The White Sox welcome back former players A.J. Pierzynski Gordon Beckham and Tyler Flowers this weekend. They face the Atlanta Braves in a three game series to conclude the first half of the season.
The White Sox 5-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday clinched their fifth straight series. It is critical for the White Sox to take no less than two of three against the Braves. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and James Shields will be taking the mound against Atlanta.
This is a critical series for the White Sox for several reasons. They need to keep their momentum going heading into the second half, the Braves are the worst team in Baseball and because Sale, Quintana and Shields will be pitching.
"Former Orioles Manager Earl Weaver once said that in baseball “momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.“"
The quality and depth of the White Sox starting rotation gives them a great chance keep it rolling. Their 4.25 ERA from their starting rotation ranks fourth in the American League.
The most critical part of this series is that the Braves are the worst team in baseball (28-57). They are the only team in MLB with less than 300 runs scored. The Braves have little to no power. They rank last in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS.
Playing in an American League ballpark will add the designated hitter. The Braves don’t have anyone on the bench who can hit, so it won’t make much of a difference.
The White Sox have had extreme peaks and valleys this season. They began the year 23-10, they went 10-26 in their next 33 games and have gone 11-5 since. A series loss to the Braves will deal a blow to getting back into the pennant race after winning five straight series.
The series is critical because with Sale (who would be the A.L. Cy Young Winner if the season ended today), Quintana and Shields pitching there is no excuse for multiple losses. If these three even have their average stuff, the Braves will have problems. They don’t have many MLB hitters in their lineup.
The White Sox will have the upper hand going into the games against the Braves. Baseball can be a funny game and Atlanta could spoil the White Sox fun. As of right now, the White Sox are a confident bunch as they face a rebuilding Braves squad.
The Braves plan to compete somewhere down the line, however that is not this weekend. If things go anywhere near the way they should, the White Sox should win their sixth straight series this weekend.