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Series Preview: White Sox come in for a visit

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MLB: Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles AJosngels
Jose Abreu leads the White Sox offense
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays returned to St. Petersburg after a forgettable three days spent in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently 1 game below .500.

The Chicago White Sox have had a rough few days, too: they head into the series after losing five games in a row. They have struggled this season, currently with a record of 24 - 31.

The team hasn’t made the move official, but Marc Topkin has reported that Jake Faria is being called up to make his first start for the Rays on Wednesday. We are previewing the series assuming that report is correct.

The Matchups:

Tuesday 7:10 PM: Jose Quintana vs Chris Archer

Wednesday 7:10 PM: Mike Pelfrey vs Jake Faria

Thursday 7:10 PM: Derek Holland vs Jake Odorizzi

Jose Quintana has had a rough start to 2017.

After three straight years posting ERAs between 3.20 and 3.36 while throwing 200+ innings Jose Quintana has not had the same results this year. In 2017 he has allowed a 5.60 ERA and 4.30 FIP. Quintana’s strikeouts are at a career high 23.0%, but so are his walks at 8.6%. His FB/HR rate has spiked to 13.0% while allowing a career high 41.6% fly ball rate that is 7.0% higher than his career rate. In his last two starts Quintana has failed to make it out of the fourth allowing fifteen runs in seven total innings. Last season the Rays faced Quintana twice. In each start the Quintana went six innings and allowed five runs total split three and two.

Mike Pelfrey has gotten solid results for the Pale Hose after being released by the Detroit Tigers this spring. Pelfrey has a 3.86 ERA and 4.67 FIP. His strikeout rate is up to 13.9% which would be his highest rate since 2013. He has walked 7.8% of those batters faced which is line with his career 8.0% rate. In his last start Pelfrey held the Red Sox scoreless over five innings. Last year Pelfrey held the Rays scoreless over 6.1 innings in his lone start against them.

Derek Holland has gotten fantastic results. He has posted a 3.43 ERA, but his 5.04 FIP suggests he has been quite fortunate. His strikeouts are up to 19.9%, but his 9.6% walk rate would represent a career high. He has allowed a 13.8% HR/FB rate and a 43.2% fly ball rate would be the highest of his career. The Tigers lit up Holland in his last start for eight runs in 2.1 innings.

The White Sox bullpen has been very effective.

The White Sox have had one of the most effective pens in the league with a 3.45 ERA and 3.52 FIP.

David Robertson has maintained the closer job with a 3.54 ERA and 2.76 FIP. He has picked up eight saves. His strikeouts are up to 34.6%.

Tommy Kahle has been one of the best relievers in baseball this year. Kahle has a 1.19 ERA and 1.33 FIP over 22.2 innings. His strikeout rate is approaching the odds of losing a coinflip at 48.8%.

Anthony Swarzak has been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox out of the pen. The 31 year old has a 2.81 ERA and 2.27 after spending the last two seasons up and down between the majors and AAA with the Indians and Yankees. He’s striking out 28.1% of batters. He has allowed one homer in 25.2 innings.

The White Sox bats combine low OBP with low power.

The White Sox bats have been among the worst at .254/.313/.407 and 92 wRC+. The Mariners and Red Sox are the only teams to hit fewer homers in the AL and their .153 ISO is only ahead of the Mariners, Red Sox, and Royals. The Mariners and Red Sox have OBPs over 20 points higher.

After a rough couple seasons that saw Avisail Garcia as a potential non-tender candidate this past off-season he has really broken out. He leads the team in most offensive categories with a .330/.370/.532 and 142 wRC+. He brings no defensive value so he has to hit and that has finally happened this year.

Jose Abreu continues to be a strong bat with a .279/.335/.479 and 118 wRC+. He shares the team lead with 10 homers with Matt Davidson.

Todd Frazier is batting below .200 with a .195/.305/.396 and 88 wRC+. He’s hitting for power and getting walks, but will need to increase the average some moving forward to be a useful bat.

Somebody has to win these games!

Both teams head into the series after getting crushed in weekend series. The Rays will have to hit lefties as they go up against Quintana and Holland in the series. As is quite often the case, they will need to get early leads to avoid facing a pretty shut down bullpen.

If Jacob Faria does indeed make his MLB debut on Wednesday, at minimum this series will give Rays fans a chance to preview a pitcher likely to be part of the 2018 starting five.