The Angels will take on the White Sox in the first of four games on Thursday to kick-off Opening Week. This will be as good a test as any for the Halos pitching staff against one of the league’s best offenses.
In 2020, Chicago earned a Wild Card spot with a 35-25 record. They would have won the AL Central had it not been for a 2-8 finish in their final 10 games. Their season came to an end at the hands of the Oakland A’s who came back from a 1-0 deficit in the best-of-three first round.
During the offseason, Chicago parted ways with manager Rick Renteria in exchange for one of the all-time greats, Tony La Russa. The Hall of Famer is making his return to the Major League Dugout after a ten-year absence.
LA Angels Opening Day: White Sox offense provides early test for Halos pitching.
Last summer, the White Sox finished top-5 in runs scored (306-5th), hits (534-4th), and home runs (96-3rd). They also ranked top-10 in team batting average (.261-8th) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.779). They were pretty darn good, and the same can be expected this season.
Projected White Sox Lineup (2020 Statistics):
- Tim Anderson-SS (49 games): (.322/.357/.529) 10 HR 21 RBI
- Adam Eaton-RF (41 games): (.226/.285/.384) 4 HR 17 RBI
- Jose Abreu-1B (60 games): (.317/.370/.617) 19 HR 60 RBI
- Yasmani Grandal-C (46 games): (.230/.351/.422) 8 HR 27 RBI
- Luis Robert-CF (56 games): (.233/.302/.436) 11 HR 31 RBI
- Leury Garcia-LF (16 games): (.271/.317/.441) 3 HR 8 RBI
- Yoan Moncada-3B (52 games): (.225/.320/.385) 6 HR 24 RBI
- Zack Collins-DH (DNP–Rookie)
- Nick Madrigial-2B (29 games): (.340/.376/.369) 0 HR 11 RBI
Notably absent from this lineup is slugging left fielder Eloy Jimenez. The White Sox will be without Jimenez for a majority of the regular season after a torn pectoral. This offense is still loaded with talent, including reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu.
They get their fair share of hits, but this is also an offense that strikes out a lot. The White Sox finished the 2020 season with the fourth-most strikeouts (571) in the league.
Projected Pitching Matchups:
- Game 1 (Thursday @7:05pm PT): RHP Lucas Giolito vs RHP Dylan Bundy
- Game 2 (Friday @6:38pm PT): LHP Dallas Keuchel vs LHP Andrew Heaney
- Game 3 (Saturday @6:07pm PT): RHP Lance Lynn vs RHP Alex Cobb
- Game 4 (Sunday @7:37pm PT) RHP Dylan Cease vs RHP Shohei Ohtani
This Angels staff will be put to the test early. One matchup to keep an eye on will be in game two when Andrew Heaney takes the mound. He’s struggled in spring training, and this heavy right-handed Chicago lineup was one of the best in the league against left-handers last summer (.285/.364/.523).
Aside from the PECOTA rankings, there are many around the league who are picking this Chicago team as a favorite in the American League.
They’ve got the offense to get the job done, and added some rotation pieces that make them a legitimate World Series contender.
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