Reversal of Fortune: Game Preview & Lineups 4/13

Since the end of the 2006 season, the limiting reagent for the White Sox has been their offense. When you factor in the park and league that they play in, the White Sox have had one of the best pitching staffs year-in-year-out for almost a decade at this point. The question ever year seemed to be whether the offense could contribute enough runs to hold up their end of the bargain. Whether or not they could would determine how many wins the White Sox would have. Obviously there have been some variations on that theme, but here are the team's OPS+ and ERA- ranks for the last 7 years (like in real baseball, higher numbers on offense = good, lower numbers on pitching = good):

*Denotes both the only White Sox playoffs appearance in this time period and a season with a 163rd game.

*Denotes both the only White Sox playoffs appearance in this time period and a season with a 163rd game.

So, since 2008, the White Sox have had a pitching staff that ranked roughly in the top 10-15 every single year - even creeping into the Top 5 one year, for a sub-.500 team. By contrast, the offense has fluctuated in alternating years between something sitting around the edge of the Top 10 and then cratering down into the bottom third. In years where they've had offense, their steady pitching staff made them a playoff contender. In years where the offense vanished, they either muddled through to around .500 or worse.

In the first twelve games of 2014 the situation has been quite different. The offense has been destroying the weak opposition they've faced (and have managed to generally scrape by against quality guys like James Shields, or even light up pretty good pitchers like Justin Masterson and Danny Salazar). Meanwhile, the pitching has been poor. It has been a strange reversal so far this season, with the offense as the bright spot and the pitching yielding extreme frustration - we have not really seen a White Sox team behave this way in a long time.

The thing is, the pitching hasn't been bad across the board -- it has been either good or bad on extreme ends of the spectrum. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Daniel Webb, Jake Petricka, and Maikel Cleto have all been good to great from a runs-allowed perspective. Petricka has the worst ERA+ of the bunch at 116, still 16% better than league average. John Danks has managed to be a bit above league average in his first few starts as well.

Then there is the other half of the pitching staff, which has recorded 123 outs while allowing 99 hitters to reach base safely. The result, given how great the offense has been so far, is that depending on who is on the mound, they should either engage in a slugfest with the opposition or blow them out. 

Fortunately, today the White Sox have Jose Quintana on the mound, who is probably their second best starter. Cleto and Petricka should be fresh, having had the day off yesterday, and Lindstrom is probably better than he has shown so far this year. 

And, as always, there is the caveat that this is still super early and almost none of this means anything.

They will be facing Corey Kluber, the Indians' right-hander who gets a lot of strikeouts for a guy who also gives up a ton of hits. It's odd, but the result seems to be something resembling an effective #4 starter. 

Today’s Lineup: 

  1. Adam Eaton - CF
  2. Marcus Semien - 2B
  3. Conor Gillaspie - 3B
  4. Jose Abreu - 1B
  5. Adam Dunn - DH
  6. Dayan Viciedo - RF
  7. Alejandro De Aza - LF
  8. Alexei Ramirez - SS
  9. Tyler Flowers - C

Jose Quintana - SP

Indians Lineup:

  1. Asdrubal Cabrera - SS
  2. Nick Swisher - 1B
  3. Jason Kipnis - 2B
  4. Carlos Santana - C
  5. Ryan Raburn - LF
  6. Michael Brantley - CF
  7. Yan Gomes - C
  8. David Murphy - RF
  9. Mike Aviles - 3B

Corey Kluber - SP

Where to Watch: Today’s game will be broadcast on CSN and SportsTime Ohio.

1:10pm Central start time.