The San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox are touted as two Major League Baseball clubs on the rise, albeit they project to miss the playoffs this season. But these two MLB teams have a lot more in common than the direction of their franchise; they’re mirror images of each other.
The Padres have long been in search of an ace, and right-hander Chris Paddack looks like the dominant pitcher they’ve been devoid of.
Cumulatively, Paddack’s numbers don’t jump off the screen, as he sports a 3.69 ERA. At the same time, he also sports a 1.01 WHIP, has totaled 129 strikeouts, and has an infectious energy on the hill. He keeps runners off the basepaths, throws an overpowering four seamer, and his heater registers in the mid-90s.
After recording the worst ERA among qualified starting pitchers in MLB last season (6.13), as well as a 1.48 WHIP, right-hander Lucas Giolito has undergone an extraordinary turnaround to become Chicago’s ace.
In 26 starts, Giolito has recorded a 3.20 ERA and 1.10 WHIP while totaling 203 strikeouts. He has been a steady force all season, mixes his four seamer and changeup well, and has pitched through the sixth inning in 16 starts. Giolito could be a dark-horse candidate for the American League Cy Young Award.
Veteran First Basemen
Last offseason the Padres signed Eric Hosmer, who was perceived as the best positional free agent on the open market, to an eight-year, $144 million deal. This season he’s playing like the player the Padres signed up for.
Hitting .284 while totaling 20 home runs and 88 RBIs, he has put together a plausible bounce-back season after a yawning debut year with the Padres. Hosmer is a contact hitter. He ropes line drives, can hit for power, and while he’s not an exceptional fielder, his range is an enhancer to his play in the field, as well as that of the Padres infield.
Jose Abreu has been the identity of Chicago’s lineup since his potent 2014 rookie season, and he has put together a remarkable season at the plate in 2019.
Hitting .284 while totaling 28 home runs and 102 RBIs, he has been Chicago’s most productive source of offense. He hits for power, is an extra-base hit machine, and fields his position well. Abreu’s bat remains in the heart of Chicago’s order, and he remains one of the most dangerous hitters and first basemen in MLB.
The Padres have one of the most lethal infields in baseball, both offensively and defensively.
From left-to-right, the Padres infield, when healthy, is Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias, and Eric Hosmer. Machado is a well-rounded hitter adept at playing both third base and shortstop at a high level; Tatis gets on-base at a high rate and has made several slick plays in the hole at shortstop; Urias has struggled at the plate, but he has shown off the potential to be a reliable defensive second baseman; Hosmer is a proven commodity at the plate.
The heart and soul of the White Sox is their infield.
From left-to-right, Chicago’s infield is Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Yolmer Sanchez, and Jose Abreu. Moncada’s career has endured a complete 180, as he’s hitting .295, has totaled 63 RBIs, cut down on the strikeouts, and played swift defense at the hot corner this season; Anderson is hitting a team-best .329 by means of a contact-hitting approach and is becoming the face of the organization; Sanchez is hitting just .259, but he’s a dependable fielder; Abreu is a potent hitter.
Proven Backend Relievers
Teams are always on the hunt for lockdown relievers, and the Padres have one of the best closers in the game in Kirby Yates.
This season has been a continuation of Yates’ breakout 2018 campaign. Sporting a 1.32 ERA and 0.93 WHIP while totaling 89 strikeouts in 54.2 innings pitched, he has been light outs in the ninth inning. Yates finds success by pitching to his strengths, that being utilizing a four seamer and split-fingered fastball.
The White Sox have the veteran — and reliable — Alex Colome finishing off games.
Colome is putting together one of the best seasons of his big-league career in his first season with the White Sox. Sporting a 2.34 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while blowing just one save, he has been a reliable late-inning arm. Colome isn’t a strikeout pitcher; he relies on soft contact. But the right-hander deceives hitters and makes them reach for pitches outside of the zone by heavily relying on a cutter and, on occasion, mixing in a four seamer.
Troublesome Pitching Staffs Outside of Their Aces and Closers
Outside of Paddack and Yates, the Padres have a shaky pitching staff.
Joey Lucchesi has been consistent, but he still labors through at-bats and owns a yawning 4.11 ERA; Eric Lauer owns a troublesome 1.41 WHIP and opponents are hitting .277 against his offerings; Matt Strahm has been an inconsistent force in his split time starting and coming out of the bullpen; rookie Nick Margevicius owns a 6.41 ERA and opponents are hitting .303 against his offerings; rookie Cal Quantrill has been a bright spot, as he has been able to get out of trouble at an efficient rate. Meanwhile, the Padres bullpen went into Thursday 15th in MLB in ERA (4.46) and 17th in opponent batting average (.255).
Giolito turned a corner, and Colome is steady in the ninth inning, but the White Sox have a thin pitching staff, in terms of reliability.
After an encouraging first full season starting on a consistent basis, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez owns a 5.08 ERA and opponents are hitting .273 against his offerings this season; Ivan Nova has been more reliable over the last two months, but overall, he has been a shaky force on the rubber this season; in the 16 appearances he has made, 10 of which have been starts, Dylan Covey has recorded a 6.88 ERA and 1.61 WHIP; in the 10 starts he has made, rookie Dylan Cease has recorded a 6.92 ERA. Meanwhile, Chicago’s bullpen went into Thursday 16th in MLB in ERA (4.47) and opponent batting average (.253) and 30th in strikeouts (408).