Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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MLB Preview: Houston Astros (20-19) at Chicago White Sox (14-27)


TODAY’S GAME: The Astros and White Sox will play the final game of their three-game series in Chicago today with a pitching matchup of RHP Hunter Brown opposite RHP Lucas Giolito…today’s game is the final game of a nine-game road trip in which the Astros have gone, 4-4.

ON THE HUNT: RHP Hunter Brown has been arguably the best rookie in the AL this season, as he’s tied with Yankees SS Anthony Volpe (1.1) for the highest WAR among AL rookies… Brown also ranks first in ERA (3.23), tied for first in wins (3) and second in innings (39.0) and strikeouts (39) (min. 20 IP).

ON THE BUMP: The Astros rank fourth in the Majors in team ERA (3.30), trailing the Rays (3.17), Mariners (3.25) and Twins (3.30), while their starter’s ERA (3.31) ranks third in the Majors…the staff has got there by posting strong strikeout numbers while limiting walks…in the American League, the club ranks second in strikeout to walk ratio (3.39), second in walks per 9.0 (2.83) and third in strikeouts per 9.0 (9.58).

LATE ATTACK: The Astros offense has come alive late in games this season, producing 71 runs in the 7th inning or later, which ranks second in the AL, trailing only the Rays (73)…the Astros top two innings, in terms of runs scored this season, have been the 7th (27 runs) and the 8th (22 runs).

VS. THE WHITE SOX: The Astros went 2-2 against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park in what was the Astros first series of the 2023 season…there is some history between these two organizations, including two postseason series, the 2005 World Series, won by the Sox in four games, and the 2021 Division Series, won by the Astros in four games.

THE RETURN: 1B José Abreu is returning to Chicago this weekend, where he spent the first nine years of his Major League career (2014-22)…he was highly decorated in his time in Chicago, being named the 2014 AL ROY, and was a three-time All-Star (2014, 2018-19), a three-time Silver Slugger (2014, 2018-19) and the 2020 AL MVP…he batted .292 (1443×4954) with 243 HR, 863 RBI and a .860 OPS during his White Sox career…Abreu still ranks among White Sox all-time leaders in homers (3rd, 243), slugging (3rd, .506), HBP (3rd, 117), OPS (4th, .860), extra-base hits (5th, 562), RBI (5th, 863) and doubles (6th, 303).

LAST NIGHT’S GAME: The Astros lost to the White Sox last night at Guaranteed Rate Field, 3-1…RHP Brandon Bielak (1ER/5IP) made the start for Houston, but didn’t factor into the decision…SS Jeremy Peña (3×4) and 2B Mauricio Dubón (1×4, RBI) contributed on offense for the Astros.

VIVE LA FRANCE!: RHP J.P. France has been incredible in his first two Major League starts, combing to allow just one earned run in 11.2 innings for a 0.77 ERA…France is just the fourth pitcher in club history to work 5.0-plus innings, allowing one-or-fewer runs in each of his first two Major League starts… the others to do so: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2012), LHP Carlos Hernández (2001) and RHP Manny Hernández.

TRAFFIC:LF Yordan Alvarez has opened his season by reaching base safely in all 33 of his games, which is the franchise record for a start-of-season streak…a few notes on the streak:

  • prior to Alvarez, the previous franchise record start-of-season streak was 25 games, accomplished three times, most recently by 3B Alex Bregman in 2020.
  • the last Major Leaguer with a longer start-of-season streak was SS Odúbel Herrera (40g) for the 2018 Phillies.
  • Alvarez’s on-base streak is the longest in the Majors this season, topping a 30-game streak by SS Xander Bogaerts.
  • going back to last season, Alvarez has reached base safely in a career-long 37 straight games, which is tied for the ninth longest on-base streak in Astros franchise history…the last Astro to post a longer streak was 3B Alex Bregman, who had a 41-game run spanning parts of the 2019-20 seasons.

STUFF OF NIGHTMARES: LF Yordan Alvarez has been at his best in the big moments in his career, especially this season…he’s hitting .481 (13×27) with RISP, .563 (9×16) 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 .522 (12×2) with five homers, 28 RBI and a 1.897 OPS in high leverage situations.

POWER AND PATIENCE: LF Yordan Alvarez ranks third in RBI (35), fifth in SLG (.562), fifth in OPS (.947) and tied for seventh in home runs (9)…3B Alex Bregman ranks tied for third in walks (25).

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 a .793 OPS in 20 road games this season…he has 17 walks, compared to just five strikeouts in those 20 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 is the only Astros to make every defensive start and has played every inning at shortstop this season.

