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New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox: Series Preview

With a tough schedule in August, the Yankees have to take advantage and beat up on the post-sell ChiSox.

New York Yankees v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Yankees have endured three consecutive tough opponents in the Orioles, Rays, and Astros as they desperately try to stay in playoff contention. They’re 4.5 games behind the Blue Jays now; October baseball in the Bronx is looking more and more unlikely. Now, New York will begin a nine-game road trip, but they’ll at least get a bit of a breather to start it. The White Sox have been an unmitigated disaster in 2023, as while Tony La Russa certainly wasn’t helping them last year, a new skipper was not the answer to all of their problems.

Pedro Grifol’s ballclub has been terrible from the jump, and even in an AL Central where the leading Twins are barely over .500, they were nine games back by the end of April and after briefly getting to within 3.5 in early June, the bottom completely fell out. Since taking two of three in the Bronx during that smoky series, they’re an MLB-worst 16-32 (yes, even the A’s and Royals have been better). In addition to the small trade that sent reliever Keynan Middleton to the Bronx, GM Rick Hahn sold ace Lucas Giolito and 25-homer threat Jake Burger, as well as pitchers Lance Lynn, Reynaldo López, Joe Kelly, and Kendall Graveman.

In short, this is a very different team than the one the Yankees faced two months ago! The pitchers will still have to contend with the dangerous Luis Robert Jr. and Eloy Jiménez, but this is still a team that the Yankees need to thoroughly beat and ideally sweep if they hope to hang in there with Houston, Toronto, and Seattle in the Wild Card chase.

Monday: Gerrit Cole vs. Dylan Cease (8:10 pm ET)

The best game in the bunch should be the opener, as we get a legitimate pitchers’ duel! Rumors swirled around Cease at the Trade Deadline as well, but Chicago elected to hold onto the 27-year-old rather than accept an offer for a promising starter with two and a half seasons of team control. It is worth noting though that Cease hasn’t been as sharp this year as he was during his Cy Young Award runner-up breakout in 2022. In 23 starts, he has a 4.61 ERA, though three seven-run disasters — including on August 2nd in Texas — dog his numbers. The right-hander does have 144 strikeouts in 121 innings (10.7 K/9) and a 3.75 FIP, so take the ERA with a grain of salt. Cease can absolutely shut down a lineup.

If Cease does blank the Yanks, then at least Aaron Boone will have his ace to fall back on. Cole has fit the definition to a T, and as Estevão will argue later today, he’s the current favorite to capture his first career Cy Young Award. Here’s a short excerpt explaining why:

[Cole] leads the AL in IP (143.1), ERA (2.64), and ERA+ (160), in part thanks to a significant improvement in home run suppression, as his HR/9 sits at 0.9, his lowest number since 2018. The long ball was Cole’s bugaboo in 2022, as he surrendered a league-leading 33 homers in 200.2 innings. This year, he’s at 14 allowed — a marked improvement that has propelled his Cy case.

Neither starter has faced his opponent in 2023.

Tuesday: Clarke Schmidt vs. Touki Toussaint (8:10 pm ET)

From the #AceOff, we move on to the matchup of two players who were once considered among the game’s best pitching prospects. The righty Toussaint was an overall Top-50 guy with the Braves in 2019 before bouncing around to a few different teams. He had a one-start cameo in Cleveland earlier in 2023 and was claimed off waivers by Chicago in June. In nine games and five starts for the White Sox, he has a 3.82 ERA, 4.73 FIP, and 1.221 WHIP. Toussaint threw five scoreless against his brief Guardians teammates on July 28th but Texas got to him for four runs on five hits on August 3rd.

Schmidt wasn’t quite as highly-regarded as Toussaint back in the day, but he was a former first-round pick and Baseball America listed him among their 65 best prospects in both 2020 and 2021. Finally granted an opportunity to regularly start at the big league level in 2023 due in part to injuries, Schmidt has gradually turned himself into a fairly reliable rotation arm. After an ugly first month and a half, he has a 3.23 ERA and 4.13 FIP across his last 13 starts since mid-May. Schmidt did take a loss against Chicago on June 6th though, when he allowed three runs on six hits in six innings. Unlikely hero Seby Zavala took him deep twice, but the catcher just hit the IL with an oblique injury.

Wednesday: TBD vs. Mike Clevinger (8:10pm ET)

As of Sunday night, the Yankees haven’t announced who will take the ball on Wednesday. This would line up to be Luis Severino’s rotation spot, but the righty has put forth such an ugly showing across 13 starts that New York (7.74 ERA, 6.56 FIP, 2.5 HR/9) has said that all options are on the table regarding a possible move to the bullpen. There’s a chance that Domingo Germán’s move to the restricted list and Carlos Rodón’s injury might force the Yankees to start him again though, especially since currently-rostered starting candidate Jhony Brito had to enter in relief of Rodón on Sunday. Triple-A arm Randy Vásquez could be an option; he’s made three starts for the Yanks in 2023.

The righty Clevinger will get the ball for the White Sox. The less said about his personal character the better, but as far as the play on the field goes, he has a 3.72 ERA, 4.74 FIP, and 1.321 FIP in 14 starts. Right biceps inflammation kept him out of action for about six weeks, but he was activated on July 29th, when he matched Toussaint with five scoreless against Cleveland. The Guardians got to their old teammate on August 4th, when Clevinger took the loss with five innings of four-run, eight-hit ball. The Yankees also hung an L on him back on June 8th, as Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney each went yard in a 3-0 victory.