Thursday, June 13, 2024
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MLB Preview: Chicago White Sox (53-86) at Kansas City Royals (44-96)


The Chicago White Sox have lost five straight games, 17 of their last 23 and 29 of 41 as they continue a six-game, seven-day trip tonight with the series finale at Kansas City. RHP Touki Toussaint is scheduled to start for the White Sox, who are a season-high 33 games under .500. The Sox have lost the first two games of this series and are looking to avoid being swept at Kauff man Stadium for the first time since 7/21-23/17. Following tonight’s game and a day off tomorrow, the White Sox conclude the trip this weekend with three games at Detroit (9/8-10) before returning home for three games vs. the Royals (9/11-13) and four vs. Minnesota (9/14-17). The Sox went 0-3 on their last homestand vs. Detroit from 9/1-3 and 1-2 on their last trip to Baltimore from 8/28-30.

The White Sox are 6-15 at Kauff man Stadium since 7/28/21 and have been outscored, 114-67 during that stretch. Sox starting pitchers own an 8.23 ERA (75 ER/82.0 IP) over the last 18 games. Elvis Andrus is hitting .370/.400/.568 (30-81) with seven doubles, three homers and 17 RBI over his last 21 games. Andrew Benintendi needs one double for 200 career. Yoán Moncada has reached base safely in 15 straight games and is hitting .349/.393/.554 (29-83) with eight doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI over his last 24. Luis Robert Jr. who is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing five games with right quad cramping, is hitting .450 (9-20) with four multihit eff orts over his last six.

The White Sox have sent LHP Garrett Crochet (left shoulder inflammation) to Class AA Birmingham on a rehab assignment. Crochet has been on the 15-day injured list since 6/20 (retro to 6/17) … he made four appearances each with Birmingham and Class AAA Charlotte on his first assignment from 7/2-20. C Seby Zavala, who was DFA by the White Sox on Tuesday, has been claimed off waivers by Arizona.

Maikel García scored the game-ending run on Gregory Santos’ balk with two outs in the ninth inning, as Kansas City completed a rally from a six-run deficit to defeat the White Sox, 7-6. The White Sox scored five runs in the second on Yoán Moncada’s two-run homer (No. 6) off Brady Singer and Korey Lee’s first MLB home run, a three-run shot off Singer … Andrew Vaughn, Lee’s college roommate at Cal, hit his career-high 18th home run in the third, a solo shot off Singer. Dylan Cease posted a ND, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits over 5.1 IP … Bryan Shaw (second hold) and Aaron Bummer (12th hold) each threw 1.1 scoreless IP … Santos (2 UER/0.2 IP) recorded his second loss and fourth blown save. Moncada reached base safely for the 15th straight game … Luis Robert Jr. (right quad) was out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game. The White Sox suffered their MLB-high 46th loss of the season after leading and eighth when leading after eight innings.

The White Sox currently have 10 rookies on the active roster: RHPs Declan Cronin, Edgar Navarro, Lane Ramsey, Gregory Santos and Jesse Scholtens, LHP Sammy Peralta, C Korey Lee, INFs Zach Remillard and Lenyn Sosa and OF Oscar Colás. Per STATS, the 10 rookies are tied with Kansas City and Oakland for second-most in MLB behind Pittsburgh (12).

The Royals lead the season series, 5-4 … Kansas City has won fi ve of the six games at Kauff man Stadium by a combined 46-19 margin, and the White Sox swept a three-game series at home from 5/19-21 by a 12-3 margin. The Sox are hitting .224/.269/.339 (64-286) with a 5.38 ERA (46 ER/77.0 IP) and have been outscored, 49-32. The White Sox 22-25 against the Royals since 2021 after going 9-1 in 2020.

The White Sox are 19-22 against the American League Central this season, including a 12-7 at home and 7-15 on the road. The White Sox posted a losing record (37-39) against the division in 2022 after combining to go 69-47 in 2020-21.

