Friday, May 24, 2024
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MLB Preview: Houston Astros (19-18) at Chicago White Sox (13-26)

HOUSTON ASTROS NOTES:

TONIGHT’S GAME: The Astros and White Sox will play the first game of their three-game series in Chicago tonight with a pitching matchup of RHP J.P. France opposite RHP Michael Kopech…France will make his second career Major League start.

VIVE LA FRANCE!: RHP J.P. France made his Major League debut on Thursday against Seattle…he tossed five shutout innings becoming the fourth pitcher in Astros franchise history to toss at least five shutout innings in their Major League debut…he joined RHP Hunter Brown (2022), RHP Jarred Cosart (2013) and LHP Carlos Hernandez (2001) as the only Astros pitchers to record this feat.

ON THE BUMP: The Astros rank third in the Majors in team ERA (3.36), trailing the Rays (2.93) and Twins (3.29)…their starter’s ERA (3.37) ranks third in the AL, while their bullpen ERA (3.34) ranks seventh in the AL.

LATE ATTACK: The Astros offense has come alive late in games this season, producing 69 runs in the 7th inning or later, which ranks third in the Majors trailing only the Dodgers (75) and D-backs (72)…the Astros top two innings, in terms of runs scored this season, have been the 7th (26 runs) and the 8th (22 runs).

WEDNESDAY’S WIN: The Astros and Angels played a highly contested game on Wednesday with Houston topping Los Angeles, 5-4…RHP Cristian Javier 2ER/6IP) was outstanding in his start, recording a season-high 11 strikeouts…SS Jeremy Peña (2×4, 2 RBI), LF Yordan Alvarez (1×4, HR, RBI) and 1B Yainer Diaz (1×4, RBI) contributed offensively for the Astros.

FRAMTASTIC: LHP Framber Valdez tossed a season-high 8.0 innings on Tues. night at LAA…he ranks second in the Majors in innings pitched (53.0)…he also ranks fifth in the AL in ERA (2.38) and sixth in strikeouts (57)…Valdez has been one of the best pitchers in the AL over the last three-plus seasons (2020-23) as he ranks in the top three in the AL over that timespan in wins and ERA.

AL Wins Leaders (2020-23) AL ERA Leaders (2020-23)
Gerrit Cole: 41 Shane Bieber: 2.69
Framber Valdez: 36 Framber Valdez: 2.98
Dylan Cease: 34 Gerrit Cole: 3.16
8,000: DH David Hensley launched a solo home run in the 5th inning of Mon. night’s game off LHP Patrick Sandoval…Hens- ley’s home run was the 8,000th in Astros franchise history.

THE RETURN: 1B José Abreu spent nine years with the White Sox, he was the 2014 AL ROY, a 3-time All-Star (2014, 2018-19), a 3-time Silver Slugger Award recipient (2014, 2018-19) andthe 2020 AL MVP…he batted .292 (1443×4954) with 243 HR, 863 RBI and a .860 OPS during his White Sox career.

LOS ASTROS: AT&T SportsNet will televise 15 Astros games in Spanish this season, with the first Los Astros on AT&T SportsNet presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors broadcast set for Sunday, May 21 when the Astros host the Oakland A’s at Minute Maid Park.

THE INJURY BUG: The Astros have been hampered by injuries, as the club is currently without two members of their starting lineup (2B Jose Altuve and LF Michael Brantley) and three members of their rotation (RHP Luis Garcia, RHP José Urquidy, RHP Lance McCullers Jr.)…also, 2B Mauricio Dubón was re- moved from Tues. night’s game with left hamstring discomfort.

ON THE MEND: 2B Jose Altuve will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple A Sugar Land tonight…Altuve has missed the entire season after being hit by a pitch during the WBC and fracturing his right thumb.

VS. THE WHITE SOX: The Astros went 2-2 against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park to begin the 2023 season…Houston is 44-40 all time against the White Sox.

TRAFFIC: LF Yordan Alvarez has opened his season by reaching base safely in all 31 of his games, which is the franchise record for a start-of-season streak, besting three previous 25-game streaks (last, Alex Bregman in 2020)…it is the longest streak in the Majors this season…going back to last season, Alvarez has reached base safely in a career-long 35 straight games, which is also the 10th longest on-base streak in Astros franchise history.

