While their manager left a city full of world-class hospitals and doctors to seek medical help elsewhere, the White Sox managed to actually win a game Wednesday night, upping their record in an August that was supposed to be the softest part of the schedule to 13-16.
That victory, given it was a game the White Sox were highly expected to win, didn’t impress the computers much, though. The Big Three predictors — FanGraphs, PECOTA and 538 — each give the Sox about a 5% chance of winning the awful AAAL Central, and about 10% to make the playoffs at all.
But it’s a new month, and the Sox have Johnny Cueto on the mound to try to start September right. Cueto and his 2.98 ERA and 3.6 WAR are about the only thing that’s kept Rick Hahn’s past year from being a total disaster.
Cueto had a terrible outing against the lowly Diamondbacks last time out, getting tagged for seven runs in five innings, but that’s the only time all season he’s given up more than three earned runs, so there’s good reason to believe it was a one-off. Sox fans sure hope so, because pitchers with last names beginning with C have been about the only pleasant upside surprises this year.
On the mound for the Royals, who somehow have won the season series with the Sox this year despite beating almost no one else, will be 29-year-old righty Daniel Mengden, who took the journey part of journeyman seriously and played in Korea last year. Mengden, who has had multiple surgeries on his arm and innards, is a September call-up, having pitched only four innings with the Royals this year and the rest of the season in Omaha, where he wasn’t any more impressive than he had been in past major league seasons (Matt Foster and Adam Haseley are Chicago’s September call-ups).
Oh, and the injured Luis Robert is off for paternity leave, and despite getting a free (non-40 man roster) replacement while he is off (less than a week, we’re told), the White Sox feel they have sufficient outfield depth to whether his absence. To be fair, Robert has essentially been absent for a week already while nursing his wrist back to health (the IL does not cost money to use, White Sox!), so they’re well-versed in hamstringing their roster.
The Royals having their Triple-A farm in Omaha leads to the question of whether their minor leaguers go to bed dreaming of the old Roger Miller refrain, “I’m the king of Kansas City, no thanks, Omaha, thanks lots.” But I digress.
Mengden will be facing a White Sox lineup that includes Leury García, presumably in a tribute by interim manager Miguel Cairo to the absent HOFBP.
Cueto takes on a Kansas City lineup in which only Salvador Pérez and Michael Taylor have more than four at-bats against him, Taylor with four K’s in six trips, so there’s not much history to go on.
First pitch is set for 1:10 p,m, Central on a hot afternoon, game time temp 86° and what tiny breeze there is heading toward left. In the continuing spirit of MLB doing everything possible to alienate fans, the only video coverage is on YouTube.
But at least if you get bored and/or angry, you can switch to a few million videos of kittens and puppies.