Is scheduled to make his 12th start (16th appearance) of the season and sixth (eighth) at home. Owns a 2-6 record with a 4.87 ERA (33 ER/61.0 IP), .215 (47-219) opponents average, 41 walks and 62 strikeouts with the White Sox in 2023. Is 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA (19 ER/30.1 IP) over seven road games (five starts) this season. Has worked at least 5.0 IP in seven of his last 11 games (nine starts) … has struck out 46 during that span. Is limiting left-handed hitters to a .205/.357/.336 25-122) slash line with 27 walks and 25 strikeouts this year. Has limited right-handers to a career .223/.336/.363 (109-488) slash line, while lefties have hit .237/.389/.427 (88-372) against him. Opponents are batting .217/.378/.317 (13-60) with RISP and .115/.378/.154 (3-26) with RISP/two outs in 2023. Was claimed off waivers by the White Sox on 6/20 after being designated for assignment by Cleveland on 6/17. Made his major-league debut with Atlanta on 8/13/18 vs. Miami, allowing one run on two hits over 6.0 IP. Was originally selected by Arizona in the first round (16th overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Suffered the loss on 9/1 vs. Detroit after allowing three runs on five hits with two walks, one hit batter and six strikeouts across 5.1 IP … retired 12 of the first 15 batters faced, including 11 straight after walking the bases loaded with one out in the first inning. Exited in the sixth inning with the White Sox trailing, 3-1 … Chicago lost, 4-2. Owned a 54.2 first-strike percentage and 10.6 swinging-strike percentage (11 swing and misses) vs. 24 batters … threw 94 pitches (63 strikes) with the following pitch breakdown: 45 sinkers (92.3 mph avg; 94.4 mph max), 24 curveballs (75.8 avg; 78.1 max) 18 splitters (88.1 avg; 90.3 max), four four-seam fastballs (92.6 avg; 93.8 max) and three sliders (87.3 avg; 87.9 max).

Is 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA (19 ER/30.1 IP), .208 (22-106) opponents average, 28 walks and 29 strikeouts on the road this year. Has allowed at least one home run in each of his last three road starts, going 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA (12 ER/15.1 IP). Is 3-6 with a 5.98 ERA (70 ER/105.1 IP), .241 (94-390) opponents average, 72 walks and 110 strikeouts lifetime away from home.

Will be making his 35th career start and 12th this year (11th with Chicago). Has gone 7-14 with a 5.43 ERA (95 ER/157.1 IP), .234 (136-581) opponents average, 96 walks and 165 strikeouts in his 34 career starts (five quality), compared to a 5-0 record with a 4.75 ERA (41 ER/77.2 IP) in 38 career relief appearances. Is 2-7 with a 5.54 ERA (32 ER/52.0 IP) in his 11 starts this year.

Is holding batters to a .157/.348/.255 (8-51) slash line in his first IP this year. His .157 opponents average in the first IP ranks eighth-best in the American League (minimum 60 PA). Is limiting opponents to a .192/.332/.343 (89-463) slash line the first time through the order lifetime.

Is averaging 6.40 walks per 9.0 IP (46 BB/64.2 IP) this year, the second-highest among MLB pitchers (minimum 50.0 IP). Has walked at least one batter in 14 of his 15 appearances and four-plus in eight outings this year.

Is scheduled to make his first career appearance against Kansas City. Will mark his 27th team faced in his career … the White Sox, Dodgers and Twins are the only teams he has not faced in his career. Is 2-1 with a 7.50 ERA (10 ER/12.0 IP), .286 (14-49) opponents average, four walks and 12 strikeouts in four career appearances (three starts) against the American
League Central.


BALK OFF PART 2: The Royals scored an improbable 7-6 win over the White Sox last night on a walk-off balk, their 2nd in the last month…the Royals trailed 6-0 after the top of the 3rd inning but began chipping away at the lead with solo home runs by Nelson Velázquez and Michael Massey in the 4th and MJ Melendez in the 5th…thanks to 3.0 scoreless innings in relief by Angel Zerpa, the deficit was only 1 run in the 9th, when Bobby Witt Jr. drove in the tying run on a double…after an intentional walk to Melendez to load the bases, Gregory Santos rushed his delivery with the pitch clock winding down, which resulted in a game-winning balk. Ê Last night marked the Royals 2nd walk-off balk in franchise history, both of which have come in the last 33 games, including their 1st on Aug. 1 vs. the Mets…according to Elias, the Royals are the first team in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to have multiple wins on a walk-off balk in the same season.

