The White Sox will hit the road this weekend after a 3-6 homestand that included a five game losing streak and a sweep at the hands of the Indians. The Sox will head to Tampa to take on the Rays in the first series of a lengthy homestand for Tampa. The two teams split a four game series in Chicago earlier in the season.
The series kicks off Friday night with Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.57 ERA) facing off against Jeremy Hellickson (7-3, 4.90 ERA).
The former Rookie of the Year Hellickson is having a good season in terms of wins and losses but is sporting an unusually high ERA for a pitcher of his caliber. It has been a very up and down year so far for Hellickson who has had seven starts where he allows two runs or less and has six starts where he has allowed five runs or more. He faced the White Sox back in April and it was one of the bad starts as the Sox scored 5 runs in 6 innings and handed Hellickson the loss.
Jeremy has lost both of the starts he has made against the Sox in his career and has a 5.40 ERA against them. Alexei Ramirez (3-for-6, double), Alex Rios (2-for-4, HR) and Gordon Beckham (2-for-3) have had some success in limited at bats against Hellickson.
Axelrod pitched better the last time out against Cleveland but was once again victimized by the home runs. He battled through 6 innings and didn’t factor in the decision. It was an improvement on his last few starts but it was the third time in the last four starts that he allowed multiple home runs.
Axe pitched against the Rays back in April and went 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits (2 HRs), walked one and struck out three batters. He did not get a decision in that game.
In two appearances (1 start) he is 0-0 with a 5.87 ERA against the Rays and has given up 3 homers to Rays batters in just 7.2 innings. Matt Joyce is responsible for two of those homers. Kelly Johnson and Jose Lobaton also have homered off Axelrod.
Saturday night will be a matchup of young, talented Southpaws as Chris Sale (5-7, 2.79 ERA) goes against Matt Moore (11-3, 3.65 ERA).
Moore has been very solid this season for the Rays with the exception of a rough patch at the start of June. In nine of Moore’s 17 starts he has allowed one run or less. One of those starts was against the Sox back in April when he held the Sox to 1 run on 3 hits over 6 innings.
If Moore does have a weakness it is the base on balls. He leads the league with 51 free passes, and walks 4.9 batters per 9 innings. The fact that he is striking out almost 9 batters per 9 innings helps make up for the walks. In three starts against the White Sox Moore is 2-1 with a very good 1.47 ERA.
He has also kept the Sox off base will just a 0.655 WHIP. Adam Dunn is 2-for-7 (.286) against Moore and both of his hits left the ballpark.
Chris Sale’s luckless month of June is now over. Hopefully July will bring some wins back to the Sox ace who was 0-5 in six starts in June with a 3.19 ERA. He struck out 53 batters in 42.1 innings against just 9 walks. He pitched well more often than not and didn’t deserve his fate. He has gotten some of the lowest run support in baseball at just 2.75 runs per game. Sale beat the Rays back in April tossing 7 strong innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits with 7 strikeouts, although he did issue a season high 4 walks.
Lifetime against Tampa Bay Sale is 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 5 games (3 starts). Ben Zobrist (4-for-8, double) and Jose Lobaton (3-for-4, HR) have had the most success against Sale of any of the Rays hitters.
The series wraps up on Sunday with John Danks (2-5, 4.38 ERA) taking on the reigning Cy Young winner David Price (2-4, 4.65 ERA).
Price will be making his second start since returning from the DL. His first start back was vintage Price as he tossed 7 shutout innings against the Astros. Price struggled early on this season and the triceps injury may have been the reason why. With Price healthy, the Rays rotation gets much stronger. Price beat the Sox back in April when he allowed 3 runs on 6 hits over 7 innings. He also struck out 9 and walked two in that start. Lifetime against the Sox Price is 3-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 7 starts.
Alex Rios (.474, 2 HRs) has fared the best of the Sox hitters while Gordon Beckham (.056) has really struggled against Price.
Danks is coming off his first win in almost a month with a very nice performance against the Orioles. Danks went 7 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. His last two outings have been pretty good so maybe things are starting to turn around for Danks, who will be making his 9th start of the year on Sunday.
He wasn’t back with the club the last time the Sox played the Rays and is 5-3 with a 3.90 ERA against Tampa in his career. Luke Scott (.294, 2 HRs) and Sean Rodriguez (.500, double, 2 triples) give Danks the most trouble.
Keys to the Series
At the 'Trop'
The Rays have been very good at home this year with a 25-18 record. They have a higher team batting average at home and although their team ERA is slightly higher at home, their starters have done better in home games. The on the other hand, have been awful on the road, with a 15-28 record.
Their poor road performance is one of the many reasons they are at the bottom of the AL Central this year.
With a series of injuries and demotions the White Sox will be tossing out some new faces this weekend with Josh Phegley and Blake Tekotte being the most recent call ups.
The new faces might not all be future fixtures on the White Sox but a few of them might be. The Sox will get a chance to see what these guys can do at the big league level over the next few weeks and months. Lord knows they can’t be much worse than the group they are replacing.
This is not a good matchup for the Sox with the Rays throwing three of their big guns to the mound in the series. I would think that Sale would eventually have to get a win but that doesn’t really seem to be the case after the last month. I think the Sox could be looking at another sweep and will probably be lucky if they can win one of these games.