Fresh off defeathering the hapless Orioles, the White Sox start a four-game series in Cleveland with a Memorial Day doubleheader, and this first game is just plain unfair — but we’ll take it. Given the pitching matchup, the spread is probably Sox minus about 24, but it may be wise to give the points.
That’s because the Sox will have Carlos Rodón on the mound, with a 1.29 ERA and coming off of two brilliant starts against the Yankees and Cardinals, albeit brilliance wasted by offensive failures. Cleveland will be starting Triston McKenzie, with a 5.94 ERA and about as much control as Charlie Brown has over a kite — in a blizzard.
Rodón has faced the Tribe twice this year, giving up one earned run in 14 innings, even while struggling with control the second time. That run was a homer by Jordan Luplow, who just joined an injury list that threatens to outnumber the playable roster.
McKenzie has faced the Sox twice as well, lasting a total of six innings, giving up just three hits but eight runs. That’s because he walked six — right on his average — and two of the three hits exited the premises after a bunch of those walks, a three-run job by Adam Eaton and a grand slam by Tim Anderson.
Cleveland’s starter doesn’t give up many hits, despite relying heavily on a low-90s four-seamer, perhaps because opposing batters come down with acute liftangleitis — two HRs per nine innings — or because they’re staying very light on their feet to avoid getting hit by errant throws, since the ball could come anywhere between the dugouts.
McKenzie has been so bad he was sent down to Triple-A, but then immediately recalled after Zach Plesac broke his thumb (reportedly while angrily ripping off his jersey, a story so dumb it might be true). McKenzie’s last outing was actually pretty good, one hit and no runs for five innings on Wednesday, but that was against the Tigers, so it may not show much.
McKenzie will face a Sox lineup that doesn’t include Andrew Vaughn, who has a .556 OPS against righties.
Rodón not only avoids Luplow, but also Franmil Reyes, on the IL with an oblique strain, leaving a lineup of José Ramírez and, well, eight other guys. A strategy of get two outs, hold up four fingers when Ramírez steps in, get eight more outs, hold up four fingers again, rinse, repeat, should work wonders.
Earlier today, the White Sox put Michael Kopech on the IL retroactive to the 28th and brought up Jimmy Lambert, who will be starting the nightcap. Lambert’s 7.71 ERA in Charlotte indicates that game may be more of a challenge, especially since he’ll be facing Call Quantrill, who has a 2.03 ERA.
Game time is 2:10 p.m. Central, with the usual NBCSCH/WMVP broadcast combo.