The Philadelphia Phillies are on an extremely short (and unusual) five game road trip. The “Good Guys” are coming off a 5-4 home-stand against three National League Wild Card contenders. Pete Mackanin and his boys were hoping to do more damage in the nine games, but the Dodgers and Cardinals proved to be too experienced and talented for the youthful Phils.
Now, they take the act on the road for a two game series with the Chicago White Sox. After a hot start, the Sox have struggled. They currently sit 12.5 games back in the Central, in fourth place. They are in a similar Wild Card position as the Phillies. They have six teams in front of them, and are floating around the eight game deficit as the end of August creeps up on them.
When I think about the White Sox team, I think about a team who seems to be consistent with the Phillies in many offensive categories. They are both in the bottom ten in OPS, runs, homers, and OBP (a category the Phillies rank last in baseball).
It is surprising to think the White Sox suffer from such offensive desolation considering bats throughout their lineup. Todd Frazier is hitting an abysmal .212 this season, despite his 31 homers. And while Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera are having solid offensive seasons, the role player support just is not there.
They do have a 29-year-old star manning the middle of their order though. Jose Abreu is in his third season with the White Sox and has continued to impress. His rookie campaign, in which he hit .317/.383/.581 with 36 home runs and 107 RBI, earned him a Silver Slugger and Rookie of the Year honors. When most expected a sophomore slump, the slugging first baseman/DH came back with .290/.347/.502 with 30 bombs and 101 RBI.
The 29-year-old is not having a year that will match what I have previously mentioned. His power numbers are down this season (16 round trippers). His slash line is still very good, although it is not what his previous two seasons have been (.283/.338/.447). And his run production is down significantly, only driving in 67 runs this season so far.
The argument in his defense is simply the lack of production taking place around him. The Sox expected Frazier to give the Cuban defector the deserved and needed production, but it never happened.
He remains a difficult out and has seemingly gotten pretty hot over the last 30 games (.317/.366/.510 with five homers and 13 RBI). With him going well, Phillies pitching must be careful.
Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff need to pick their spots with Abreu. His swing allows him to stay on pitches longer and through the zone with more power. He stays on the ball much longer than most power hitters, allowing him to hit any pitch out of the stadium, or in his worst case, make tremendous contact.
He does not see many swings and misses in the zone. However, he can be fooled out of the zone quite a bit. With offspeed and breaking stuff potential like Eickhoff and Thompson have, they may be able to get him fishing the next two nights.