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, OF Chas McCormick has missed time this month with back soreness.

ON THE MEND: 2B Jose Altuve went 0x5 last night in a start at was his second game of his minor league rehab assignment with Triple A Sugar Land…Altuve has missed the entire season after being hit by a pitch during the WBC and fracturing his right thumb.

LOS ASTROS: AT&T SportsNet SW will televise 15 Astros games in Spanish this season, with the first Los Astros on AT&T SportsNet SW, presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, broadcast set for Sunday, May 21…the 2023 Los Astros broadcast team includes Enrique Vasquez, Danny Gonzales and Gene Flores.

BEHIND THE DISH: Astros catchers Yainer Diaz, Martín Maldonado and César Salazar have combined to catch 10-of-30 attempting basestealers for 32.3%, which ranks third in the Majors…the rookie Diaz has six catcher caught stealings on the season, which ranks fifth in AL.

LAST START – 5/8 AT LAA: tossed 4.1 IP and struck out 3 batters while allowing 4 runs on a career-high 9 hits in a 6-4 loss to the Angels on Monday in Anaheim… marked his 2nd straight appearance of 4.1 innings.

  • allowed a solo homer to RF Hunter Renfroe, marking the first homer Brown allowed in his Major League career…prior to this start, had worked 58.2 Major League innings in the regular season and postseason combined.

ABOUT BROWN: rookie right-hander entered the season as the top prospect in the Astros system and one of the top pitching prospects in baseball…was ranked as the No. 28 prospect in baseball in Baseball America’s preseason top 100 rankings…was also rated as the No. 8 RHP prospect in MLB Pipeline’s preseason positional prospect rankings.

  • owns a 5-1 record and a sterling 2.43 ERA (16ER/59.1IP) in his Major League career… also pitched another 3.2 scoreless innings in 3 appearances in the 2022 Postseason.

DIESEL: is averaging 92.0 mph with his slider, which is the hardest slider among all MLB pitchers, directly ahead of Miami’s RHP Sandy Alcantara (90.0 mph)…is averaging 95.8 mph with his fastball, which is 4th-hardest among AL starters.

BROWN’S START: his 2.43 career ERA ranks 3rd in Astros history by a pitcher through his first 14 career apps. (min. 50 IP), trailing only RHP Bo McLaughlin (1.89 in 1976) and RHP Roy Oswalt (2.26 in 2001).

  • started his career 5-0 through his first 12 games (7 starts)…per Elias, was the first Astros pitcher to win their first 5 decisions since RHP Josh James won his first 7 decisions from 2018-19.

THE LEADERBOARDS: ranks inside the top 10 in many categories among AL rookies… is T-1st in wins (3), 2nd in innings (39) and 2nd in strikeouts (39)…is 1 of only 4 qualifying rookie pitchers in the Majors, joining Oakland’s LHP Ken Waldichuck (1-2, 7.02), Arizona’s RHP Ryne Nelson (1-2, 6.20) and Chicago’s RHP Hayden Wesneski (2-2, 5.03).

  • among all AL starters, he ranks 10th in opponent SLG (.331).

SOLID STREAK: made back-to-back starts on April 9 and April 15 in which he recorded at least 7.0 IP without allowing an ER…the last Astros pitcher to do so was LHP Scott Kazmir, who made 2 such starts in a row in 2015 (7/24/15-7/30/15) VS. CWS: will be making his first career appearance against the White Sox.


The Chicago White Sox have lost three of their last four games and four of six as they continue a nine-game, 10-day homestand today with the series finale vs. the Astros.

RHP Lucas Giolito, who has allowed two earned runs or less in five of his last six outings, is scheduled to start today’s game.

Chicago and Houston have split the first two games of the series … the Sox held on for a 3-1 win last night after the Astros took the opener, 5-1, following a 2:10 rain delay.

Following today’s series finale 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 trip at Cincinnati (2-1) and Kansas City (1-3) from 5/5-11 and 3-4 on their last homestand vs. Tampa Bay (1-3) and Minnesota (2-1) from 4/27-5/4.

Chicago is looking to win consecutive home series for the first time this season, and needs one win to clinch a season series victory over Houston for the first time since 2019 (4-3).

White Sox starters have not recorded consecutive quality starts since 4/11-14 (three in a row).

Lucas Giolito is 2-2 with a 2.33 ERA (10 ER/38.2 IP), 0.91 WHIP, .179 (25-140) opp. average, .591 OPS and 41 strikeouts (9.54 per 9.0 IP) over his last six starts (five QS) … he has allowed two earned runs or less five times during the span.

