Having swept the Twins, the Boston Red Sox (27-17, second place, 0.5 games behind in the AL East) go to the South Side to take on the Chicago White Sox (19-23, tied for fourth place, 6 games behind in the AL Central) for a three-game series. The Red Sox are 6-4 in their last 10 games but have won their last five games in a row, while the White Sox are 5-5 in their last 10 games and have lost two games.
Dylan Axelrod (against Jon Lester in the opener) is just an average pitcher. While his pitching line in 2013 of 4.27 ERA/4.63 FIP/4.99 xFIP is an improvement over his 2012 line of 5.47 ERA/5.04 FIP/4.72 xFIP, it isn’t much of one. Axelrod’s improvement might be due to a lower BABIP (.275 in 2013, 3.04 in 2012), a lower walk rate (2.53 per nine in 2013, 3.71 in 2012) and an improved home run-to-fly ball ratio (9.1% in 2013, 13.1% in 2012), but his improvements are counteracted by a dramatically decreased strike out ratio (5.05 per nine in 2013, 7.06 in 2012).
Jose Quintana (versus Felix Doubront) is an interesting young pitcher whose peripherals show growth. In his rookie year last year Quintana put up a pitching line of 3.76 ERA/4.23 FIP/4.33 xFIP, and his stats (5.35 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, .299 BABIP, 10.5% HR/FB, 1.35 WHIP) while not stellar in any one area, were solid for a rookie. So far in 2013, Quintana’s pitching line is 3.97 ERA/3.89 FIP/4.11 xFIP (not much of a change) but his peripheral stats have improved (6.75 K/9, 2.58 BB/9, .275 BABIP, 9.6% HR/FB, 1.24 WHIP)> Keep it up, Jose!
Chris Sale (facing Clay Buchholz in the finale) is also improving, and that should scare the American League. In his breakout year last season, Sale put up a line of 3.05 ERA/3.27 FIP/3.24 xFIP, and in 2013 he’s just getting better (2.53 ERA/3.19 FIP/3.29 xFIP). The only thing to watch out for is his low BABIP of .235, but as his batting average against is a stellar .192, it’s not too much of a concern, as aces often have low BABIPs.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
In the last two weeks, the hot hitters for the White Sox were Alex Rios (.396/.429/.717, .481 wOBA, 204 wRC), Hector Gimenez (.400/.400/.700, .472 wOBA. 197 wRC), Dayan Viciedo (.375/.476/.594, .450 wOBA, 183 wRC) and Adam Dunn (.231/.318/.590, .384 wOBA, 138 wRC, 4 homers), while the cold hitters were Tyler Flowers (.222/.317/.250, .256 wOBA, 51 wRC), DeWayne Wise (.200/.259/.240, .229 wOBA, 33 wRC), Paul Konerko (.195/.250/.195, .208 wOBA, 19 wRC), Jeff Keppinger (.200/.234/.222, .207 wOBA, 18 wRC), Tyler Greene (.200/.200/.250, .196 wOBA, 10 wRC) and Casper Wells (.182/.182/.273, .195 wOBA, 10 wRC).
In the bullpen, Jesse Crain (0.00 ERA/1.45 FIP/2.36 xFIP, .167 BABIP), Matt Thornton (0.00 ERA/2.48 FIP/2.88 xFIP, .333 BABIP) and closer Addison Reed (1.80 ERA/1.03 FIP/2.76 xFIP, .286 BABIP) pitched well in the last two weeks, but Matt Lindstrom (5.79 ERA/3.46 FIP/4.69 xFIP, .400 BABIP) and Nate Jones (5.87 ERA/2.90 FIP/3.84 xFIP, .261 BABIP) did not have a good fortnight.
AND NOW FOR A MUSICAL INTERLUDE
2B Gordon Beckham (fracture in left hand, placed on the 15-day DL on April 12, retroactive to April 10), LHP John Danks (recovery from August 2012 left shoulder surgery, placed on the 15-day DL on March 26, retroactive to March 22), RHP Gavin Floyd (UCL, torn flexor muscle in right elbow, placed on the 15-day DL on April 28, transferred to the 60-day DL on May 7), SS Angel Sanchez (lower back strain, placed on the 15-day DL on April 14) and LHP Leyson Septimo (left shoulder strain, placed on the 15-day DL on March 26, retroactive to March 22)
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
Over the last two weeks, Dustin Pedroia (.453/.517/.660, .505 wOBA, 219 wRC, 1.2 WAR in 2 weeks, coolness!), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.355/.429/.581, .434 wOBA, 171 wRC), Stephen Drew (.333/.422/.590, .428 wOBA, 167 wRC) and Daniel Nava (.333/.410/.500, .383 wOBA, 137 wRC) hit very well for the Red Sox, while Jonny Gomes (.138/.250/.276, .238 wOBA, 39 wRC), Jacoby Ellsbury (.157/.259/.216, .225 wOBA, 30 wRC), Pedro Ciriaco (.071/.188/.286, .216 wOBA, 24 wRC), Ryan Lavarnway (.143/.125/.143, .111 wOBA, -47 wRC) and Mike Carp (.000/.091/.000, .063 wOBA, -80 wRC – yikes!) were ice cold.
In the bullpen, Koji Uehara (0.00 ERA/0.03 FIP/1.11 xFIP, .500 BABIP) and Alex Wilson (0.00 ERA/2.63 FIP/4.07 xFIP, .167 BABIP) earned the Blutarsky ERA Award, while Craig Breslow (1.35 ERA/3.03 FIP/4.11 xFIP, .227 BABIP) also pitched well over the last two weeks. Clayton Mortensen (2.70 ERA/7.08 FIP/6.86 xFIP, .183 BABIP, 2.70 K/9, 8.10 BB/9) was extremely lucky to have a low ERA. Jose De La Torre (9.00 ERA/2.53 FIP/3.97 xFIP, .400 BABIP) was unlucky in his two appearances but he will be sent down today to make room for Andrew Bailey.
The White Sox aren’t playing well enough to keep contact with the leaders in the AL Central, but one hot streak could change that.