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Gamethread: White Sox at Astros

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At least it’s a lefty this time

Sumo Wrestlers
Not actually Lance Lynn vs. Framber Valdez, but a possible extra inning alternative to a man on second
Photo by Henry Guttmann Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After scoring only three runs combined against Houston righthanders in the first two games of the series, the White Sox are probably pretty happy to be getting a southpaw to bat against in game three. The problem is the southpaw in question, who will be facing Lance Lynn.

Framber Valdez isn’t quite in Lynn’s category in the Bartolo Colon-silhouette-alike contest, but at 5-foot-11, 239 pounds, he’s close. And he’s certainly not in Lynn’s category as a pitcher over his career, but this season he’s extremely close. In fact, his ERA is even better than Lynn’s — Valdez’s 1.42 to Lynn’s 1.51 — so he’d be leading the league instead of Lynn if he had pitched enough innings to qualify.

Valdez is shy on innings because he broke a finger in spring training, and has only been back for four regular season starts — in none of which he has given up more than one earned run. The latest was against the Twins, so maybe no big deal, but the other three were against San Diego and Boston (twice), which is impressive. He’s also gone at least seven innings in all but his first start.

He has definite grounds for success — ground balls, that is. Valdez’s 75% grounder rate — that is not a typo, folks — is so much higher than Dallas Keuchel’s MLB-leading 57.6%, Keuchel isn’t even in the rearview mirror while crossing Bonneville Salt Flats, but again, he hasn’t pitched enough to qualify. Credit his use of throwing 49% sinkers and a devastating curve 32% of the time for getting people to hit on top of the ball. Valdez only uses his 92ish mph 4-seamer 13.25%, so there’s no sitting on a regular fastball.

Lefties have actually hit Valdez a little better than righties — .214 to .179 — but he has faced so few left-handed batters, the sample size is minuscule. Still, our HOFBP has a lineup with no one hitting from the left side.

Note that Andrew Vaughn is playing, so apparently he’s suffering no ill effects from getting hit in the face by a throw to second last night.

Before Thursday, the Sox hadn’t played against the Astros since 2019, but Lynn was with Texas last year, so he faced them twice. It was not pretty. Not pretty at all.

In the two games, Lynn lasted 11 2/3 innings and gave up 15 earned runs. Yep, you read that right. A good deal of the damage was by hitters no longer in Houston, or injured, but there was plenty of whomping by current players, as well. Lynn will be hoping the third time is the charm against a lineup that has Michael Brantley moved up to the No. 2 hole and Robel Garcia playing third.

Jose Altuve (R) 2B
Michael Brantley (L) DH
Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
Yordan Alvarez (L) LF
Carlos Correa (R) SS
Robel Garcia (S) 3B
Chas McCormick (R) RF
Martin Maldonado (R) C
Myles Straw (R) CF

First pitch is set for 6:15 Central, with the Minute Maid dome closed (it’s only 95 in Houston — wimps). FOX is carrying the game, and if things get dull, you can depend on A.J. to liven things up with his announcing. Yep, that A.J.. Usual radio folks.