Whether or not you agreed with the strategy, a fan could reasonably understand what the HOFBP was up to when he switched around the starting pitchers for the first two games of this series from what was first listed after the surprise COVID-out. He moved Dylan Cease up to Thursday’s game and Vince Velasquez back to Friday.
That set up (a) Cease vs. an emergency Yankee starter who had a double-digit ERA in Triple-A, which should have meant a White Sox win, and (b) Velasquez as the victim of Gerrit Cole, a game the Sox would probably have lost anyway, thereby getting a split. The (b) part worked perfectly. The (a) part, not so much.
Which brings us to (c). To try to recover from two straight blowout losses, the White Sox turn to, uh, well, er, mm, Dallas Keuchel.
That may not seem encouraging at first, so we should point out that Keuchel’s 6.86 ERA is waaaaaay bettter than the 12.50 other Sox pitchers posted so far in the series. Plus, Keuchel has been a Yankees killer through his career — just a 4-4 record, but a 2.23 ERA thanks to a .218 average against and .541 OPS over nine starts.
True, eight of the nine were before his skills and results took an Acapulco-esque cliff dive last year, and in the one start vs. New York in 2021 he gave up six hits and two walks in four innings, resulting in three runs (but just one earned!). But still, there is hope, especially if the HOFBP were to finally grasp what every White Sox fan already knows, namely that when Keuchel gets close to 60 pitches, you better have someone ready to go in the pen.
There is also some hope for the offense. Jordan Montgomery will be starting for the Yankees, and he’s — yes, yes, you knew it was coming — a lefty. True, that hasn’t helped the Sox so far, since Montgomery is 2-0 lifetime against them with a 1.80 ERA, including a seven-shutout-inning, five-hit, no-walk, 11-K performance last year, but it’s the spirit of the thing.
Montgomery has had a strong start to the year, with a 2.90 ERA, .212 BAA, and 25 strikeouts versus just five walks over six starts, but he’s had good fortune in his opponents, with only Toronto sporting a winning record. Montgomery will be facing an all-righty White Sox lineup that includes the none-too-soon return of Andrew Vaughn from hjs HBP injury stint — but not lefty Gavin Sheets, who had three homers in the last four games.
Surprisingly, the Sox hitters with the most success against Montgomery are Josh Harrison (4-for-6) and Yoán Moncada (2-for-3). Tim Anderson and José Abreu have faced him the most, and are both just 2-for-9.
Keuchel will be facing much the same Yankee lineup that has scored 25 runs and knocked eight out of the park in the past two games. The southpaw also will have to try to get through the first inning without yet another opening stanza two-run homer by Giancarlo Stanton (4-for-9 lifetime against Keuchel, with two dingers).
It should be a beautiful night for baseball, 73° at the 6:10 p.m. game time, cooling down to 63, so maybe the Yankee long balls won’t be quite as long as they’d been in the warmth of Friday and Saturday. A White Sox win would bring them back to .500 and keep alive hopes for a series split, with Michael Kopech taking the mound tomorrow.
Usual broadcast suspects.