The White Sox wrap up their eight game road trip with the team’s first ever trip to Citi Field in New York to take on the Mets. The Sox 3-3 on the trip thus far after losing two of three in Kansas City, but they were able to avoid the sweep with a come from behind win Monday afternoon.
The Mets are 12-16 on the year and are returning home after an abbreviated five game road trip to Miami and Atlanta where they went 2-3.
Tuesday night the White Sox will send Hector Santiago (1-1, 2.29 ERA) to the mound to face the Mets phenom Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.56 ERA).
It’s a tough break for the Sox because Harvey was scheduled to pitch Sunday, but with the rainout on Saturday he was moved back to Tuesday. Harvey was the 7th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of North Carolina and made 10 starts for the Mets last year before earning a spot in the rotation this season. He has been nothing short of brilliant so far.
He won his first four starts before taking no decisions his last two times out but he has pitched well enough to win in all six of his outings. In fact he has allowed one run or less in five of his six starts.
Harvey leads the National League in hits allowed per 9 innings at 4.7, has a WHIP of 0.818 and is striking out 10.3 batters per 9 innings. Needless to say he has been very tough. As you would expect nobody on the White Sox has gotten a look at Harvey yet so this figures to be a tough matchup for them.
Hector Santiago is a pretty good looking young pitcher in his own right. He will be making his second start of the season after stepping into the rotation for the injured Gavin Floyd, who will miss the rest of the season. Santiago’s first start against Texas went pretty well as he allowed just 1 run on 2 hits over 5.1 innings and earned his first win of the season.
Santiago was able to throw 92 pitches, a season high, and hopefully will be able to work a little deeper into games as he gets more starts under his belt. It seems likely that Santiago will stay in the starting rotation, at least until John Danks returns from his rehab stint and possibly beyond that. Many feel that Hector is best suited as a starter and if he performs well there is really no reason to send him back to the bullpen.
The finale of this brief two game series and the road trip will see Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.38 ERA) taking on Jeremy Hefner (0-3, 4.34 ERA).
Like Harvey, Hefner is in his second season in the big leagues with the Mets. Unlike Harvey, Hefner has struggled at times this season. He has made five starts and also a mop up relief appearance for the Mets this year.
In two of his starts he lasted 4 innings or less, and in the other three he went at least 6 innings. His last two starts have been his best allowing 3 runs on 7 hits over 15 innings with 3 walks and 12 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .149 against Hefner over his last two starts. The good news is that Hefner has allowed 7 home runs this year so he is prone to giving up the long ball. Only Tyler Greene (0-for-3, 2 Ks) and Dewayne Wise (0-for-1) have seen Hefner before.
The Sox plan for Jake Peavy to take the mound Wednesday after he was skipped in the rotation his last time around due to back spasms.
There was a concern that Jake might have to go on the DL but after taking a few days off and throwing a side session over the weekend Peavy felt that he was improving enough to avoid the DL and re-join the rotation. That is good news for the Sox who can ill afford another starting pitcher landing on the DL.
Peavy has been solid this year for the Sox, allowing one earned run in three of his five starts. He has issued just six walks all season and continues to strike batters out to the tune of 11 per 9 innings.
This is an important test for Peavy to see how his back really is, especially since his only other start against a National League team this year was in Washington when he was touched up for a season high six runs.
In his career against the Mets Peavy is 5-2 with a 3.48 ERA in 10 starts. In his one start at Citi Field Peavy allowed 3 runs in 5 innings but picked up a win. David Wright (2-for-18, 6 Ks) and Marlon Byrd (3-for-10) have the most at bats of any current Met against Peavy and John Buck (3-for-6, 2 HRs) and Daniel Murphy (1-for-2, double) have had some success in limited at bats.
Keys to the Series
Interleague Issues: Traditionally the White Sox have been one of the best teams in baseball during Interleague play, however since the start of last season the Sox are now 9-12 against the National League and 5-7 in National League ballparks.
In their lone Interleague matchup this season the Sox were swept by the Nationals and were outscored 20 to 13 in three games. Obviously the Nationals are a better team than the Mets so the Sox should be able to perform better, but without a DH the Sox will have to either sacrifice one of their big boppers in the lineup or give up something on defense. Considering the Sox haven’t been very good at either all season, this is not an ideal situation.
Look for the always adventurous Adam Dunn in the outfield at some point over the next couple days.
Meet the Mets: As mentioned earlier this is the Sox first trip to City Field and only the second time the teams have met in Interleague play. The first meeting came all the way back in 2002 when the Sox took two out of three at New Comiskey Park.
The winning pitchers for the Sox in that series were Todd Ritchie and Rocky Biddle and current Sox Third Base Coach Joe McEwing played in all three games for the Mets. Needless to say there will be a lot of different faces performing in this series.
The Sox have had a tendency to struggle against teams and especially pitchers that they haven’t seen before. This is not a good Mets team so there shouldn’t be that much of an issue.
Successful Trip: The Sox have a chance to have a winning road trip if they can sweep the Mets. After taking two of three in Texas the Sox dropped two of three in Kansas City when they really should have taken the series. If they can find a way to score some runs against Matt Harvey they will have a very good chance of sweeping the two games set and coming home off a winning road trip.
I think this is an important mini-series for the Sox to get them going in the right direction before they come back home to play the Angels over the weekend.
I am going to say this probably looks like a split in the Big Apple. The Sox haven’t proven that they can get on a roll and while the Mets are not a good team, Matt Harvey is a good pitcher.
I expect the Sox to struggle with him and probably drop a close one Tuesday before faring a little better on Wednesday against Hefner. I would love to be proven wrong but I haven’t seen anything to make me think that this team is capable of getting on a roll.
They blew the game Sunday in Kansas City and won in spite of themselves on Monday in the make-up game. The only thing that seems to be consistent with this team is their ability to find ways to lose. Until they show me something else, I’m not going to be very confident about their chances against any team.