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  1. Chicago White Sox

    7-23 GT: Sox @ Brewers (7:10pm)

    Alright boys, the Sox have a huge series in Milwaukee this weekend as it could be a preview of this year’s World Series. Both teams are starting their top three arms and all these guys are currently ranked in the top 21 in terms of fWAR. These six guys will make up the top two rotations come October and our offense is really going to be put to the test these next handful of days. Today’s matchup is arguably each team’s #3 based on results with Lucas Giolito (8-6, 3.66 xFIP, 2.3 fWAR) facing Freddy Peralta (7-3, 3.70 xFIP, 2.4 fWAR), but that’s understating just how talented these two dudes are. Peralta enters today with the 6th highest K/9 amongst starters at 12.40, which has helped him put up a 95th percentile xwOBA. Freddy doesn’t have overwhelming stuff velocity wise, but his 4 seamer has gotten a tremendous 31% whiff rate this year due to a mix of plus spin & deception. However, his real weapon is a slider he introduced this year that he’s thrown 27% of the time with a 45% whiff rate. This pitch in particular is going to give our right-handed bats real problems today. Beyond those two pitches, he also throws a curveball & changeup that are primarily used against lefties. Both are effective pitches with ~30% whiff rates and it’s remarkable how Freddy has been able to grow from a two pitch pitcher who relied heavily on his fastball into a legit starting pitcher with a diverse arsenal. As the appetizer of the series, he will not be fun. While Peralta has made significant strides this year, Lucas has definitely underwhelmed to some extent. His core numbers are mostly down, with a decreasing K rate (down 1.0 to 1.5 per 9) and rising HR rate (up 0.3 to 0.5 per 9) being the core of his problems. From a fastball perspective, his velocity has been very similar to the past two years, sitting right around 94 MPH on average. And despite Balta’s spidertack theory, the spin rate on his 4 seamer hasn’t dropped that significantly (down ~2% in his last start) and his carry remains very strong. To me, I think the problem is primarily location and the fact that people are starting to catch onto his change-up heavy repertoire a bit. He’s generating less whiffs on all three of his main pitches, but only the 4 seamer is seeing a significant up-tick in damage vs. prior year, with most of it coming against righties. Lucas needs to more consistently hit his spots above the zone with the fastball or find a way to wipe out guys more frequently with the slider down & out as both pitches are catching a bit more of the zone this year. The good news for us is that Milwaukee doesn’t have a great offense, ranking 22nd overall in terms of wRC+ at 89. For comparison, we are 2nd overall at 112 despite all our injuries. With Yelich underperforming, the offense has been carried by former White Sox catcher Omar Narvaez (126 wRC+) and mid-season addition Willy Adames (153 wRC+). This is simply not a lineup worth fearing and Giolito has held their hitters to a .565 OPS over 37 plate appearances (SSS admittedly). The Sox should have a slight edge today, but it will be a battle and finding a way to start both Goodwin & Sheets in the OF would make a ton of sense given how much better Peralta is vs. righties. Let’s fucking go!