It’ll be hard to top the month of May, but the Milwaukee Brewers will try tonight as they look for their 7th straight series win and get their June schedule underway in the south side of Chicago against the White Sox.
The team on Chicago’s south side didn’t expect to compete this year as they continue their massive
tanking rebuilding effort. They’re the worst team in baseball’s worst division, coming into the weekend with a 16-37 record and 12.5 games behind Cleveland, who the Brewers split two games with in May.
The White Sox won’t hit for average and they’ll give up a lot of runs, but if they have done one thing decently well this year, it’s hit home runs. They’ve hit a total of 64 as a team, which ranks 15th in baseball, but they’re only 5 behind the Brewers, whose 69 rank 6th.
They’re surprisingly led in that department by shortstop Tim Anderson, who has 11 homers a third of the way through the season. Matt Davidson also has 11 with an .890 OPS, while Jose Abreu has 9 with a line of .298/.360/.522. Highly touted prospected Yoan Moncada is hitting .242/.323/.433 with 7 home runs in his first full year in the majors at age 23.
Friday - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Chase Anderson vs. Hector Santiago
Satuday - 1:10 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. James Shields
Sunday - 1:10 p.m. CDT
Brent Suter vs. Dylan Covey
Now in his second stint with the White Sox, Santiago is one of those guys who feels like he’s been around forever. He’s been a perfectly fine if unspectacular pitcher during his 8-year career, although he’s developed a problem with giving up home runs over the past couple years. It’s a problem the rest of the league has had as well, but his HR/9 rate jumped to 1.9 last season despite pitching for the Twins at Target Field, and it’s an even 2.0 this year in his first 44.1 innings. He’s largely been pitching out of the bullpen this year for Chicago, but will be making his 6th start in 16 appearances tonight.
Big Game James has been nothing short of a Big Failure since leaving Kansas City following the 2014 season. He signed a huge free agent deal with the San Diego Padres that winter for four guaranteed years and $73 million with a $16 million team option for 2019. The White Sox will certainly decline that option after this year and are only on the hook for about half his salary after trading for him in 2016, but they also gave up Fernando Tatis, Jr. to acquire him and the younger Tatis has developed into one of the top prospects in baseball. Since the deal, Shields has put up a 5.66 ERA for the South Siders, with his only real value coming in soaking up innings every 5 days for a team that has no interest in winning. He’s been one of the least valuable pitchers in baseball during that time, but does come into this weekend with a 4.54 ERA in 69.1 innings this year, his lowest mark since his first year in San Diego.
Covey is a former first round pick of the Brewers, with Doug Melvin and the late Bruce Seid taking him 14th overall out of high school in 2010. The team’s post-draft physical just before signing him revealed Covey had diabetes, and with that life-changing diagnosis, Covey decided to stay close to home and go to college at the University of San Diego rather than begin his professional career. The Brewers got a compensation pick for him in the next year’s draft, which they used to draft Jed Bradley 15th overall. Since then, Covey has gotten his diabetes under control and made his MLB debut last season with the White Sox, but he got hit around for a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings, allowing 20 home runs in that short timeframe. Things have gotten off to a better start this season -- he has a 3.63 ERA in 3 starts, and he hasn’t allowed a home run in 17.1 innings.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference