On 10/3/21, I laid out what I thought the Astros ALDS roster should be and what I thought it will be here.
I promised some follow-up articles. In this follow-up essay, I will address how the Astros match up vs. the White Sox batters. Click here for the scouting report of how the Astros match up vs. the White Sox pitchers.
First, let’s learn more about the White Sox hitters and their typical batting order.
The White Sox are a good team and have several very good to great hitters. Grandal and Robert are stars and pose the biggest challenge. Even so, Chicago has several other challenging hitters, Abreu had a very good year in 2021. Sheets and Engel are particularly strong vs. RHP. Anderson catalyzes their offense and is a speed threat. Vaughn is a platoon strength vs. LHP.
Chicago platoons Vaughn and Sheets. The top four in their lineup have advantages vs, LHP and the narrative has been spreading that the Astros don’t need multiple LHRP especially with Greinke being stronger vs. LHH than RHH. The portion of their lineup from Jimenez to Sheets is the spot that a strong LHRP would be valuable. I can see using Taylor and Raley both to get these batters out. If facing a LHP, Sheets is likely to be lifted for Vaughn which would be the time to then switch to a RHP. In summary, I don’t find the White Sox lineup to be as RH-centric as I expected. I believe both Raley and Taylor could be valuable against 5-8 in the Chicago lineup.
Dusty should bring Raley in vs Jimenez which to most would appear unusual. Jimenez has reverse splits for his career that are even more amplified in 2021. I don’t expect LaRussa would pull Moncada vs. an LHP. If he does pull Garcia, Dusty should be patient with Raley to get the PH out or pitch around them. The LHP vs Sheets matchup is highly favorable, and the goal should be for that to be the fourth batter that Raley (or Taylor) face. If LaRussa goes to a PH Vaughn or even Hamilton in place of Sheets, then Dusty can counter with one of the RHRP like Stanek. Look for how both manage this chess game and work the matchups.
The White Sox order vs RHP
The White Sox order vs, LHP
The White Sox have good hitters, and the Astros staff needs to be aggressively managed to work the matchups to minimize the effects of the Astros staff platoon splits. For example, Greinke should be used in the early long relief role at the bottom half of the lineup which is more lefty centric and Odorizzi (and/or Javier) should be used vs. the ninth slot and the top 4 in the lineup.
Stats from fangraphs.com.