What do the White Sox do not-so-well?
1. They are not a good defensive team
This is why Houston needs to generate tough outs – Chicago is not a good defensive team. The White Sox ranked 17th in defensive deficiencies they have the fifth most errors in the majors (96) in her 26 and defensive runs saved.
Guys like Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada leave a lot to be desired defensively in the infield, and many of their outfielders were negative defensive first baseman prospects that that were converted to the outfield for necessity.
Also, Tony LaRussa doesn’t believe in the shift all that much – the White Sox only shift 21% of the time (28th in the league) and they almost only shift when they’re facing a left-handed hitter. It is likely, with the potential exception of the Boston Red Sox, the White Sox will be the worst defensive team in the playoffs.
How can Houston exploit?
The Houston Astros lead the majors and walks and most pitches per at bats. Translation – Houston works counts very and generates walks, something that usually leads to success dividends in the playoffs. If the Astros hitters stay in the zone and drive balls in play, there could be some opportunities for the Astros to blow the game open just by Chicago’s own wrongdoing.
2. Chicago hitters struggle against power
The White Sox are amongst the best in the league at hitting against finesse pitchers, hitting a dominant .283 BA against them (Baseball-Reference: Finesse pitchers are guys in the lower 33rd percent in SO+Walks rates). Pitchers that try to groove balls in and generate ground outs do not match up well against this dynamic White Sox lineup.
However, this White Sox team struggles against power pitchers (top 33 percent of SO & Walk rates), only slashing a cumulative .201 BA and.655 OPS against them. Power guys — Gerrit Cole, Jacob de Grom, Robbie Ray and Justin Verlander for example — generally have above-average success against this White Sox lineup.
How Can the Astros exploit?
Good news for the Houston Astros: They have a handful of key players who fit that power pitcher characteristic. Starters Lance McCullers, Luis Garcia and Framber Valdez are all in the top third strikeout rates, as our relievers Cristian Javier, Kendall Graveman and closer Ryan Pressly.
Lance McCullers, who may be the Game 1 and Game 4/5 starter, could very well be the X factor for the Houston Astros. The White Sox live only hit .138 (5-43) against McCullers with 14 strikeouts. If McNasty can continue this trend, Houston should take control of this series.