Home Series 6 Preview: Cubs vs. White Sox

 

Abreu

(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The White Sox had a surprisingly solid 2012 campaign, but they faltered down the stretch and then lost a miserable 99 games last season. While a rebuild was clearly in order, GM Rick Hahn appears to have taken a different route from Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and company. The Cubs have stocked up on prospects of all levels—from Low-A to nearly ready for the bigs. Hahn, on the other hand, has focused primarily on more mature talent. Trading for Avisail Garcia (since lost for the season), Adam Eaton (who will miss the Cubs series with a strained hamstring) and Matt Davidson (who started the season in Triple-A), and spending big money on Cuban star Jose Abreu demonstrated that while the White Sox are going with a youth movement, they want to be sure those kids are contributing right from the start. Injuries are currently the issue for the South Siders, with seven projected players in the Opening Day roster on the disabled list for a variety of reasons.

PITCHING
(5.2 RA/G, 14th in AL)

Ignore Chris Sale’s 11-14 record in 2013—he was undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in baseball. The lefty established himself as a true ace and leads an intriguing group of starters, though he is currently serving a precautionary stint on the DL for left forearm issues. Behind Sale is Jose Quintana, who came out of nowhere to have a very solid 2012 campaign. While many believed that was the best Quintana had to offer, the crafty lefty took another step forward in 2013, giving the South Siders 200 innings and a 3.51 ERA. The questions begin after that, as rookie Scott Carroll, veteran John Danks and right-hander Andre Rienzo fill out the rotation. The bullpen once again features numerous power arms, but gone is closer Addison Reed. Matt Lindstrom has had the first crack at the job with Daniel Webb and Maikel Cleto serving as setup men.

HITTING
(5.1 RS/G, 3rd in AL)

Runs were at a premium on the South Side last season, but an infusion of youth has helped the White Sox reverse that trend. After a rough 2013, veteran Paul Konerko remains on the roster, but in a limited role. Abreu has been the centerpiece of the offense and one of the most talked about stories in baseball thus far. Previous questions about his bat speed have ceased as he continues to hit all kinds of pitching hard. Earlier today, he was named the Player of the Month for April. Eaton’s trip to the DL puts a slight wrench in the top-of-the-order plans, as he’d already proven pesky in the leadoff spot. He served as a lynch pin, getting on base at a high rate to set the table for sluggers Abreu and Adam Dunn—who’s probably having his finest season since coming over as a free agent in 2011. But the offense suffered its biggest blow in mid-April when they lost Garcia for the season to a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The 22-year-old sustained the injury trying to make a diving catch.

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