STUFF OF NIGHTMARES: LF Yordan Alvarez has been at his best in the big moments in his career, especially this season…he’s hitting .520 (13×25) with RISP, .600 (9×15) with RISP and two outs, .667 (4×6) with the bases loaded, and .429 (9×21) in close and late situations…Baseball-Reference has a leverage metric, which lists Alvarez as hitting .600 (12×20) with five homers, 28 RBI and a 2.167 OPS in high leverage situations.

EARLY RANKINGS: LF Yordan Alvarez ranks tied for second in RBI (34), fifth in OPS (.943), sixth in SLG (.558), tied for seventh in home runs (8) and ninth in OBP (.388)…3B Alex Bregman ranks tied for third in walks (24), while RF Kyle Tucker ranks tied for 11th in walks (20).

ROADIE: 3B Alex Bregman is off to a strong start on the road this season, hitting three doubles, one triple and three homers, while posting 12 RBI and an .845 OPS in 18 road games this season…he has 16 walks, compared to just five strikeouts in those 18 road games.

GRINDERS: The Astros have three players that have played in every game this season: 3B Alex Bregman, SS Jeremy Peña and RF Kyle Tucker…Peña and Tucker have made every defensive start at their position, while Peña is the only Astro to play every inning at their position this season.
BEHIND THE DISH: Astros catchers Yainer Diaz and Martín Maldonado have combined to catch 10-of-30 attempting base-stealers for 33%, which ranks third in the Majors…the \rookie Diaz has six catcher caught stealings on the season, which ranks fifth in AL.

UNDER THE RADAR: RHP Phil Maton and RHP Bryan Abreu have been outstanding in the early going this season…Maton has allowed just six hits and two runs in his first 15 appearances (18 IP) with 19 strikeouts…opponents are just 6×59 (.102) vs. him (RHH are 2×27, LHH are 4×34)…Abreu has tallied 31 strikeouts in his 18.1 IP while allowing just three earned runs for a 1.47 ERA, and also posting a .159 opponent average (10×63).

TONIGHT’S ASTROS STARTER: RHP J.P. FRANCE
LAST START – 5/6 AT SEA: made his MLB debut…tossed 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing 3 hits and a walk…struck out 5 and tossed 84 pitches in his first MLB start…left the game in line for the win, but Seattle rallied late to hand the Astros a 7-5 loss.

THE FIRST FRANCE: rookie right-hander made his Major League debut in his start at Seattle…It was his 100th career appearance as a professional.

  • after allowing three of the first four Mariners batters to reach base, he settled in and retired 14 of the 16 batters he faced with 4 K’s.

VS. THE WHITE SOX: France will be making his first appearance against the White Sox.

  • although the righty has never faced the White Sox, he did face C Carlos Pérez in two starts during his time in Single A Fayetteville in 2019…Pérez was held hitless, going 0x3 with 2 popouts.

FANNING FRANCE: has posted huge strikeout numbers in his minor league career, fanning 447 in 362.1 innings pitched…it is the most K’s by a Astros minor league player since he entered the system in 2018.

  • is 5th in K/9 (11.10) among Astros minor league players since 2018 (min 200 IP).

FRANCE’S CAREER: has a career 20-17 with a 3.73 ERA in 99 games (56 starts) in the minors.

  • spent the entire 2022 season at Triple A, going 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA (48ER/110.2IP) in 34 games (15 starts) for Triple A Sugar Land…struck out 136 hitters in his 110.2 innings, while allowing a .233 opponent average…began his season working in the rotation or making multi-inning piggyback appearances…moved to a traditional relief role in late August, finishing his season with 12 consecutive relief appearances of
    2.0-or-fewer innings…posted a 2.31 ERA (3ER/11.2IP) in 9 relief appearances in September.
  • had a breakout season in 2021…was named an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star after going 9-3 with a 3.79 (48ER/114IP) in 25 games (18 starts) between Double A Corpus Christi (8g) and Triple A Sugar Land (17g)…struck out 157 in 114.0 innings pitched, while allowing a .221 opponent average.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX NOTES:

WHITE SOX AT A GLANCE
The Chicago White Sox have lost three of their last four games but won six of 11 as they open a nine-game, 10-day homestand tonight against the defending World Series champion Astros.

RHP Michael Kopech, who is looking to win consecutive starts for the first time, is scheduled to start tonight’s game for Chicago.

