The Boston Red Sox head to the south side tonight to face off against the Chicago White Sox in a four game series. The Red Sox are coming off their first series sweep of the season and at 7-10 on the season a sweep of the White Sox would vault them over .500. That won’t be easy though. The White Sox are 10-8 and tied with the Detroit Tigersand the Cleveland Indians for first place in the AL Central.
The White Sox own much of their early success to the strength of their pitching staff. They are third the league in ERA right now, behind the Texas Rangers and the OaklandA’s and second in FIP, trailing only the Rangers. Their offense has been powered by a resurgent Adam Dunn and Alex Rios and the always productive Paul Konerko. The team has trouble getting on base, however, with a team OBP of just .311 right now and that will be an issue as they match up against the powerful Boston Red Sox offense.
Game 1 will feature an exciting pitching match up. Felix Doubront, who is coming of a dominate six inning start against the New York Yankeeswhere he allowed just one run on four hits and three walks while striking out seven, will face Phil Humber, who was pretty good in his last start throwing a perfect game against the Seattle Mariners. The righty heavy White Sox will be a challenge for the Red Sox left-hander, but Doubront’s swing and miss stuff could result in a lot of strike outs against the aggressive White Sox hitters. Humber will have a good deal more trouble with the Red Sox lineup than he did againstSeattle. The Mariners have been 36% worst at the plate than the Red Sox and they score more than a run and half less per game.
Game 2 looks like another excellent matchup as Daniel Bard returns to the starting rotation to face lefty John Danks. Bard got his first win in his one relief appearance on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, but he has pitched fairly well as a starter in his two games in the rotation. His biggest weakness has been walks, and he is especially prone to them when he tires. In his last start he walked four hitters in his first six innings and then ran out of steam and issued three walks in the seventh before Bobby Valentine woke up and relieved the first year starter. He still pitched well enough to win in that game, but he was outmatched by Complete Game James Shields who throw eight scoreless frames to win 1-0. He could benefit a great deal from facing the free swinging White Sox and their righty heavy line up. Danks has struggled with the long ball with four home runs in his four starts, so the hot hitting righties like Dustin Pedroia , Mike Aviles and Cody Ross could be the key to the game in the launching pad that is US Cellular.
Game 3 has struggling Red Sox ace Jon Lester matched up against another resurgent White Sox veteran, Jake Peavy. Peavy has been untouchable thus far with a 1.88 ERA in four starts backed by 26 strike outs against just four walks and one home run for a 2.07 FIP. Jon Lester will have to rediscover his best stuff to outduel the red hot Peavy. In his last two starts Lester has struggled with 12 runs allowed and eight walks against just six strike outs. He settled down and pitched well after a rough fourth inning his last time out to rack up seven innings, but he has yet to take over a game with his overpowering strike out abilities.Boston needs him to be their ace again and help them win tough match ups like this one.
Game 4 will probably see Josh Beckett matched up against Gavin Floyd. Beckett has been great since his disastrous first start in Detroit, allowing just six runs in 21 innings and 13 strike outs against five walks. Floyd has been up and down thus far, but his last start was excellent. He allowed just two hits, two walks and one run in 7 1/3 while striking out six, but still took the loss as Tommy Milone did one better with eight shutout innings. With the way these two pitchers are throwing right now, this one is too close to call, but Red Sox fans should be a bit concerned about Beckett’s home run issues here.US Cellular is one of the best home run hitter’s park in the game and Konerko, Rios, and Dunn could all cause problems for Beckett in such cozy confines.
This series is going be a perfect match up of a weak hitter strong pitching team (the White Sox) against a weak pitching offensive powerhouse (Boston). Individual performance, especially from Red Sox starters will likely determine the series winner.