Good morning Sox fans, and welcome back to yet another edition of Sunday afternoon baseball!
The Chicago White Sox are coming off two electric wins against the Texas Rangers, and will go for the series sweep today. We saw a strong offensive performance in the first game of the series, and an impressive pitching performance last night, so who knows what today will bring. Coming into today at 11-9, the team is only 1 1⁄2 games back of the first-place Kansas City Royals, so hopefully we can continue our win streak to be crowned the new division leaders sometime this week. (I know it’s only April but look, we’ve won three in a row and things are looking up right now, so why not?)
Today is quite an eventful day in White Sox history. On this day in 2012, Paul Konerko smacked his 400th home run into the stands at the Oakland Coliseum. On this day in 2014, José Abreu became the second rookie in MLB history to hit a game-ending grand slam. Both of those moments were also beautifully called by Hawk Harrelson, and fun fact, I actually have the commentary from Konerko’s home run memorized.
Here’s both of those videos, if you want to reminisce.
First, let’s get to know our starting pitchers a little more and see who we’re up against in today's matchup.
For the South Siders, righty Michael Kopech will be starting his second game of the season and making his sixth appearance overall. Originally, Lucas Giolito was scheduled to start, but due to cutting his finger open on a water bottle, he will get the day off. It’s early in the season, so let’s just not ask any more questions about that one.
Michael Kopech tends to get fans excited every time he steps on the mound, and to see him starting again shows terrific progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, which sidelined him for the 2019 season. After opting out of last season, some were even skeptical and questioned if Kopech would come back and live up to his expectations, and so far he has done just that.
Although he will be on an innings limit today, there is no doubt that he will come out strong and throw some heat in the innings he does get. In his last game against the Boston Red Sox, Kopech got the start and went three innings with four strikeouts. He also only allowed one hit and one walk. His ERA on the season currently sits at 1.69 with a 0.66 WHIP. In a total of 10 ⅔ innings pitched, he has 17 strikeouts. His strong suit seems to be his fastball, which he whiffs by players plenty of time. It is his most thrown pitch, and he uses it 62.3% of the time.
According to Tony La Russa, relievers Codi Heuer, Aaron Bummer, and Liam Hendriks will be unavailable today due to pitching in last night’s game, so hopefully Kopech can have a solid outing before the rest of the bullpen takes over. To that end, infielder Danny Mendick was sent back to Schaumburg to make room for Jonathan Stiever, and don’t be suprised if Stiever sees some time in Sunday’s game.
For the Rangers, righty Kohei Arihara will get his fifth start of the season. This is the 28-year-old’s first year in the majors, as he signed a two-year deal with the Rangers this offseason. Previously, he had played in Japan, for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. So far with Texas, he has been close to lights-out so far. One thing that makes Arihara’s pitch style so rare is the fact that he can throw up to seven different pitches, and uses them all interchangeably throughout any given at-bat. His two most-used pitches are his fastball and slider: He throws his fastball 30.5% of the time, followed by his slider at 20.1% of the time. In his last outing against the Angels, he pitched 5 2⁄3 innings, allowing just two hits while recording six strikeouts. His overall ERA is 2.21 and he holds a 0.93 WHIP. He has only allowed one home run this season, so let's see if the South Side’s strong slugging offense can change that after today.
Here is the starting lineup:
Tim Anderson will lead it off, followed by Adam Eaton and Yoán Moncada. Moncada has been stellar from the 3-spot this year, and looks to continue his offensive groove after going 3-for-4 last night. Yermín Mercedes will continue to be Yermín Mercedes, and Zack Collins will get the start for Yasmani Grandal behind the plate. Andrew Vaughn has been heating up as of lately, but he will get the day off as Leury García gets the start in left field. Nick Madrigal continues to be one of the best 9-spot hitters in the league, coming off of a clutch two-strike walk-off last night.
Capping off the road trip with Kohei on the bump. pic.twitter.com/RweOe08Mcs— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) April 25, 2021
Game time is at 1:10 p.m. C.T. and will be televised on NBCSCHI. You can also listen in on ESPN 1000. Let’s get those brooms out and ready!