The Chicago White Sox have endured a sluggish second half of the season after flirting with .500 before the All-Star break, but the club has counted on two constants throughout.
A sound rotation and stalwart first baseman Jose Abreu continue to buoy the White Sox as the team ends a six-game homestand with a Wednesday matinee against the visiting Houston Astros.
Chicago pitching has produced four quality starts in the first five games of the homestand, including two during Tuesday's doubleheader split with Houston, capped by a complete game from Ivan Nova.
"I think that, in the future, we can be one of the most dominant rotations in baseball," White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito said. "You look at the raw stuff we all have, it's there. It's just a matter of continuing to build confidence, gaining experience and just going out there and executing."
Abreu can attest to such steadiness, to be sure. After going 3-for-8 with a double and an RBI in the doubleheader, he remains on pace for his fifth season of at least 25 home runs, 100 RBI and 30 doubles.
The organization also emphasizes the veteran's influence on a young and jelling clubhouse, one Abreu has openly aspired to stick around as he approaches free agency following the 2019 season.
"We've seen him at times when he wanted to carry us a little more than he probably should," Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. "Everybody has to toe the line. Everybody has to do their part. We've all seen him when he's had a little bit of a tough time and when he's scaled back and allowed guys to do their job."
Chicago hitting coach Todd Steverson called Abreu "as valuable to us as anything."
"Every team has a guy they say, 'He ain't going to beat us,'" Steverson said. "With us right now, it's him. It's the fact he's created that around him as a player in this league for 5 1/2 years now."
Abreu boasts sound career numbers against Wednesday's scheduled Astros starter, Wade Miley (11-4, 2.99 ERA). With five hits in 16 at-bats, he is batting .313 against Miley with one home run and three RBI.
Houston hopes to get extended innings from Miley after relying on its bullpen during the nightcap of Tuesday's doubleheader. Gerrit Cole was scratched from his scheduled start due to right hamstring discomfort just moments before the game, leaving the relief corps to log eight innings.
At 1-4 with a 7.22 ERA in six starts versus Chicago, Miley has struggled in his career against the White Sox. However, he enters Wednesday's game on a hot streak, yielding just 11 earned runs in his past eight starts covering 48 2/3 innings for a 2.03 ERA. He has not faced the White Sox this season.
Miley navigated brief command issues Friday in a 3-2 road win against Baltimore, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings.
"I was pretty wild out there early," Miley said. "I don't think it was until the fifth inning where I finally started commanding it where I wanted it to, but I was able to make pitches."
Fellow lefty Ross Detwiler (1-3, 5.35 ERA) is set to start for Chicago. Detwiler is making his third straight start since returning from the bullpen. He has yielded four runs in his past 11 innings.
Detwiler is 1-1 with a 2.52 ERA in seven career appearances against Houston, including four starts. He has not opposed the Astros this season.
--Field Level Media
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