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New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox: Series Preview

The Yankees hit the road for a four-game series in Chicago

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Yankees are back on the road following a brief two-game homestand. They’re in Chicago to face the White Sox for a four-game series. The White Sox took two of three the last time these two teams met back in mid-April, so hopefully the Yankees fare a bit better this time around. Here are the probable matchups:

Game one: J.A. Happ vs. Ivan Nova

Happ was terrible the last time the Yankees and White Sox met. He went four innings and allowed six earned runs, but that was way back in April. His performance has trended towards his career averages since his disastrous start to 2019. His ERA+ is now 100, which makes him league average, a far cry from where he was at a month ago. In his last six starts, he owns a 3.94 ERA in 32 innings, which is admittedly not great, but it’s been good enough to win.

Happ has earned a win in five of his last six starts. Wins certainly aren’t everything, but Yankee starting pitchers haven’t earned many of those lately. Outside of Masahiro Tanaka’s win in game one of Tuesday’s double header, the last non-Happ starting pitcher win came from CC Sabathia back on May 22nd.

Opposite Happ is our old friend, Ivan Nova. He beat the Yankees the last time these two matched up. He went six innings while striking out five and only surrendered one run. Oddly enough, that start was one of Nova’s best on the year. His entire body of work has been pretty dreadful so far. He has a 6.28 ERA and allows 12.2 H/9. Opponents have Hall of Fame-type numbers against him, a .333/.379/.536/.935 slash line.

Game two: CC Sabathia vs. Lucas Giolito

It’s been a typical twilight CC Sabathia year in 2019. The big lefty hasn’t thrown more than six innings and hasn’t eclipsed 100 pitches in any start this season. His walk and strikeout rates have stayed essentially the same since 2016, but his homer rates have climbed quite a bit this year. His 2.4 HR/9 is the worst of his career, but he still has a sub-4 ERA. Sabathia hasn’t been great in his last three starts, so hopefully he can turn things around in game two because the Yankees’ bats are likely going to have a tough time.

The Yankees hammered Lucas Giolito back in May. They tagged him for six runs, four earned over five innings of work, but he’s been much better since. In his nine subsequent starts, he’s thrown 59 innings with a 1.22 ERA and 71 strikeouts. Worse, he’s only allowed two homers in that span. His 3.0 fWAR leads all White Sox pitchers, and it’s not even close.

Game three: TBD (Opener) vs. Reynaldo Lopez

The Yankees are likely to roll with a bullpen game in the third game of this series. Chance Adams and Nestor Cortes Jr. aren’t going to be eligible for a call up this game, so Chad Green and David Hale are likely going to be tasked with getting through the first five innings of this one. Green’s been much better since returning from the minors, and although David Hale has only thrown 14 innings on the season, he has a 2.57 ERA. No complaints here.

Reynaldo Lopez has the ball for the Sox in the third game. The 25-year-old’s first full MLB season in 2018 went quite well. He threw 188.2 innings, kept his ERA below 4, and was above average as far as ERA+ was concerned. However, he hasn’t repeated those results this year. In 75.1 innings, he’s given up a ton of free passes, 4.1 BB/9, and allowed 52 earned runs, which leads Major League Baseball.

Game four: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Odrisamer Despaigne

Yankee fans haven’t quite seen the same Masahiro Tanaka this season. Statistically, there’s almost no change in his numbers from last year to now, but he hasn’t been able to do it in the same way. He hasn’t had the same consistency with his splitter, so he has relied on his fastball and slider a lot more than in previous seasons. I fear for hitters once Tanaka finds his splitter again.

Odrisamer Despaigne has puttered around the bigs since 2014 but hasn’t found much success. The 32-year-old right-hander signed with the White Sox about a month ago, and the team brought him up earlier this week. In his first big league start since last September, Despaigne allowed three runs and struck out two in six innings of work. He throws five pitches -- fastball, slider, cutter, curve, and a changeup -- and uses all but the curveball regularly.