Game 27 Preview: White Sox at Tigers

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Dylan Axelrod #39 of the Chicago White Sox pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 20, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Chicago White Sox (13-14) at Detroit Tigers (13-13)

Time/Place: 1 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: South Side Sox

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Dylan Axelrod (no starts) vs. Rick Porcello (2-2, 5.64 ERA)

The White Sox announced recently that left-hander Chris Sale would be taking over the closer role. There were just two problems with that. The first, that left Chicago without a closer for a couple of days while Sale took a few days of rest. The second, Chicago had to find a warm body to join the rotation. Dylan Axelrod was that body.

Axelrod doesn't have a long major-league track record to fall back on here. He has just 22 innings under his belt. In those innings, he allowed walks 10 times. But it's not all bad: He has 21 strikeouts and a 2.86 ERA during that time, too. He made three starts in 2011.

Otherwise, the 26-year-old right-hander has spent parts of six seasons in the minors, making 56 starts and 171 appearances with a nice 2.72 ERA. He has a nice track record of striking out batters while not causing himself a lot of trouble with walks.

If ever there was a chance to prove himself at the MLB level, now is it.

Outlook

Detroit and Chicago continue fighting for second place in the American League Central Division, while Cleveland hopes its division-lead in May turns out better than last year.

Although we can put the blame on Jose Valverde for Saturday's loss, as he was the most visible aspect of it, that only masks the true problem: The lineup that teased us with the possibility of scoring 900 runs (even though that seemed an unrealistic goal to some) is under-performing. Fox Sports teased, "Can the White Sox slow down Detroit's powerful offense?" ahead of yesterday's meeting. What offense, you certainly have to wonder. The No. 2 batter has an OBP of .234, the No. 4 batter is a highly-paid singles hitter. Something has to change before the pitchforks and torches are brought to the gates of Comerica Park. One can only hope it changes soon.

Prediction

Detroit strikes out a bunch of times, but scores more than two runs.

Gameday reading:

White Sox 3, Tigers 2: Dunn makes closer woes mutual - South Side Sox
The baseball gods have evened the score at one blown ninth inning apiece.

White Sox fail to manage Sale, message - South Side Sox
If you don't understand why Chicago decided to move Chris Sale to the bullpen from the rotation, that's OK. It's hard to say Robin Ventura has a good grasp, either, at least in his attempts to explain the move. Is he hurting? Is he fine? Who knows!

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