Hector Santiago was a reliever most of the year, but this will be his fourth start of the year and second against the Indians. He packs a 3.69 ERA on the season over 63 ⅓ innings in his first full season but a 4.09 SIERA—he’s been a little lucky, taking advantage of that fielding practice the Sox do every day. He couldn’t get out of the fourth inning last Wednesday against the Tribe, walking four men and giving up three earned runs. It was a hideous game, 12 walks handed out by Sox pitching. But who knows, with how Chris Sale emerged this year, come next September Santiago could be in the Cy Young competition. The Chicago farm system makes no sense.
I’m starting to come around to Corey Kluber. Important, I know, because I make big decisions and have lots of sway in the Indians front office. Anyway, Kluber pitches with guts, and even if he keeps the ball right over the middle of the plate he throws hard. It’s not much and he might not be much of anything down the road but he’s wormed his way into my heart. Even with that 78 ERA+. He’s only started against the White Sox once, and Dayan Viciedo clubbed one into Lake Michigan, so did A.J. Pierzynski. That’s just how Comiskey plays sometimes. He only struck out four, but he lasted seven innings and got the win, so with how the Tribe is hitting the ball and who’s opposing him for Chicago, it’s a decided plus for Cleveland.
Look, aces are dueling! Really, Chris Sale is the White Sox’ best pitcher and Peavy is miles from his Cy Young times, but he’s a great pitcher and with a 3.37 ERA (3.66 SIERA, right in line with his career numbers) he was a great acquisition by Kenny Williams. Shin-Soo Choo hits him hard, logging a 1.135 OPS in 21 plate appearances, so does Asdrubal Cabrera (1.000 OPS in 14 PA’s) and Jason Kipnis has two homers off him. That Kipnis work is partly related to his dominance of his hometown park (he’s from the Chicago suburbs, if you didn’t know). He’s fallen off a bit in the late months of the season and has a 4.42 ERA his last three starts, maybe he’s just a bit old. Heck, he might not even pitch if they get eliminated on Monday. We’ll see though.
As for Masterson, I will keep saying it till I believe it, he’s the ace. Maybe over the winter he’ll nail down that changeup and be the complete pitcher he’s been trying to be all year. In his career he’s only allowed four homers to White Sox hitters, and though Paul Konerko leads all players in plate appearances against Masterson he’s been held in check – a .784 OPS. Of course, Adam Dunn clubs it to the tune of a 1.118 OPS with a homer and two doubles in 27 PA’s. But nothing can restrain the Donkey if he feels like donking it. It’s our last chance to see Masterson this year and even if it hasn’t been pretty this year I still enjoy him. Let’s give him good vibes and get a win.
Gavin Floyd is the kind of pitcher I was used to for Chicago, before Chris Sale and Jake Peavy showed up and ruined it all by being real good. Floyd has held it down though, 4.47 ERA (4.08 SIERA) and generally being pretty mediocre. Remember though, a quality start gives you a 4.50 ERA, so Gavin must be quality. He’s been worth 1.8 fWAR, again, a solidly average pitcher. Against the Tribe he’s suffered against the better hitters, which makes sense. Choo is 8-for-22 with a homer, Cabrera is 6-for-21 with a homer and a double, and Kipnis is 4-for-10 though only a double as an extra base hit. Floyd leads baseball in hit-by-pitches dealt out, so we know he’s a headhunter. Typical Chicagoan.
I’m of two minds about David Huff. Maybe he’s a pretty good pitcher who can be dropped in for a spot start, or maybe he’s a frustrating ruse because every time he gets a small stretch of starts he’s pretty good, and the front office makes him a starter. He then goes and is terrible, mediocre at best. Either way, he shouldn’t be a long term answer to the rotation but in his three recent starts the Indians gave him two wins and he’s got a 3.94 ERA. Pretty much classic Huff. The current crop of Sox batters only have a little experience against David, but Alexei Ramirez is 5-for-10 with two homers, A.J. Pierzynski is 4-for-6 with two homers and Adam Dunn is 2-for-3 with a homer. When the Sox connect against David, it’s going a long way. He’ll give us five innings of solidish ball though. Just as long as he stays away from the rotation next year.
This is it, guys. Last series of the year, and even if it’s been a long, miserable at times slog through the summer, we’ll all miss the team come Thursday. Force yourself to tune in even if it gets ugly, which it won’t because they’re going to sweep these Sox. Baseball man, I love it even when I hate it, even when it’s ugly and even when it makes me cry.