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Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox
José Abreu looks on prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field on Oct. 5, 2022.
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

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Gamethread: Astros at White Sox (in rain delay, but plan to play)

Welcome back, Pito?

It is a rainy May Friday in Chicago, as the White Sox welcome old friend José Abreu back to town to take on his Houston Astros. OK, “welcome” and “old friend” might be doing a lot of the work in that statement. While we still love José, there is no love for those unrepentant cheaters around these parts. Oh Pito, why did you have to go there, of all places? Insert sad-face emoji here ...

These White Sox haven’t fared particularly well in Abreu’s absence, sitting at 13-26 entering play today. To this point Abreu hasn’t performed much better himself, batting a meager .218 with a .525 OPS in 151 plate appearances in 2023. You read that right. Abreu is batting .218/.265/.261 with a .525 OPS and is yet to hit a single home run on the season. While Pito is a notorious slow starter, these are paltry numbers for even him.

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox
White Sox players look on during Tony La Russa’s retirement press conference.
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

It is probably fair to say that Abreu and the South Siders did not part on the best of terms. While the business side of baseball can be ugly at times, knowing it was probably time to move on and part ways is one thing, but showing one of your all-time greats to the door is another. Not a great look for an organization supposedly known for its loyalty. But hey, it’s not like the White Sox have a history of doing this in the past ... cough cough Frank Thomas. Abreu was loyal to this org through its phony rebuild, the Tony La Russa debacle, and flash-in-the-pan contention window. I can hardly blame Abreu for wanting to win at this stage of his career, but he still deserved better from this team. The White Sox at least have enough class to pay tribute to one of their greats on his first return visit.

The Sox and Astros last met during the season opening series in Houston, with the South Siders escaping with a series split and perhaps resuscitating the last vestiges of anything resembling a playoff-contending team as well, even if ever so briefly.

Our White Sox, fresh off losing a four-game series in Kansas City, find themselves in fourth place in the worst division in baseball. Despite having a better record than KC by one whole game, the Pale Hose might be the worst team in the division (by run differential, for one, it’s absolutely true). Seems like a fair argument after essentially being outplayed in every game of the series in KC, no?

Yeah, the White Sox are really bad.

Houston, winners of their last two and five up and five down in their last 10 games, sit 19-18 and in third place in the AL West behind the surprising Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. The Astros are still without second baseman José Altuve, who has been on the injured list all spring after suffering a thumb injury during the World Baseball Classic in March. Altuve is set to start a rehab assignment with Houston’s Triple-A affiliate tonight.

Michael Kopech (1-3, 5.97 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 36 strikeouts) takes the mound for the home team. Kopech, despite being staked to a 13-run lead early in his last start, still managed to give up four earned runs on eight hits in six innings in Chicago’s 17-4 annihilation of the Cincinnati Reds last Sunday afternoon.

Kopech relies heavily on a four-seam fastball and slider combo, mixing in his curveball and changeup only around 11% of the time, combined.

Here is how the current Astros have matched up against Michael in the past.

For the visiting Astros, J.P. France (0-0, 0.00 ERA) takes the mound to face off against the White Sox for the first time in his career. In France’s first start of 2023 last Saturday, he pitched five innings of three-hit ball against the Mariners in Seattle.

France relies on five pitches, featuring a four-seam fastball (36.9%), curveball (21.4%), cutter (16.7%), slider (15.5%), and changeup (9.5%).

The Astros are 11-7 in road games entering today’s action, while the White Sox are a very mediocre 6-10 at home.

The Sox aren’t just welcoming old friend José Abreu back to Chicago tonight, they also bring back Yoán Moncada from the injured list.

Here is tonight’s starting lineup:

And for the visiting Astros:

Ugh. Pito will never look right in that wretched Astros uniform. Lets say we welcome him home with the applause he deserves, then spoil their party with a win for the Good Guys tonight, huh? If we get this one in that is.

First pitch tonight, scheduled at 7:10 p.m. CT, will be delayed by rain. NBC Sports Chicago will have the TV call with WMVP-AM 1000 on radio.

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