The Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants begin a three-game slate on April 3, 2021. The home opening series for the White Sox. Both teams look to walk out of the series with an above .500 record. For the Giants, it has been a rough start. Though only 1-2, a tough series against the Yankees, in which they were held scoreless throughout their two losses, is not the right foot to be starting off a season. As for the 2-2 White Sox, they must be feeling pretty good leaving Houston. Dropping the middle two of the four-game series, they are leaving with a win that, albeit shaky in the ninth inning, looked like a hit parade backed by solid starting pitching. So, how will these two teams match up?
The pitching matchups will likely be Anthony DeSclafani vs. Michael Kopech, Alex Wood vs. Dylan Cease, and Sean Manaea vs. Lance Lynn. The White Sox five-man rotation will bring them to their two best arms in Cease and Lynn, quicker than the Giants, who will have to wait until the next series to see Logan Webb and Alex Cobb take the mound.
The White Sox are performing at a high level offensively, with players like Yasmani Grandal and Yoan Moncada appearing to be bouncing back from a tough last few years, each yielding an OPS of at least 1.250. Oscar Colas has certainly been nice to have around, batting .357 with an RBI, stolen base, and a double. The team as a whole is batting .296. These stats came against the reigning World Series champions, who returned a large majority of their pitching staff. The Sox look to keep the bats hot against the back end of the Giants rotation.
The Giants’ offense tells a different story headed into the series. As a team, they are batting .194 with an OPB of just .282. No player has an OPS breaking 1.000 (Brandon Crawford is closest at .909). They squared off against one of the toughest rotations in the league in the Yankees, and hope facing the 5-man for the Sox might be the opportunity they need to get the juices flowing headed into the season.
Pitching looks to be a little closer. While White Sox starting pitching has been very successful, and Giants starting pitching has been mostly frustrating, the opportunity for the Giants lies in bullpen play. The White Sox bullpen narrowly escaped both their wins, even though the starters left with fairly comfortable leads. Multiple players yield an ERA above 10, and the absence of closer Liam Hendriks is glaringly obvious.
Conversely, the Giants’ bullpen seems to be holding their own. Only Sean Hjelle and Camilo Doval have concerning ERAs, and Hjelle’s is due to allowing two runs across two innings, and Doval allowed one run in one appearance, in which he also got the save. If the Giants are able to work high pitch counts, they could see success against the White Sox shortened bullpen.
As it stands, the White Sox have the edge in this series. We have yet to see how Kopech or DeSclafani perform in 2023. However, the Sox are performing better offensively and at the top of the rotation to this point (granted, all average stats are skewed to the extremes, given its only been a few games), it is their home opening series, and they will have Cease and Lynn pitching the back two games. However, there is still a real chance this experienced Giants team and manager Gabe Kapler are able to play to their strengths and steal a few games in Chicago, like how they stole a game in New York, though I think they’ll only take one and the Sox win the series, leaving them at 4-3 and the Giants 2-4 when it’s all over.