success in the years to come. Instead, injuries, ineffectiveness, and an extremely shallow roster have led to two supremely disappointing seasons in a row. Those young stars who formed the core of their lineup can’t stay on the field consistently and Chicago’s farm system has been completely devoid of talent to provide even replacement-level performance when called on. Even worse, they’ve refused to spend to supplement their core or build organizational depth — Andrew Benintendi’s five-year, $75 million contract this offseason was the largest ever signed by the White Sox in their history — which means they’ve floundered in the weakest division in baseball.

White Sox Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Tim Anderson SS R 214 18.7% 5.1% 0.044 63
Andrew Benintendi LF L 262 14.1% 8.8% 0.073 86
Luis Robert Jr. CF R 280 28.9% 5.4% 0.276 132
Eloy Jiménez DH R 159 25.8% 7.5% 0.192 108
Jake Burger 3B R 179 33.0% 4.5% 0.358 140
Andrew Vaughn 1B R 285 18.2% 8.4% 0.191 113
Yasmani Grandal C S 206 20.4% 7.3% 0.138 106
Gavin Sheets RF L 160 17.5% 10.6% 0.163 85
Elvis Andrus 2B R 178 18.0% 8.4% 0.051 48

When everyone is healthy and performing, the White Sox have the outline of a formidable lineup. Luis Robert Jr. is in the midst of a resurgent season after two injury-plagued years. He isn’t hitting at the same level as his breakout 2021 season, but he’s been Chicago’s best hitter this year and has continued to play outstanding defense in center. Jake Burger’s all-or-nothing approach has been their biggest surprise; his 33% strikeout rate is a big red flag but he hits the ball so hard when he does make contact, he’s able to offset those concerns with raw power. On the more disappointing side of things, Benintendi, their big offseason acquisition, has really struggled this year. He’s yet to hit a ball out of the park and his 86 wRC+ is a career low. Tim Anderson has also failed to hit up to his normal standards, though his 30 point difference between his actual batting average and expected batting average explains a lot.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

MLB: Miami Marlins at Chicago White Sox Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Michael Kopech

73 2/3 27.5% 10.7% 16.9% 34.8% 4.03 5.28
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 62.9% 95.7 121 143 109 0.358
Changeup 6.6% 89.1 79
Curveball 5.7% 80.9 97
Slider 24.7% 85.3 103 80 87 0.327

Michael Kopech had a really rough start to the year. Through his first eight outings, he had a 5.74 ERA that paled in comparison to his ghastly 7.30 FIP. His strikeout and walk rates were trending the wrong direction, he had allowed 12 home runs during that stretch, and he looked thoroughly cooked. Then, on May 19, something clicked in his mechanics and he has turned his season around. Across his last five starts, he’s allowed just six total runs and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a sterling 8.80. He’s leaned even more into his elite fastball and slider during this hot stretch, essentially challenging batters to hit his best stuff.

RHP Lucas Giolito

81 1/3 24.9% 7.4% 11.3% 33.5% 3.54 4.20
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 46.3% 93.0 85 97 94 0.332
Changeup 21.8% 80.6 101 98 150 0.359
Slider 30.4% 83.8 106 106 117 0.264

Lucas Giolito had a really tough season last year thanks to a drop in fastball velocity and some pretty bad luck on batted balls. That led to a bloated ERA despite peripherals that sat well within the range of his career norms. His four-seam velocity has bounced back a bit this year, and he’s enjoyed some better results on balls in play, but his peripherals have taken a hit despite it all. His strikeout rate has fallen to the lowest it’s been since his big breakout in 2019 leading to a flip in fortunes; his ERA is now outpacing his FIP by nearly 70 points.

RHP Lance Lynn

77 1/3 24.4% 8.8% 21.4% 40.4% 6.75 5.44
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 43.6% 92.4 89 145 81 0.364
Sinker 14.2% 91.2 97 95 81 0.386
Cutter 26.4% 88.1 102 113 95 0.339
Changeup 7.2% 84.9 59 73 147 0.364
Curveball 8.3% 81.1 108 109 66 0.303

Lance Lynn’s fastball-heavy approach seems like it’s finally reached the end of its effectiveness. The average velocity on his three different fastballs have fallen to career-lows this year and batters seem to have figured out the tunneling effect his four-seam, sinker, and cutter have thrived on throughout his career. He dabbled with adding a slider to his repertoire last year, but despite some positive results, he’s chosen to leave it by the wayside this season. The result is a career-high ERA and FIP with a strikeout-to-walk ratio that’s at a five-year low.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 42-26 0.618 -- L-L-L-W-L
Astros 39-30 0.565 3.5 W-L-W-W-L
Angels 39-32 0.549 4.5 W-W-W-L-W
Mariners 33-34 0.493 8.5 W-L-W-W-L
Athletics 19-52 0.268 24.5 W-W-W-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 43-25 0.632 +4.5 W-W-W-L-W
Astros 39-30 0.565 -- W-L-W-W-L
Yankees 39-30 0.565 -- L-W-L-W-L
Angels 39-32 0.549 1.0 W-W-W-L-W
Blue Jays 38-32 0.543 1.5 L-W-L-W-L
Red Sox 34-35 0.493 5.0 L-W-L-L-W
Mariners 33-34 0.493 5.0 W-L-W-W-L

The Angels continued their hot streak this week, winning three of four in Texas against the Rangers. That’s brought them, and the Astros, within five games of the division lead. They’ll travel to Kansas City this weekend while the Rangers host the Blue Jays. The Astros won a hard-fought series against the Nationals this week and play host to the extremely fun Reds this weekend.