The good news is that Luis Robert Jr.’s calf injury from the Home Run Derby turned out very minor, and he’s back in the White Sox lineup. The bad news is that it’s still the White Sox lineup, all of the rest of which doesn’t come close to the WAR — f or b — of Luis alone, even if you leave out the guys with negatives.
The even worse news is that they’re playing the best and hottest team in baseball. In Atlanta. Where the Braves have a 10-game winning streak.
If this were a movie, some middle-schooler would run through the gift shop and grab a uniform and pitch and hit the Sox to a huge upset victory. Unfortunately, because the game’s in Atlanta, the gift shop probably doesn’t have White Sox uniforms, so that’s out, and it will just be the usual guys.
On the mound for the White Sox will be Michael Kopech, fresh off the IL, where he’s spent time with either shoulder inflammation or or strikezoneunfindabilitis, take your pick.
After a rough start to the season, Kopech had seemed to recover in mid-May and breezed through most of the games when he didn’t have to face Shohei Ohtani. Then came mid-June and an inability to have any idea where the ball was going, with 16 walks in 12 innings in his last three starts before the IL trip.
To make things even more difficult, Charlie Morton will be tossing for the Braves. The 39-year-old righty is wearing his age well, with a 9-6 record and 3.43 ERA and 111 K’s in 97 innings. The only Sox batter who has faced him much is Andrew Benintendi, who has done well: 7-for-25 with more homers (2) in those 25 trips than he’s had this season.
Benintendi will be in the leadoff spot, followed, for reasons known only to Pedro Grifol, by Tim Anderson, who has the worst offensive stats of any MLB regular.
Kopech will be facing a Braves lineup that has the highest OPS in MLB by 30 points (and .145 higher than the White Sox, but who’s counting?). If there’s a weak link, it’s well-hidden.
The Braves are humongous favorites, but there’s a reason they actually play the games. Besides, you saw those movies, right?
First pitch is scheduled for 6:20 p.m. Central, with the temps pushing 90° and light wind in Atlanta. Usual broadcast suspects.