Hello all. It is everybody’s favorite intern, “The Big Homie” Darrin Brown. We have one more sleep until the second place, 16-13 White Sox begin a 3-game series in Kansas City against the third place, 16-14 Royals.
Both teams are entering off a loss, but the Royals have had a rougher stretch, losing their last five games. After being swept in a four-game series against Cleveland, the Royals are back for another home series against the Sox, looking to bounce back after losing in extras against the Reds.
Let us look at how the three games stack up.
Game 1: Rodon vs. Keller
Game 1 features a pitcher who has had an outstanding 2021 campaign in Carlos Rodon and a pitcher who has been anything but exceptional in Brad Keller.
Rodon heads into this game with a sub-1 ERA at 0.72. He is 2nd among White Sox starters this season with a 77 xFIP- (35th among MLB starters) and a 2.82 SIERA (15th among MLB starters), only trailing Michael Kopech and his two great starts. Game 1 will be Rodon’s first start and first appearance against the Royals in 2021.
Our old friend Brad Keller has had a different go of it. Keller enters this game with an 8.06 ERA. Only 23 starting pitchers have had a worse ERA this season. This season has not been a matter of bad luck as Keller is second to last on the team in xFIP- (137) and 3rd to last on the team in SIERA (5.39). In Keller’s one start against the White Sox this year, he only went 3.1 innings before being pulled, giving up four earned runs, including back-to-back home runs from Yoan Moncada and Yermin Mercedes.
Keller will continue to struggle. Rodon will have a solid outing against hitters who have yet to see him this year.
Prediction: White Sox 7, Royals 1.
Game 2: Lynn vs. Lynch
Notice how I said Keller was 2nd to last and 3rd to last among Royals starters in xFIP- and SIERA, respectively? Meet rookie Daniel Lynch.
To be fair to the former Virginia Cavalier, he has only made one start this season. His May 3rd outing against Cleveland saw him go 4.2 innings while giving up three earned runs on four hits and four walks. Nonetheless, that one appearance puts Lynch last on the Royals among starting pitchers in both xFIP- (138) and SIERA (6.77).
In Lance Lynn’s first season with the White Sox, he has been solid. Lynn enters game 2 with a 1.82 ERA and is in 3rd among Sox starters with an 82 xFIP- (47th among MLB starters) and 3rd in SIERA at 3.09 (30th among MLB starters). One of Lynn’s four starts this season came against the Royals. He threw a 111-pitch shutout, striking out 11 Royals while surrendering five hits and no walks.
They cannot all be blowouts, but we will see the Sox offense who enters this series with an MLB 2nd best 112 wRC+ get to Lynch later into the game.
Prediction: White Sox 4, Royals 3.
Game 3: Giolito vs. Minor
Both Lucas Giolito and Mike Minor have had bad luck this season, according to the difference in their ERA and SIERA numbers, but the awful luck bug has hit Giolito harder.
Giolito has the worst ERA in the Sox rotation at 4.99, but his 83 xFIP- and his 3.55 SIERA put him as the #3 starter (excluding Kopech). Giolito has given up at least one home run in his last three starts, including back-to-back starts against the Red Sox and Tigers, where he gave up two bombs. This start will be his first against the Royals in the 2021 season.
Mike Minor has not been terrible, but he has not been good. In his second year with Kansas City, Minor is heading back to the Royals after being with them for a stint in 2017. His 114 xFIP- and his 4.45 SIERA are both 4th among the 7 Royals pitchers who have made starts this year. A 4 inning start on April 11th in a 4-3 Royals win over the White Sox is Minor’s lone appearance this year against Chicago. Minor only threw 85 pitches in those four innings, giving up one earned run on four hits and three walks.
This game is the biggest toss-up of the series. With Minor and Giolito both looking for bounce-back starts, this very well could be the closest game. I have more faith in Giolito having a better performance, though, given his expected and fielding independent stats.
Prediction: White Sox 4, Royals 2.
This series will be exciting to watch as our hatred for the Royals nearly exceeds our love for the White Sox. The Royals should continue their collapse and pile onto that 5-game win streak as their run-differential and team numbers do not reflect their winning record. The numbers back up my statements even though I am an avid Royals hater.
Let us enjoy another road trip and pray to God somebody handed Tony La Russa an MLB rulebook.