Luis Robert Jr. has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, going 17-41 (.415) with four doubles, five home runs, 13 RBI, five walks, five multi-hit efforts and a 1.388 OPS.

Select players will use custom pink bats today, Mother’s Day, to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer through MLB’s “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative.

Prior to today’s game, the White Sox returned INF Jake Burger from his rehab assignment at Class AAA Charlotte and reinstated him from the injured list, and optioned C Carlos Pérez to Charlotte.

Burger has been on the IL since 5/4 with a strained left oblique.

The White Sox snapped a 1-1 tie with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning in their 3-1 win over Houston.

Yoán Moncada opened the eighth with a double, setting up Luis Robert Jr.’s game-winning RBI single … Seby Zavala extended the lead with a two-out, RBI single off Rafael Montero.

Dylan Cease received a ND despite allowing four hits with two walks and five strikeouts in 6.0 IP … he surrendered one or zero earned runs for a MLB-leading 27th time since the start of 2022.

Kendall Graveman worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his second save of the season.

Robert Jr. homered in the fourth, his third in his last five games, Moncada recorded his first three-hit game since 4/2 at Houston, and Tim Anderson went 3-4 with three singles.

Select players across MLB will use custom pink bats today to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer through the “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative.

The “Louisville Slugger” pink bats are the only brand to feature the MLB Breast Cancer ribbon to help raise awareness for thegoal of the initiative, which is to save lives.

$10 from the sale of each custom pink Louisville Slugger bat used today will be donated to Major League Baseball Charities in support of the fight against breast cancer.

Lucas Giolito is 1-0 with a 1.37 ERA (3 ER/19.2 IP), 0.71 WHIP, 20 strikeouts and one homer allowed in three home starts (3 QS).

He has limited opponents to a .145/.203/.246 (10-69) slashline, allowed one run or less twice and two hits or less twice.

The home starts have come vs. first-place Minnesota and Tampa Bay, and defending National League champion Philadelphia.

Luis Robert Jr. is hitting .415/.510/.878 (17-41) with four doubles, five homers (averaging 424 ft. and 108.6 mph EV), 13 RBI, 13 runs scored, five walks and a 1.388 OPS in 12 May games.

He ranks among MLB May leaders in total bases (1st, 36), home runs (T1st), runs scored (T1st), slugging percentage (2nd), OPS (2nd), hits (2nd), RBI (T2nd), average (2nd), on-base percentage (T3rd) and extra-base hits (T3rd, 9).

By comparison, he hit .213/.254/.407 (23-108) with five homers, 13 RBI and a .662 OPS over 28 games in March/April.

The season series is even at 3-3 with five games decided by three runs or less … the clubs split four games to open the season from 3/30-4/2 at Minute Maid Park.

The White Sox are hitting .281/.328/.452 with seven home runs, own a 3.81 ERA (22 ER/52.0 IP) with two quality starts and have been outscored by a 23-20 margin.

Including the postseason, the White Sox are 9-15 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.

1B José Abreu is playing his first series as a visitor at Guaranteed after signing with Houston this offseason.

The Sox are 7-6 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 six of seven series from 5/5-28 vs. teams below .500 (at Cincinnati, at/vs. Kansas City, vs./at Cleveland and at Detroit).

Chicago pitchers rank second in MLB with 394 strikeouts, trailing Minnesota (395) … White Sox starters rank second in the major leagues in strikeouts (234), trailing the Twins (259).

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 9-24 (.375) with three homers and seven RBI vs. LHP in 2023 and hitting .352/.415/.614 lifetime.

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 16 contests with a hit and RBI, and 33 games reaching base safely.

He is 14-33 (.424) with three homers and 26 RBI with RISP … the .424 mark is the sixth-best in the American League.

The White Sox went 3-15 during Tim Anderson’s 10-day injured list stint (sprained left knee) from 4/11-5/1.

Since the start of the 2020, the Sox are 155-117 when Anderson is in the starting lineup and 68-85 when he does not start.

During that span, the Sox are 127-76 when Anderson records a hit, 74-32 when he records a multi-hit effort, 96-47 when he scores a run and 27-3 when he homers.

Anderson ranks second in MLB since the start of 2019 with 53 three-hit games (Sox are 37-16), 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.

LHP Garrett Crochet (Tommy John surgery in 2022) and RHP Liam Hendriks (treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) currently are on injury rehab assignments with Class AAA Charlotte.

Crochet has made six appearances (5 ER/6.0 IP; 8 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.

Chicago and Cleveland meet 13 times in 2023, including seven games at Guaranteed Rate Field and six at Progressive Field.

