Finally! After wimping out of playing Monday and Tuesday just because of temperatures around freezing and winds strong enough to blow popups to Ashtabula, the White Sox and Guardians are getting down to business. The four-game series has been cut to three, with the nightcap today being an episode of The Weakest Link, with Triston McKenzie (whom the Sox generally beat up on) versus emergency Luis Giolito fill-in Jimmy Lambert. Tomorrow afternoon is a Young Guns production: Zach Plesac vs. Dylan Cease.
First, though, the teams have to cross the Bridge of Cys, with Cy Young winners Dallas Keuchel and Shane Bieber. They’ll be pitching in a downright balmy 48 degrees, with light winds toward left field.
Keuchel has a good career record at Progressive Field: 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA, despite a .266 bating average against. However, that record may have stayed good because he never pitched in Cleveland during his terrible 2021 season, when he did face it three times in Chicago, to the tune of a 6.61 ERA.
Keuchel’s one appearance this season was OK, with just a solo homer through four innings before giving up two more runs in the fifth. His line would have been better if the HOFBP applied what every Sox fan who is paying attention knows, namely that Keuchel is pretty much fried after 60 or so pitches. But maybe it was a kind gesture, letting Dallas stay in to get the win, his 100th, the HOFBP being famous for kind gestures. That game was the last time the White Sox scored more than three runs, which worked out well for Keuchel.
Bieber, who is one of the best in the game, has a lifetime 5-2 record against the Sox, holding them to a .210 batting average. He missed most of 2021 with a shoulder injury, but got three of his seven wins vs. the Sox, who managed only five runs in 25 innings and a .169 average, while striking out 32 times.
Bieber will be facing a White Sox lineup that has Danny Mendick at second, and the only batters who will hit lefty against him, Yasmani Grandal and Gavin Sheets, back-to-back:
Keuchel will be facing a Guardians lineup that includes Gabriel Arias, brought up from the minors to be the 29th man allowed for the doubleheader. and is without lefty rookie phenom Steven Kwan, who has been hitless for three games, dragging his OPS down 1.079.
The usually weak-hitting Clevelanders have the best average in the league, .276, and best OPS in MLB, at .800, despite their 4-5 record.
It also appears that Cleveland may have a COVID outbreak on its hands, as three players were rushed to the injured list this morning:
More moves for Cleveland:— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) April 20, 2022
SP Cal Quantrill, IF Owen Miller, RP Anthony Castro all to the injured list. No reason given yet. Pitchers Kirk McCarty, Tanner Tully and Enyel De Los Santos all promoted from Triple-A Columbus.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. Central, with the usual broadcast suspects. Between innings, you might work on a new sub-nickname for Cleveland. Tribe doesn’t work with Guardians, and military things like squad, platoon, and company are already in baseball use. Guardians has a bunch of definitions, yielding synonyms ranging from Defenders to Nannies. I like going legal with the Ad Litems, but the possibilities are vast.
This is a straight doubleheader, so the gamethread for the nightcap will probably be up before all of the opener coverage is published.