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Gamethread: Athletics at White Sox

The South Siders aim for two straight against the Wild Card-incumbent Athletics

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

After an exciting win on Monday night, the White Sox (69-50) will try to win their second in a row against the Athletics (68-51).

With Carlos Rodón still lacking a clear timetable for return and Lance Lynn picking up an extra day of rest, the Sox are once again turning to Reynaldo López (1-0, 1.35 ERA) to hold down the fort against an Oakland team that has lost three of four after winning 11 of their previous 13.

López has been brilliant in a swingman role since being recalled from Charlotte on July 16th. In that time, López has pitched 20 innings over 10 appearances and allowed just three earned runs on 10 hits and five walks, striking out 22. It will be the second consecutive start for López, who pitched three innings and only allowed one hit and zero runs against Minnesota on August 11th.

Reynaldo’s resurgence this season has been led by a simplified pitch mix, essentially ditching his changeup and curveball in lieu of increased reliance on the slider, which has always been his best secondary pitch:

Combine that with the extra tick and a half of velocity he’s added in the bullpen—his fastball is averaging 95.7 MPH this season after dipping to 94.2 last year—and you’ve got a recipe for career-best rates for strikeouts (30.1%, 9.9 K/9), walks (6.8%, 2.2 BB/9), grounders (37%), swinging strikes (12%) and called strikes + whiffs (28%).

The 51 pitches he threw six days ago were his highest on the season, so with Aaron Bummer, Garrett Crochet, and Ryan Tepera fully rested (and at least one of Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks likely available), it seems unlikely we see Reynaldo for any more than four innings, with Ryan Burr or José Ruiz able to bridge the gap to the aforementioned should López struggle. Oakland chases out of the zone less than any team in the AL but the Astros and Yankees, so he’ll need to stay in around the plate to be successful. If he can manage to do that without leaving any hangers for the A’s opposite-handed boppers, he ought to be able to move through their lineup at least once with little difficulty.

On the other side, Jeff Samardzija trade alum Chris Bassitt (12-3, 3.06 ERA) takes the bump for Oakland looking for his second consecutive winning decision after throwing six scoreless frames against Cleveland last Thursday. Bassitt leads the American League with 150 innings pitched and 12 wins, his 16 quality starts are second only to Robbie Ray, and his ERA third behind Ray and our own Lance Lynn. The definition of a workhorse (as much as one exists these days), Bassitt has completed six-plus innings in 17 of his 24 starts this season, and only twice has he failed to go at least five.

Just as when he was in the Sox organization, Bassitt still isn’t going to blow hitters away with pure stuff, sitting at around 93 MPH with his fastballs with roughly average spin. Not unlike Lance Lynn, Bassitt keeps hitters off-balance by mixing in three different fastballs, working primarily with a heavy, tailing sinker (36% usage) and offsetting it with a much straighter four-seamer and cutter whose movement mirrors the sinker’s well, using them each roughly 18% of the time.

He rounds out his arsenal with a visually unremarkable but effective slider that he throws 10% of the time, as well as a big, slow, looping curveball (7% usage) and mid-eighties changeup (10% usage), both of which he throws primarily to lefties. Bassitt generally pitches to contact and works all over the zone, but a lively August night at 35th and Shields is a much different environment than the cavernous dimensions of the Coliseum on a chilly Bay Area evening, so expect Bassit to work low and try to avoid letting Sox hitters put the ball in the air.

Here are the starting lineups:

In other news, prior to the game, the team announced that Yasmani Grandal would be joining Triple-A Charlotte on his rehab assignment. Grandal underwent surgery for a torn tendon in his knee on July 6th.