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Gamethread: Royals at White Sox

Kopech looks to shut down Kansas City in Chicago’s battle back in the AL Central division race

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
Michael Kopech has to muster the strength to face down K.C. for at least five tonight.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago White Sox (51-50) are officially better than .500 (again) and just two games behind the AL Central division leaders, the Minnesota Twins (53-48) — the closest the gap between the two teams has been since mid-May (internally screams). The South Siders are coming off of a key series win led by yet another dominant performance from Dylan Cease.

As the fire continues to build on the hot stove, the White Sox were relatively quiet throughout the day, outside of Jon Heyman hilariously reporting that the Sox were one of the three teams working to make a trade for Shohei Ohtani. As if Chicago’s weak farm system could sustain a trade for one of the best players the game as ever seen — let’s all take a moment to chuckle at that one.

As White Sox fans sat by and watched other World Series contenders make moves to improve their teams, Rick Hahn made did pull through with his signature move: signing a medium-washed up 35-year old to fill much needed roster holes. The White Sox needed another lefty in the arm barn, and they were able to acquire Jake Diekman from the Red Sox in exchange for Reese McGuire and a player to be named later.

Oh, and speaking of trade deadline acquisitions — Vince Velasquez is slated to begin his rehab assignment in AAA Charlotte this week, recovering from a strained groin injury. See?! No need to fret, more help to the bullpen is on the way.

Luis Robert, who has been on the IL dealing with an unknown illness, was allegedly supposed to return for this upcoming series with the Royals. Team officials originally cited lightheadedness and blurred vision, and while he was seemingly improving, Robert has since been sidelined after his one rehab start in Charlotte, and is now battling cold symptoms. Per Tony La Russa, Robert will likely not be playing this series, which is not sounding good for Luis — we just hope that it is nothing too serious and that he is able to recover quickly.

Michael Kopech (4-6) will make his 19th start of the season, and his second against Kansas City. Michael has had a couple of shaky outings over his last five starts, with an ERA of 4.56, giving up 28 hits and 13 ER over those 25 23 innings. Overall, he has been strong this season though, racking up 78 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA over 88 13 innings. Kopech’s most recent outing most resembled the best of his first half, only giving up six hits while holding the Rockies scoreless through 5 13. He continues to walk too many batters, which has been one of his main struggles this season, but hopefully he can work through a mediocre Kansas City lineup to keep the Sox on their (albeit small) upward trend.

Brad Keller was originally supposed to make the start for the Royals, however, lefthander Daniel Lynch was reinstated from the IL, pushing KC starters back a day. Over his 71 13 innings pitched, Lynch has posted a 5.05 ERA with a 4.22 FIP, pretty much in line with the MLB average. Both Lynch and Kopech rely heavily on their fastball and slider when utilizing their pitch arsenals, though Lynch has shown a bit more control, only walking 33 batters compared to Kopech’s 45.

August is here, and you know what that means? August Abreu is back in business. José has a career .335 BA, 166 RBIs, and 56 home runs in 215 total games in August. He gave Sox fans a little teaser to close out July, mashing a long ball during Sunday’s series finale against the A’s, and the team will continue to look at Abreu to be the catalyst of this lineup as we start a new division series. Eloy Jiménez has also been hot as of recent, posting a 1.000 OPS with a double and two homers over his last five games. If we can get this Eloy to stick around, that would be pretty neat.

Leury García is putting together his own mini hot streak, batting .333 over his last five, so be prepared for him to remain in the lineup for an eternity. The best thing I can say about our outfield defense is “at least we have people out there.” Typical Tony to keep one of our few actual outfielders on the bench while they are slashing .294/.400/.471 over their last five games, (cough AJ Pollock).

Let’s take a look at the Royals lineup:

Today’s game is scheduled for at 7:10 p.m. CT, and can be found in the usual places on NBCSCH and AM 1000. Go Sox!