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Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Chicago White Sox

The Rays were swept in their first two series, and fan confidence is at a real low point right now. The Rays have a pitching advantage in this series, but can the bats turn it around enough to win some game?   

Thursday, 2:10 PM: David Price vs. Edwin Jackson
Friday, 8:10 PM: James Shields vs. John Danks
Saturday, 4:10 PM: Wade Davis vs. Philip Humber
Sunday, 2:10 PM: Jeff Niemann vs. Gavin Floyd

The White Sox are a very strong offensive club - .358 wOBA so far this year, but take that with a grain of salt - and they are led by sluggers Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn. It was originally thought that Dunn would miss most of this series, as he had an emergency appendectomy the other day, but it sounds as though he'll be slotted in the lineup today. While both Dunn and Konerko are in their 30s, they are both still quite powerful hitters that are expected to hit around 30-40 homeruns each this season. Especially hitting in US Cellular Field, which increases homeruns by around 30% over league average, these two are real monsters in the middle of the order.

Konerko and Dunn aren't it, though: the Sox also have other good offensive pieces in Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios, and Gordon Beckham. Quentin will likely never match his 2008 season (36 HRs, .414 wOBA), but he still posted a .356 wOBA last season and slugged 26 homeruns. Rios has had a resurgence since coming to the White Sox in the middle of 2009, and while he probably isn't worth his huge contract, he's still a 3-4 WAR player in centerfield.  And Gordon Beckham disappointed last season after his strong rookie year, but he's still young and posted a .351 wOBA only two seasons ago. This is a team with some serious offensive firepower.

On the pitching front, we know all about Edwin Jackson and his control problems (remember that seven walk no-hitter?), and about John Danks and The Danks Theory. Philip Humber is an interesting name, though, as he's a righty that's pitched primarily in Triple-A or the 'pen over the last few years. He's getting the start in this series because Jake Peavy is still recovering from another shoulder shoulder (this one is the first one of its kind, which is crazy). He's not an overpowering pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, so hopefully the Rays' offense won't be stymied yet again.

The White Sox are a tough opponent, but if the Rays start hitting, I see no reason why they can't take this series from them. The Rays have a pitching advantage, as I'd take David Price and Wade Davis over Jackson and Humber handily, and hopefully the homer-happy ballpark will help get the Rays' offense going.

RJ and Tommy have some great in depth looks at the White Sox over at The Process Report, so check 'em out if you want more. They've got some stuff on the White Sox's hitters and pitchers.