Tomorrow night’s game will air nationally on FOX and the FOX Sports app with Jason Benetti and A.J. Pierzynski on the call.

The White Sox went 3-4 on their last trip at Kansas City and Cincinnati … they lost three of four at the Royals, including a 4-3 walkoff defeat yesterday, after winning two of three at the Reds.

Following this weekend’s series vs. Houston and an off day Monday, Chicago will continue the homestand with three games each vs. Cleveland (5/16-18) and Kansas City (5/19-21).

The Sox went 3-4 on their last homestand vs. Tampa Bay (1-3) and Minnesota (2-1) from 4/27-5/4.

TONIGHT’S STORYLINES
The White Sox are looking to win consecutive home series for the first time … they won two of three over Minnesota from 5/2-4.

The Sox have won six of the last 11 games following a 10-game losing streak … fi ve of the wins have come by three runs or less, including two by one run and two on walkoff hits.

Sox starters own a 6.15 ERA (36 ER/52.2 IP) with 13 home runs, a .262 average and 51 strikeouts over the last nine games.

Michael Kopech owns a 5.73 ERA (14 ER/22.0 IP), .253 average, 1.50 WHIP and fi ve homers in his last four starts against Tampa Bay, Toronto, Minnesota and Cincinnati.

The Sox are 34-146 (.233) with RISP over the last 19 contests.

Luis Robert Jr. has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, going 13-34 (.382) with four doubles, three home runs, 10 RBI, fi ve walks, three multi-hit eff orts and a 1.265 OPS.

Andrew Vaughn owns 13 RBI over his last 13 games.

1B José Abreu returns to Guaranteed Rate Field tonight after signing with Houston as a free agent in the off season.

ROSTER MOVES
The White Sox today returned 3B Yoán Moncada from his injury rehab assignment at Class AAA Charlotte and reinstated him from the injured list, optioned INF Lenyn Sosa to Charlotte and outrighted RHP Alexander Colomé to Charlotte.

Moncada, who went 8-14 (.571) with two home runs, four RBI, four walks and fi ve runs during his rehab assignment with the Knights, has been on the IL since 4/11 with lower back soreness.

Moncada has not played since 4/9 at Pittsburgh.

YESTERDAY’S RECAP
Kansas City executed a successful walkoff safety squeeze in the bottom of the ninth inning and recorded a 4-3 win, clinching a four-game series victory.

Reynaldo López entered the game in the ninth and allowed a leadoff walk to Nick Pratto and one-out single to Matt Duff y before Freddy Fermín’s bunt brought home the game-ending run.

The White Sox erased a 3-1 defi cit in the eighth on Luis Robert Jr.’s game-tying, two RBI double.

Mike Clevinger received a ND after allowing three runs on three hits over 6.0 IP … López suff ered his third loss of 2023.

Andrew Benintendi (2-4, 2B, R), Andrew Vaughn (2-3, RBI, R, BB) and Yasmani Grandal (2-2, 2B) recorded multihit eff orts … Grandal left the game with right hamstring tightness

REINFORCEMENTS ON THE MEND
INF Jake Burger (strained left oblique), LHP Garrett Crochet (Tommy John surgery) and RHP Liam Hendriks (treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) currently are on injury rehab assignments with Class AAA Charlotte.

Burger went 0-4 last night in his first rehab game vs. Durham.

Crochet has made five appearances (4 ER/5.0 IP; 6 SO) with Class AA Birmingham and Charlotte.

Hendriks has made four appearances (5 ER/3.3 IP) with Class AAA Charlotte … he announced on 4/20 he is cancer free.

FLIPPING THE SCRIPT?
Chicago has won six of its last 11 games after losing a season-high 10 straight games from 4/19-29.

During the stretch, the Sox won consecutive games (4/30-5/2) for the first time, and earned their first overall series (5/2-4 vs. Minnesota) and road series (5/5-7) wins.

A breakdown of the White Sox over their last 11 games since 4/30 and during their 10-game losing streak:

W-L AVG R R/G HR OBP SLG OPS ERA IP QS ER HR SO
6-5 .265 62 5.6 14 .336 .428 .763 5.16 99.1 4 57 20 107
0-10 .174 25 2.5 8 .250 .297 .547 7.24 51.0 1 41 10 50

WHITE SOX VS. HOUSTON ASTROS
The Sox and Astros split four games to open the season from 3/30-4/2 at Minute Maid Park (all games decided by three runs or less) … Chicago won on Opening Night and the series finale.