The two clubs will play six times over nine days from 5/16-24.

The White Sox lost the 2022 season series, 7-12, going 3-6 at home and 4-6 at Progressive Field.

The Sox hit .223/.273/.357 with 19 homers, owned a 3.99 ERA (75 ER/169.0 IP) and were outscored by a 96-72 margin.

Chicago has lost three straight and five of the last seven at home vs. Cleveland, and is 17-21 overall since the start of 2021.

Is scheduled to make his ninth start of the season, fourth at home and second vs. the Houston Astros.

Has gone 2-2 with a 2.33 ERA (10 ER/38.2 IP), .179 (25-140) opponents average and 41 strikeouts over his last six starts … has tossed 6.0-plus IP in each of the six starts and has allowed two runs or less in five.

Ranks among American League leaders since 4/12 in opponents average (5th, .179), strikeouts (T5th, 41), ERA (7th, 2.33) and WHIP (8th, 0.91).

Opponents are hitting .229 (11-48) against him with RISP and .300 (6-20) with RISP/two outs.

Is 88 strikeouts away from becoming the 12th pitcher in White Sox history with 1,000 (77 strikeouts away from 1,000 in his career).

Finished sixth in the AL Cy Young Award voting in 2019, seventh in 2020 and tied for 11th in 2021.

Threw the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history on 8/25/20 vs. Pittsburgh, walking one with 13 strikeouts.

Was a finalist for a Rawlings(R) Gold Glove and Comeback Player of the Year Awards and was a 2019 AL All-Star.

Won AL Pitcher of the Month honors in May 2019 and AL Player of Week for 8/24-30/20 and 5/27-6/2/19.

Earned his second win of the season on 5/9 at Kansas City, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and nine strikeouts over 6.0 IP … surrendered a solo home run to Vinnie Pasquantino in the first inning … held the Royals scoreless from the second-fifth … Bobby Witt Jr led off the sixth with a triple and Pasquantino drove him in with a single.

Departed the game in the seventh with the White Sox leading, 4-2… threw 93 pitches (62 strikes).

Owned a 64.0 first-strike percentage and 19.4 swinging-strike percentage (18 swing and misses) vs. 25 batters … threw 44 four-seam fastballs (94.3 mph avg; 96.6 mph max), 30 sliders (84.8 avg; 86.4 max) and 19 changeups (82.5 avg; 83.9 max).

Has gone 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA (10 ER/37.2 IP) and .179 (24-134) opponents average over his last six starts at home since 9/4/22 … has allowed three runs or less in each start.

Went 5-7 with a 6.08 ERA (52 ER/77.0 IP), .294 (90- 306) opponents average and 84 strikeouts in 14 home starts last season … his 6.08 ERA was the second-highest among MLB pitchers with at least 70.0 IP at home in 2022.

Threw the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history on 8/25/20 at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates … struck out a career-high tying 13, the most by a Sox in a no-hitter.

Has recorded 14 career starts with 10-plus strikeouts, tied with teammate Dylan Cease for fourth-most in White Sox history … needs one double-digit strikeout game to tie Juan Pizarro for third place.

Recorded consecutive 10-plus strikeout games twice in his career from 8/20-25/20 (two) and 8/16-27/19 (three).

His last double-digit strikeout game came on 5/4/22 at the Cubs (10 SO).

Leads the White Sox and is tied for ninth in the American League with five quality starts this season.

Has tossed 76 quality starts in his career, fifth-most in the American League since 2017.

Has allowed 57 home runs since the start of the 2021 season, the 10th-most in baseball … is averaging 1.32 HR/9.0 IP during that span.

Has surrendered six home runs over his eight starts this season, allowing two on 4/7 at Pittsburgh and 4/23 at Tampa Bay and one on 5/4 vs. Minnesota and 5/9 at Kansas City … has allowed one three-run homer, one two-run and four solo shots.

Allowed a home run in 16 of his 30 starts in 2022 and multiple homers in seven … allowed 10 homers on the road and 14 at home … surrendered 16 home runs in the first half of the season, compared to just eight in the second half.

Is scheduled to make his ninth career start against the Astros and fourth at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Has gone 0-2 with a 11.77 ERA (17 ER/13.0 IP) in his last three starts against Houston, allowing seven-plusruns in two of those starts.

Started Game 2 of the 2021 ALDS in Houston, allowing four runs over 4.1 IP.

Is 1-3 with a 6.59 ERA (30 ER/41.0 IP), .299 (50-167) opponents average and 46 strikeouts over his last eight starts vs. the American League West.

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