The Chicago White Sox made some big improvements to their roster for the 2016 season, adding Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, and Austin Jackson into the mix, and they’ll show off their new acquisitions this week as they open the regular season.
The big question of course is whether they’ve done enough to compete in a wide-open Central Division, as the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians all loom as potential threats, and the Minnesota Twins lie in wait as their young roster begins to get MLB experience.
All of those storylines will play out over the next 162 games, but for now, the Sox are focused on getting the season off on the right foot, and we’re previewing their first seven games of the new campaign.
After losing four straight games, the White Sox finished off their Cactus League schedule with a flourish, winning three of their final four games in Arizona and sweeping a weekend set over the San Diego Padres at PetCo Park.
The late surge gave the team a winning record during their spring training campaign, and they had several noteworthy performances during their time in the desert. Avisail Garcia slugged five home runs and drove in 19 RBI in 20 Cactus League games, sporting a .361 average in the process.
Jose Abreu also had a high batting average, with a .383 on the spring season, and he too had five home runs. He did strike out 15 times in 60 at-bats, but the White Sox will take that as long as he can post a total like the .431 on-base percentage that he accumulated this spring.
This Week’s Schedule:
Apr. 4 - Apr. 7: at Oakland
The White Sox generally don’t play well on the West Coast, but they’ll have to overcome that as they open the season against the Athletics. A couple of really good pitching matchups lead off the series, as Chris Sale will battle Sonny Gray on Monday night in the Bay Area, and the next night Jose Quintana will spar with Rich Hill.
Apr. 8 - Apr. 10: vs. Cleveland
The White Sox will play a day game on Thursday before hopping on the team plane and heading back to Chicago for their home opener Friday against the Tribe. Sox fans will get to see Sale pitch on home turf on Saturday, but John Danks will handle the Opening Day duties on Friday as Chance the Rapper headlines a full slate of activities at U.S. Cellular Field.
Who to Watch For:
For those fans hoping for a hot start from Frazier, the opening week opponents he will face could dampen the mood. In 76 career plate appearances, Frazier has a .162 average and just three RBI against the Indians, and in a much more limited sample size, he is 1-for-13 lifetime against the Athletics.
On the other side of the coin, the White Sox can probably expect some big things from Abreu in the first month of the season. He has 20 career home runs in April during his career, and he has a sparkling .941 OPS and a .283 batting average during the season’s opening month.
On the mound, Quintana had a lot of success against the Indians and the A’s last season. In four starts combined against the two teams, the starter allowed just three earned runs in 29 innings and struck out 24 batters during that span. He only ended up with a 2-1 record in the games thanks to poor run support, but his performances against those teams helped establish his reputation as one of the more underrated pitchers in the league.