It will be Reynaldo López on the mound for the Chicago White Sox this afternoon as they try to make it two-out-of-three in Philadelphia, an opportunity that would be improved if the Phillies were to again choose to pitch an outfielder.
The White Sox offense may be absolutely miserable against actual pitchers, scoring under three runs a game since the All-Star break, but it’s almost league average in scoring when it gets to oppose an outfielder, as it did on Friday night — a decent 4.5 runs/9 (of course, the MLB average of 4.83 runs per game tends to be set whilst batting against actual pitchers, but we have to see rays of sunshine where we may).
It will really help if López can pitch 12 or 13 innings of shutout ball (I made this recommendation to Dylan Cease his last time out, and I was unfortunately right). He hasn’t quite achieved that yet, but López’s last four starts have been terrific — 26 1⁄3 innings, 19 hits, eight walks, 31 strikeouts, and just seven runs (six earned).
The Phillies will counter with a Smyly face — Drew Smyly, to be precise. Smyly may be the poster child for the theory that a change in scenery can lead to change in performance.
Your basic crafty lefty — his fastball sits very low 90s — Smyly had a nice career going until undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2016 season. The TJS and some follow-up problems when he was trying to rehab cost him the 2017 and 2018 seasons, after which he got bounced around among what seems to be half of major league baseball.
Smyly ended up with the Texas Rangers at the start of this year, and he was absolutely awful — 1-5, 8.42 ERA, 8.05 WHIP, 3.3 HR/9, etc. Texas let him go in June, the Milwaukee Brewers signed him and then released him two weeks later without bringing him to the majors, and the pitching-desperate Phillies signed him on July 21.
The rest is change-of-scenery history, though very brief history. In two starts with Philadelphia, Smyly has allowed one run in 13 innings, while striking out 13. Those starts were against two weak-hitting teams — the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates — but neither of those teams is as weak as the White Sox.
So, two tense one-run games in this series so far, a possible third close one coming up. The White Sox have to hope to get into the decimated Phillies bullpen, and, eventually, to an outfielder. Or even maybe even an infielder.
Smyly will be facing a lineup with seven right-handed batters:
The Phillies will start Corey Dickerson for the first time in the series, leading off:
The temp is expected to be 88 degrees at 12:05 CDT first pitch time. NBC Sports on the idiot box, WGN on the boombox.