The Chicago White Sox (46-60) come in to South Philly for a three-game weekend Interleague series with the host Philadelphia Phillies (57-51) at Citizens Bank Park.
Though both teams are at around the same spot in their respective divisions, their respective fates in this 2019 season couldn’t be more different. The Chisox season is already over. They are buried at 14.5 games out in both the AL Central Division race and American League Wildcard playoff race.
The Phillies enter this series in a three-way tie with the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs for the two available NL Wildcard playoff berths. The Phillies are tied for second place, sitting six games behind the Atlanta Braves in the loss column in the National League East Division.
These two franchise’ have met just 16 times in their history, with the Phillies capturing 10 of those, including eight of 11 meetings at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have also won the last three straight in the head-to-head series, taking the last two at home by 8-3 and 7-6 scores back in September of 2016.
The Phillies and White Sox share an affinity for a recent-era legend, Jim Thome. Though he was inducted last summer to the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Cleveland Indians cap, Thome starred with the Phillies from 2003-05 and returned briefly in 2012. He was inducted to the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2016.
Dealt to the Chisox in November 2005 in a multi-player deal highlighted by Aaron Rowand coming to Philly, Thome then starred in Chicago into the 2009 season when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the August 31 waiver deadline. He actually played in more games (529-391) and hit more home runs (134-101) with the White Sox than the Phillies. Thome now works as a special assistant to the White Sox organization.
A plaque is located at the White Sox home ball park, Guaranteed Rate Field, in the center field fan deck honoring Thome. It reads: “On June 4, 2008, Chicago White Sox slugger Jim Thome became the first player ever to hit a baseball onto the Fan Deck of U.S. Cellular Field as the Sox beat the Kansas City Royals. He duplicated the tape-measure feat on September 30, 2008 as the White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 1-0, in a one-game playoff to win the American League Central Division championship.”
The last time that the Chisox came to Philly it resulted in a Phillies sweep. Frankly, this is the kind of opponent that these current Phillies need to sweep as well. That is easier said than done. The Phillies haven’t swept any series of three or more games since taking out the New York Mets in a four-gamer back in late June, the last time they won four straight games at all.
In the August 1 MLB Power Ranking released here at Phillies Nation, the White Sox ranked just 28th of the 30 MLB clubs. The Phillies finished 14th in those most recent rankings. Scoring at a rate of 4.08 runs per game, the Chicago offense is 28th in MLB. Their pitching staff OPS-against of .339 is 24th, similar to the Phillies staff .334 (22nd) mark.
Thome will not be the only former Phillies face showing up this weekend. The Phillies are honoring their 2009 National League Championship team in a reunion celebration on both Friday night and Sunday afternoon with appearances by players such as Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Brett Myers, Brad Lidge and more. On Saturday night, Bobby Abreu will be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame.
Jon Jay (34/RF): .324/.352/.392, 7 doubles, 7 RBIs, 10 runs (just 110 PA’s since June 24 promotion)
Yoan Moncada (24/3B): Happily for the Phillies from a competitive standpoint, the White Sox young star third baseman will miss this series. He was placed on the IL just yesterday with what has been diagnosed as a Grade 1 right hamstring strain. He is expected to be out at least two weeks.
Though it may be good timing for the Phillies, that is a shame for baseball fans. We will be missing out on seeing one of the game’s top young talents, one who doesn’t come to Philadelphia very often since his team plays in the American League Central Division.
Moncada is a 24-year-old who signed with the Boston Red Sox as a high-profile teenage Cuban bonus baby back in 2015. Then in December 2016, he changed socks – literally. The Red Sox sent him to the White Sox as part of a big four-prospect package in exchange for superstar pitcher Chris Sale.
He had received an eight-game cup of coffee with Boston for his MLB debut in 2016, but it was Chicago who gave him his first permanent big-league promotion and starting role beginning in July 2017.
As a 23-year-old in his first full big-league campaign a year ago, Moncada rapped out 55 extra-base hits. He also struck out 217 times, a figure that led all of Major League Baseball.
This year he took a step forward, slashing .301/.358/.535 with 44 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs, and 58 runs scored over his first 97 games prior to the injury.
The Phillies are one of just five MLB teams that he has never faced. Phillies fans will now have to wait at least a while longer before they get their first look at this talented youngster. By the time they do, he could well be much more fully developed star.
The Phillies will happily miss Giolito (center), during this weekend series. (Ian D’Andrea)
CHISOX SHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS
FRIDAY – Ivan Nova (32/RH): 6-9, 5.23 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.440 WHIP, 149 hits over 125.2 IP across 22 starts with an 81/32 K:BB
SATURDAY – Ross Detwiler (33/LH: 1-1, 6.35 ERA, 6.84 FIP, 1.676 WHIP, 34 hits over 22.2 IP across 7 appearnces (3 starts) with a 12/4 K:BB
SUNDAY – Reynaldo Lopez (25/RH): 5-9, 5.43 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 1.464 WHIP, 136 hits over 124.1 IP across 22 starts with a 117/46 K:BB
Moncada is not the only talented Chisox youngster whom the Phillies are happy to be missing in this series. Their lone 2019 American League All-Star, starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, took his regular turn on Wednesday night, and so is not scheduled to go during these three games.
Rick Renteria: The 57-year-old Renteria is now in his third season at the helm of the Chisox, having piloted the team to a pair of fourth place finishes. Chicago has won just 67 and 62 games in his first two seasons. This year they are playing much better, but still find themselves 13 games below the .500 mark and already out of the postseason picture.
Renteria was the first round pick at 20th overall back in the 1980 MLB Draft out of South Gate High School in his native California. He played in parts of five big-league seasons with three different teams, seeing his most action as a utility infielder with the expansion 1993 Florida Marlins.
He was both a coach and manager in the Marlins minor league organization after retiring as a player through 2001, and then joined the San Diego Padres in a variety of roles through 2013.
Renteria was hired for his first big-league managerial job with the Chicago Cubs in November 2013. However, he was let go a year later when the Cubs opted to bring in Joe Maddon. Renteria caught on as the Chisox bench coach in 2016, leading to his taking over the managerial reigns for the 2017 campaign.
SERIES WEATHER REPORT
FRIDAY: The temps will drop from the low-80’s at the 7:05 pm first pitch time into the upper-70’s through the game. Winds will be light throughout the game, and there is only a slight chance of showers. Should be a nice night at the ballpark for the opener.
SATURDAY: There is a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms in the forecast for the 7:05 pm first pitch time. Light winds and real-feel temps in the low-80’s throughout the night.
SUNDAY: Mostly sunny with real-feels around the 90 degree mark, light winds, slight chance of showers at the 1:05 pm first pitch time. In all, weather should not play much of a role in this series, aside from the slight possibility of a passing shower at some point.