The Blue Jays continue their little midwest road swing tonight as they kick off a series with the Chicago White Sox. Since we last saw the Sox, they've lost a lot more games and still sit in last place in the American League Central with a record of 36-43. Their season is as well as finished and it looks like they'll be sellers at the deadline, including a potential trade with the Blue Jays featuring Jeff Samardzija. In terms of hitting, the team is still being carried by Jose Abreu with not much production by anyone else. Melky Cabrera continues to perform poorly, slashing a line of .259/.299/.330 with three home runs, so that's unfortunate for the South Siders. On the mound the team actually has a solid rotation, with the aforementioned Samardzija as well as Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Carlos Rodon all pitching quite well. Every single starter is underperforming their FIP which certainly makes things difficult, while John Danks is also still bad... Interestingly enough, 80% of the rotation throws left-handed which must probably doesn't happen very often in the major leagues.
The Blue Jays will face off against Sale, Quintana, Danks, and Samardzija during the four-game set which is quite the steep task for the squad although they are luck to avoid Rodon. Today's matchup sees Sale take on White Sox legend Mark Buehrle. Sale has been his usual dynamite self, currently sitting at an ERA of 2.87 and a FIP of 2.09 which is tops in the American League. The lefty will surely be selected to the All-Star Game at some point today which will add another storyline to the contest this evening.
The southpaw has seen his FIP drop this season due to a ridiculous increase in his strikeout rate along with a further drop in his walk rate. The Florida native is now striking out 34.6% of hitters and only walking 5.4%, which is some of the most impressive peripherals you'll find in baseball during any given season. At this point, you'd have to think the lefty is the favourite for the AL Cy Young although he's not getting the useless wins that the writers who vote value so much.
This season, Sale has decreased the usage of his changeup and thrown the slider much more in its place. During his six starts in June, the southpaw threw his slider almost the same amount as his changeup which hasn't happened very often recently.
Part of the reason this has occurred is because Sale has started throwing a more strict fastball and slider combination against same-handed hitters than he used to. Regardless of the pitch mix, all three of his pitches are filthy and can make hitters look absolutely silly (he's had double digit strikeouts in his last eight games) so tonight might be a rough one for the Blue Jays.
If any lineup in the league will be able to crack Chris Sale it would be this one.
- Jose Reyes SS
- Josh Donaldson 3B
- Jose Bautista RF
- Edwin Encarnacion DH
- Danny Valencia LF
- Russell Martin C
- Chris Colabello 1B
- Kevin Pillar CF
- Devon Travis 2B
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