If starting pitchers Jose Quintana and Martin Perez match each other Friday night, the Chicago White Sox figure to have a major edge over the Texas Rangers because of their bullpen.
White Sox relievers have baseball's best ERA while the Rangers bullpen has produced the AL's worst heading into the series opener at U.S. Cellular Field.
Runs could come at a premium in this contest since Chicago's Quintana (1-1, 2.55 ERA) is 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA in his last eight starts while Perez (0-1, 3.44) is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career outings versus the White Sox.
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A matchup of bullpens could be a mismatch since Chicago (10-6) sports a relief ERA of 1.62 while Texas is at 5.59.
That puts more an onus on Perez, who may be up to the task even though the Rangers (10-6) have lost his last five starts with three this season. He surrendered three runs in six-plus innings in Friday's 11-5 loss to Baltimore.
No White Sox hitter has more than one hit against Perez, with slugger Jose Abreu 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
That's bad news for Abreu, who is hitting .190 with a team-high 18 strikeouts. He is batting .108 with one extra-base hit and 11 strikeouts in his last 10 games.
"I think he's chasing pitches, trying to do too much," manager Robin Ventura said. "When you're hitting .190, you're a .190 hitter and there's a reason why you're doing it and it's probably because you're chasing pitches.
"But is he better than that, do we expect more out of him? Absolutely. We have confidence that he's going to do that. But as soon as he stops chasing it, he's going to be just fine."
Abreu isn't the only struggling hitter for Chicago, with Todd Frazier (.206), Jimmy Rollins (.217), Austin Jackson (.170) and Avisail Garcia (.146) all off to slow starts. Frazier hit his second homer in three games in Thursday's 3-2 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.
"The bottom line is nobody wants to fail and everybody wants to succeed and we've all been through it," Frazier said. "Early in this year there's a couple guys, including myself, that aren't hitting up to their standards and we all know that and we're working our tail off and we'll be fine in the long run."
The Rangers have won a season-high four straight after completing a three-game sweep of arch-rival Houston with Thursday's 7-4 home victory.
''A sweep of anybody is, obviously, anytime during the year is big,'' manager Jeff Banister said. ''It doesn't matter the name on the front of the jersey.''
Ian Desmond, who entered Thursday with baseball's worst slugging percentage among qualifying hitters at .151, delivered his first homer with Texas with a three-run blast. He is showing signs of improvement by going 4 for 11 in the series.
''I'm believing in my swing," he said. "That's the stuff that I'm looking for. I'm not necessarily worried about hits.''
Shortstop Elvis Andrus is batting .429 during an eight-game hitting streak.
These teams split six meetings last year. The Rangers have dropped 10 of 14 meetings at Chicago.