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Series #6: Athletics vs White Sox - The Best Things in Life are Free

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MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

White Sox Current Record: 4-8, third place in the AL Central

Possible Lineup:

2B- Yoan Moncada

RF- Avisail Garcia

1B- Jose Abreu

DH- Matt Davidson

LF- Nicky Delmonico

3B- Yolmer Sanchez

SS- Tim Anderson

C- Omar Narvaez

CF- Adam Engel

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Reynaldo Lopez

Miguel Gonzalez

Carson Fulmer

Recent Bullpen Usage:

Every White Sox game from Friday through Sunday was cancelled due to inclement weather, so while everyone in the bullpen will assuredly be well rested, they may also be rather rusty.

Hottest Hitter(s):

Roughly half of this raw lineup, with lots of potential booms and busts, has been producing in the White Sox’ rain-shortened season. Matt Davidson hit three home runs on opening day and has continued to mash as a DH. Despite hitting for just a .211 average, Davidson’s OPS Is 1.007 thanks in large part to maintaining a strong walk rate while slugging .632. Another standout in the lineup is Tim Anderson, who has hit for decent power so far this year with three long balls.

Coldest Hitter(s):

For all the excitement and hype surrounding the White Sox’ prospects making their debuts this year, it is important to remember that the season is young, as are the players, and those players will need time to adjust to the league and take concerted steps forward at whatever pace necessary. Yoan Moncada and Adam Engel each are failing to hit over the Mendoza line, with lots of strikeouts and almost no power to speak of. They each need time to improve, but right now things still look pretty ugly for them, especially with Moncada hitting at the top of the order.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

In the rotation, James Shields has been ok at run prevention, but he has only struck out seven batters in seventeen-plus innings pitched. Reynaldo Lopez is looking as if he had made some major improvements over the offseason after producing middling results over parts of the previous two years. Currently, the righty has a nice 0.69 ERA and .846 WHIP, and has only given up four hits in thirteen innings pitched. The middle innings contingent of the bullpen has also been strong on the season, which has really helped out the inexperienced and ineffective starting staff.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

While never the biggest strikeout guy, Lucas Giolito currently is walking three batters for every two he strikes out and has an ERA up and over 5.00, and with the exception of Lopez, the rotation only goes downhill after Giolito. Closer Joakim Soria has also had a rocky start to the year, and his grasp on the role of closer may already be tenuous, as Nate Jones looks capable of taking full control of the position.

Key Injuries:

The White Sox have stayed fairly healthy so far this year, though Carlos Rodon is shelved with a shoulder issue until June at the earliest and is on the 60-day DL. Catcher Welington Castillo has been out with a knee issue, but should return to the lineup soon.

* * *

The up and down road trip ended on a high note for the A’s, as the franchise’s arch-nemesis King Felix was felled thanks to more excellent hitting from Jed Lowrie and more dominant pitching from Sean Manaea. The return home means a couple of things: more consistently competitive baseball and the tired discussion surrounding the team’s attendance. However, with Tuesday’s game being free to attend, there will (hopefully) be at least one game in a packed full of A’s fans. If the A’s start to win with more regularity at home, the attendance issues will become a non-issue.

The White Sox haven’t gotten a chance to play much, recently, as the final three games of their four game series with the Twins were delayed due to snow and other inclement weather, though how the extra time off will affect the team is yet to be seen. Like the A’s, the White Sox are in a bridge year this season, playing their top prospects and seeing who sinks and who swims. While Chicago’s prospects have more national name recognition than the A’s guys, they are also still further away from playing consistent competitive ball than Oakland.

Game #17: Monday, April 16, 7:05 - NBCSCA, NBCSCH, MLB.tv

Daniel Mengden vs Reynaldo Lopez

Mengden appears to thrive when his competition has never seen him before, and only Yoan Moncada has ever faced Mengden in the past. This start is a perfect opportunity for Mengden to have a good start with good results, as opposed to previous starts, which have been pretty good, but with poor results. Opposing Mengden is Chicago’s lone strong starter on the roster, Lopez, and with his ability to miss bats, the A’s all-or-nothing lineup will have their work cut out for them.

Game #18: Tuesday, April 17, 7:05 - NBCSCA, WGN, MLB.tv

Trevor Cahill (probably) vs Miguel Gonzalez

This game will be played on the 50th anniversary of the first baseball game ever played at Rickey Henderson Field, and in celebration the team is letting fans park and attend the game for free. In front of what will certainly be a packed house, presumably Trevor Cahill will get the call from Triple-A and take over as the team’s fourth starter. Cahill has still struggled a bit with walking batters as he has been building up strength in Nashville, but by all means looks ready to make his triumphant return to the team that drafted him and with which he had his best season to date. Miguel Gonzalez has given up as many runs as innings pitched, as he has not looked right to start the year. It would do wonders for future attendance if the A’s continued to hit Gonzalez hard in front of 50000+ fans.

Game #19: Wednesday, April 18, 12:35 - NBCSCA, NBCSCH, MLB.tv

Andrew Triggs vs Carson Fulmer

Triggs still isn’t going quite deep enough into games, but has been better than everyone but Sean Manaea at run prevention on the starting staff, which ultimately is more than what team’s typically get from their fifth starter. With an offday on Thursday, the bullpen can be maxed out to get the team to the end of the game anyhow. Carson Fulmer has good stuff, but struggles to control it, meaning he is plenty capable of getting into and out of trouble.

The two teams in this series are fairly evenly matched, with very similar strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball. However, with planned celebrations during the series, enthusiastic home crowds, and probably a slight edge in both starting and relief pitching, the A’s should have the edge this series. It is the perfect time for the A’s to win their first series of the year.