The White Sox are hitting .296/.352/.480 with five home runs, own a 4.24 ERA (16 ER/34.0 IP) with one quality start and have been outscored by a 17-16 margin.

Chicago needs two victories to win the season series over Houston for the first time since 2019 (4-3).

Including the postseason, the White Sox are 8-14 vs. the Astros since the start of the 2021 regular season … Houston defeated the White Sox in four games in the 2021 ALDS

The Astros won the 2022 season series, 4-3, taking two of three games in Houston from 6/17-19 and splitting a four-game set at Guaranteed Rate Field from 8/15-18.

The White Sox recorded a sweep in the 2005 World Series.

FAMILIAR FACE
Astros 1B José Abreu spent his first nine MLB seasons with the White Sox before signing with Houston in the off season.

Abreu batted .292/.354/.506 (1,445-4,954) with 303 doubles, 243 home runs, 863 RBI and 697 runs scored in 1,270 games with the Sox … he ranks third in franchise history in home runs and fifth in RBI and extra-base hits (562).

He is a career .293/.360/.510 (701-2,391) hitter with 144 doubles, 120 HRs and 405 RBI at Guaranteed Rate Field (629 G).

Abreu was the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year and the 2020 AL Most Valuable Player.

REST WHEN YOU CAN
The Sox are 6-5 during their current stretch of 29 games in 30 days from 5/2-31 … their only off days in May are 5/1 and 5/15.

The 29-game stretch includes 15 games at home, 14 on the road and 20 vs. the American League Central.

The White Sox play seven consecutive series from 5/5-28 vs. teams one game over, at or below .500 (Cincinnati, Kansas City twice, Houston, Cleveland twice and Detroit).

POSTING PUNCHOUTS
Chicago pitchers lead MLB with 379 strikeouts, 10 ahead of Minnesota (369) … White Sox starters rank second in the major leagues in strikeouts (224), trailing the Twins (240).

LONGBALL LOGISTICS
Chicago has homered in nine of its last 11 games since 4/30 (14 total homers), and hit 17 over its last 14 contests since 4/27.

The White Sox nine-game home run streak from 4/30-5/9 marked their longest since 7/30-8/10/21 (11 straight games).

The Sox have recorded six multihomer eff orts and been held without a home run just three times over the last 14 games.

SOUTHPAW SUCCESS
The White Sox are batting .273/.339/.443 vs. left-handed pitching since the start of the 2019 season … during that span, the Sox lead MLB in average, rank second in on-base percentage, third in OPS (.782) and sixth in slugging percentage.

Tim Anderson owns a .350/.379/.555 (143-409) slash line vs. LHP since 2019, and Hanser Alberto is hitting .346/.366/.493 (172-497) … Anderson and Alberto rank 1-2 in MLB in average vs. left-handers since the start of 2019.

Luis Robert Jr. is a career .352/.415/.614 hitter vs. lefties.

ANDREW, ANDREW … HE’S OUR MAN!
All four of Andrew Vaughn’s home runs this season have tied the game or given Chicago the lead, including a game-ending, three-run shot in the ninth inning on 4/30 vs. Tampa Bay.

Vaughn leads the White Sox with 33 games reaching base (T4th in AL) and 16 contests with a hit and RBI (T5th in AL).

He is 14-30 (.467) with three homers and 26 RBI with RISP … the .467 mark is the sixth-best in MLB.

AS TA GOES, SO GO THE WHITE SOX
The White Sox went 3-15 during Tim Anderson’s 10-day injured list stint from 4/11-5/1 (sprained left knee).

Since the start of the 2020, the Sox are 154-116 when Anderson is in the starting lineup and 68-85 when he does not start.

During that span, the Sox are 126-76 when Anderson records a hit, 73-32 when he records a multihit eff ort, 96-47 when he scores a run and 27-3 when he homers.

Anderson ranks second in MLB since the start of 2019 with 52 three-hit games (Sox are 36-16), trailing Freddie Freeman (60).

Anderson needs three homers to become the fourth player in White Sox history to record 100 homers and 100 stolen bases.

5-Hour Energy

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