On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2012 season.
The Opponent: The White Sox weren't expected to be in first place at this point in the season and a sweep at the hands of the preseason favorites from Detroit last weekend seemed to hammer home that point. Chicago rebounded with a sweep of the Twins this week, though, and they seem prepared to force the AL Central to go down to the wire.
Past 2012 Meetings: The lowest point of the Rangers season came against the White Sox in Chicago at the start of this month. There was a 19-3 loss to kick off a three-game sweep that featured the Rangers looking worse than they have at just about any point in the last three years. The Rangers did take two of three during Chicago's previous visit to Arlington, so perhaps there was just something in the wind.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Chris Sale (11-3, 2.37 ERA) vs. Yu Darvish (11-6, 3.88); Saturday - Philip Humber (4-5, 6.25) vs. Matt Harrison (12-5, 3.02); Sunday - Gavin Floyd (8-8, 4.46) vs. Roy Oswalt (3-1, 5.22)
What's Hot: The rebounds of several offensive players has been a big part of the White Sox rise in the standings, but Sale's breakout season has been just as important. The White Sox hoped that Sale could be a front of the rotation starter this year. They must be pleased to see that he's looking like even more than that and, at 23, there should be plenty more good days to come.
The fact that Craig Gentry has been one of the more reliable lineup pieces in recent weeks could probably go in the next category given how much is expected of the rest of the lineup. We're feeling charitable, though, and Gentry has been really good recently so we'll take Monty Python's advice and look on the brighter side of life.
Martin Perez picked a good time to have a good start. His strong effort against the Red Sox this week came just in time for the Rangers to think about trading him for a starter with a bit more experience to help them the rest of the way. The last weekend before the trade deadline is always fun because of all the names that get thrown about. Perez's outing could make it even more fun.
What's Not: This space is reserved for Josh Hamilton until Nolan Ryan tells us that he is playing enough like Hank Aaron to avoid placement in this space.
With the deadline looming, you have to wonder if the White Sox might finally be ready to cut bait on Gordon Beckham. He's been bad for more than two full seasons and he's posted a robust 470 OPS this month for a team that could use something resembling competency if they are going to outlast the Tigers.
The heart hopes that Colby Lewis' role over the last three years gets rewarded with a new contract from the Rangers this offseason. The mind says that 33-year-old pitchers off season-ending arm injuries that could linger into the next year don't tend to get treated all that well.
Familiar Faces: John Danks could be returning soon for the White Sox, but the Rangers won't see him unless there's a playoff matchup between the two teams. With no other Texas alumni cashing checks in Chicago, we'll instead mention Brett Myers' arrival as the eighth inning man in the White Sox bullpen.