After taking two of three in Detroit, the stage is set for a massive series in Chicago that could determine the fate of the White Sox season.
The Cleveland Guardians come to town riding high after winning eight of their last ten games, including a four-game series victory in Minnesota. Their magic number to clinch the AL Central is 13.
This three-game series will be the final time these teams face each other in 2022. It is the White Sox’s last opportunity to gain some ground on Clevland without needing some outside help. As it currently stands, the White Sox are four games back.
A sweep will bring the White Sox within one game. It would also give them the tiebreaker in the division.
Anything other than a sweep would be costly to the White Sox’s playoff chances. Even if the White Sox take two of three, they will lose the tiebreaker and still be behind by multiple games in the standings.
Nine of the Guardian’s last twelve games of the season are favorable matchups against the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. Meanwhile, the White Sox will face the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres, who are both fighting for their playoff lives. If the Minnesota Twins rally back into the division race.
Sweeping the Guardians presents the White Sox with their most straightforward path to the playoffs. They are further behind in the AL Wild Card standings than they are the Guardians.
The good news for the White Sox is that they have won their last two games against Cleveland. The bad news is that they are just 6-9 against them this season. They have also yet to win a series against them. They got swept in their first three-game set in Cleveland and have spit every series since.
The Guardian’s probable pitchers for the series are Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie, and Shane Bieber.
Civale will take the ball on Tuesday. The right-hander is 2-6 this year with a 5.40 ERA and 75 strikeouts. He presents the White Sox easiest matchup.
Things get much tougher on Wednesday, with McKenzie on the bump. The 25-year-old has electric stuff, and his numbers back it up. He has posted a 3.08 ERA with 167 strikeouts and a 0.97 WHIP.
Finally, the White Sox will take on former Cy Young winner Shane Bieber. Bieber has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the American League. He owns an 11-8 record, along with a 2.83 ERA and 184 strikeouts. The White Sox were able to touch him up for six runs the last time he came to Chicago.
The White Sox will likely counter with Dylan Cease on Tuesday. He would be pitching on six days’ rest after his last outing against Colorado. Lance Lynn is set to take the ball on Wednesday, followed by Johnny Cueto on Thursday. Lynn has lowered his season ERA to 3.99 after reaching the 7.00 mark in June. Cueto missed his last start in Detroit due to flu-like symptoms.