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Gamethread: White Sox at Royals (opener)

If the second game of a doubleheader is a nightcap, should the first one be a dayhat?

New York Yankees v Chicago White Sox
Dylan Cease will be hard-pressed to come up with a stranger pitching line than his last time out
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The White Sox, undefeated in the JCE (Johnny Cueto Era) and now back to .500, have a chance to stretch the undefeated string to two and get on the winning side of the season with a split doubleheader in Kansas City today. As recently as yesterday, it looked like Mother Nature could wipe out both games with a fit of storms, but the severe weather now isn’t due until around the third inning of the nightcap, so the opener should get in without interference.

On paper, this should be an easy White Sox win, with Dylan Cease facing a Royals pitcher who’s one of those emergency minor league call-ups. Paper doesn’t count, though, so they’ll still play the game.

Cease, of course, is coming off a strange game where he gave up six runs in four innings to the Yankees despite striking out 11. That shouldn’t be repeated today, because if you make a mistake to much of the Yankees order the ball ends up in Indiana, whereas if you make a mistake to most of the KC order, the ball ends up in Luis Robert’s mitt.

Besides, while Cease has struggled his whole career against good teams (with occasional exceptions), he has totally dominated bad teams, and the Royals are a very bad team indeed — 28th in the majors in OPS, ahead of only Detroit and Oakland (he White Sox are 26th, but we won’t mention that).

The White Sox are starting their emergency call-up from Triple-A Charlotte, Davis Martin, in the night game, but the Royals are going with theirs this afternoon. Jonathan Heasley, a 25-year-old righty, had the dregs of a cup of coffee in the majors as a 2021 September call-up, starting three games with a degree of success that saw him sent back to Omaha to open 2022.

Heasley wasn’t really very impressive in Omaha, but desperation is desperation, so Heasley got called up last week to face the Rangers. He gave up just one run in 3 13 innings, but was in pretty constant trouble, largely due to four walks. In order to walk four White Sox in less than four innings you’d have to have a manager who was attacked by a swarm of gnats and kept trying to flick them away with four fingers inadvertently held out, so this time Heasley’s prime worry will be getting hit hard. He shouldn’t have to fret about missing the strike zone, because the White Sox are tied with the Cardinals for the worst plate discipline in MLB. (They’re actually pretty successful at making contact outside the strike zone, whether because practice makes perfect, or because Tim Anderson’s skill in that area skews the numbers).

Heasley will be facing a White Sox lineup in which the HOFBP will have all four batters who will be hitting lefty against come in a row.

The only hitter in the KC lineup who has given Cease trouble through his career is Andrew Benitendi, who’s 5-for-13. It’s basically the same lineup that Cease held to two runs and three hits in six innings on April 27, though this time without the struggling Carlos Santana.

Game time is 1:10 p.m. Central, in what is now supposed to be a pleasant afternoon, partly sunny and 80° with a light wind blowing toward left. There was a threat last night that Gordon Beckham would be taking Steve Stone’s place again today, so you may want to keep impressionable youngsters away from the TV so they don’t have their baseball futures harmed by listening to his playing advice, or their announcing futures ruined by thinking you can be incredibly boring and cornpone and still get work.