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Gamethread: White Sox at Royals

Can ReyLo keep his renaissance going?

It being Hawk’s 80th birthday and the White Sox being in Kansas City, it was natural to Google “Kansas City Special.” The general hits were on the obscene side, but the first image was nicely musical.

After a Friday night disappointment that has moved the question from “Can Dallas Keuchel recover to be useful in the playoffs?” to “Will Dallas Keuchel still be an $18 million albatross in 2022?” it’s time to move on to a pitcher very much on the upswing. In fact, two of them, both of whom got sentenced to the minors, did miserably there, but somehow got called back up and are shining.

All White Sox fans know about the rebirth of Reynaldo López, who has come from a 6.49 ERA, 7.63 FIP and 1.633 WHIP in 2020 to a 1.54/2.76/amazing 0.686 this year. Not only has ReyLo pitched remarkably well, but despite the big turnaround, he has somehow managed to avoid being the subject of a godawful commercial like the Guaranteed Rate abomination about Lucas Giolito.

(López’s story about being awful because he couldn’t see the signs until he got lasik surgery is unlikely, since missing all those signs would have led to a steady stream of irate, battered catchers stomping to the mound, but if he believes it and it helps with his confidence, why quibble?)

The story of Daniel Lynch of the Royals isn’t quite so dramatic, because he’s only a rookie, not someone who had seemed to have proven himself incapable of being a major league pitcher, and since Lynch’s ERA in Triple-A was only pushing six, instead of eight, as had been the case for López.

Still, Lynch’s Jekyll-and-Hydeing has been remarkable. He had three starts in May, to the tune of a 15.75 ERA and an 0-2 record, much of the damage in an abysmal showing against the White Sox, who smashed him for eight earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. That earned him a demotion to Omaha, where his stats were not good, but where something good happened — maybe Warren Buffett dropped by to give some sage advice.

Lynch was brought back up to the Royals in late July, and since then has earned the right to use the words of the late, great Roger Miller and proclaim “I’m the king of Kansas City, no thanks, Omaha, thanks lots.” He’s amassed a 4-1 record, giving up just 10 runs in 43 13 innings, including a nifty five-inning, one-run stint against the White Sox that led to a 3-2 Royals win. That’s not quite López level, but it’s darned good, and unlike ReyLo, it has all been as a starter.

The 6´6´´ southpaw has big platoon splits, to the point righties bat .305 against him with an .842 OPS, but that’s counting both the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde portions of the season. He tosses a low-90s four-seamer 40% of the time, a slider 28%, changeup 18%, and sinker 12%. Fortunately, it’s easy for the HOFBP to put out a lineup of all righties and switch-hitters, with Romy González batting leadoff in his first major league start.

López has faced the Royals three times this season in relief, for a total of four innings, giving up two runs, one earned — that one a dinger by Edward Olivares. It looked like Reylo might get a break and not have to face Sox-killer and all-around smasher Salvador Perez, who left Friday night’s game with a neck contusion (after two hits and a walk, naturally), but catchers are tough and Perez is one of the toughest, so he’s in the lineup.

Neither pitcher tends to go deep — López hasn’t topped five innings this year and Lynch has only gone longer once in his last five starts, so expect a lot of bullpen action.

First pitch 6:10 p.m. Central, usual broadcast outlets, and who knows who will be announcing. Maybe this time, instead of the Bulls crew, the TV booth will feature a duo from the World Curling Championships. Or maybe not, since the White Sox can’t be looking for a sweep.