DRAMA KINGS: The Royals overcame a 6-run deficit last night, matching their largest deficit overcome in a win this season, following June 17 vs. the Angels, when they trailed 8-2 after the top of the 7th, but rallied to a 10-9, walk-off win…it was also their 8th walk-off win of the season, tied for 3rd most in the Majors, trailing only Minnesota (10) and Cincinnati (10), and are their most in a season since 2017 (8)…the Royals 8 walk-off victories account for 30.77% of their 26 wins at home, which marks the 2nd-highest rate in franchise history trailing only 2000, when they won 42 home games, including a club-record-tying 13 via walk offs (30.95%). Last night was Kansas City’s 7th win this season when trailing in the 9th inning or later, tied for 4th most in the Majors, according to Elias, trailing only Miami (9), Philadelphia (9) and Minnesota (8)…this marks the Royals most such wins since 2002 (9) and are 4 shy of the club record of 11 such wins, done in 1970. The Royals have 18 comeback wins this season, which are 4 fewer than the Padres for the fewest in the Majors…only 6 of their 18 wins (33.3%) through June 16 were of the comeback variety, but since June 17—when they overcame a 6-run deficit in the 7th inning to beat the Angels—12 of the Royals last 26 wins (46.2%) have been comebacks, a stretch in which 6 of those 12 comeback wins have been walk offs.

SEPTEMBER SLUGGERS: The Royals ended the month of August by getting swept in back-to-back series by Seattle and Pittsburgh, including a 3-game set vs. the Pirates in which they scored just 4 runs on 12 hits…but since the calendar flipped to September, the Royals offense has been among the best in the Majors, as they lead all 30 teams in total bases (111), extra-base hits (26), batting average (.333) and OPS (.990), and rank tied for 2nd with 8.0 runs per game…they’ve also hit a whopping 11 home runs through 5 games this month, matching their homer total from their previous 15 games combined…the Royals have scored at least 1 run in 19 of their 43 half-innings on offense this month (44.2%), including a run in 5 of their 9 offensive innings last night.

WOAH, NELLY!: Nelson Velázquez hit 1 of Kansas City’s 3 home runs in last night’s comeback win, marking his 11th home run in 35 games in the Majors this season, including 8 home runs and a .936 OPS in just 22 games since joining the Royals…home runs have accounted for 44.0% of his 25 hits in the Majors this season, including 8 of his 18 hits (44.4%) with Kansas City…in fact, 16 of his 25 hits (64.0%) have gone for extra bases, which is the highest rate in the Majors (min. 25 hits), ahead of Joey Gallo (62.0%) and Patrick Wisdom (60.4%). Velázquez has homered in consecutive games four times this season—three times with the Royals— including April 27-28, Aug. 11-12, Aug. 16-17 and Sept. 5-6…he has never homered in 3 consecutive games. Among players with at least 100 plate appearances this season, Velázquez’s .936 OPS ranks 11th in MLB.

SERIES SPEAKING: The Royals have won consecutive games for the first time since their season-high 7-game win streak from July 28-Aug. 4, snapping a 6-21 skid in between…last night’s victory also clinched their first series win since a 3-game sweep of the Mets from Aug. 1-3, snapping a drought of nine winless sets in between, in which they lost eight and split one…tonight the Royals seek their third series sweep of the season, and the previous two came in back-to-back sets from July 28-Aug. 3 vs. the Twins and Mets…with a win tonight, the Royals would sweep the White Sox for the first time since a 4-game sweep from July 15-18, 2019.

ON DECK: The Royals will enjoy an off day tomorrow, on which they’ll travel to Toronto before beginning a 3-game series this weekend with the Blue Jays…that trip will continue with a 3-game series next week in Chicago vs. these White Sox…the Royals are winless in their last 15 road series—including 13 losses and two splits—since they won 2 of 3 in San Diego from May 15-17…they’ll be seeking their first winning road trip since June 13-22, 2022, when they went 5-4 on a West Coast swing to San Francisco (1-2), Oakland (2-1) and Anaheim (2-1)…they’ve had 17 winless road trips since, including 14 losing trips and three in which they split. Ê This 9-game, 10-day stay marks the third-to-last homestand of the year, including a 6-game stretch from Sept. 15-20 vs. Houston and Cleveland and a 3-game set vs. the Yankees to end the regular season from Sept. 29-Oct. 1…including tonight, there are only 10 home games remaining on the Royals 2023 schedule.

REHABBING ROYALS: Nick Pratto went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI and played all 9.0 innings at first base last night in his 5th rehab game of his current assignment with Triple-A Omaha…his first assignment began on Aug. 17, but he was returned a week later…he was placed on the 10-day Injured List on July 28 with a groin strain. Ê Brad Keller earned the win with 2.0 scoreless innings on Monday night with Double-A Northwest Arkansas…it was his 8th appearance—6th at Double-A—on his current rehab assignment as he works his way back from a right shoulder impingement that has sidelined him since mid May…he hasn’t allowed a run in 4 of his last 5 appearances (7.2 IP), including 4.0 scoreless frames in his last 2 outings.

30/30 VISION: Bobby Witt Jr. hit his 28th homer of the season last Friday night, which ranks tied for 6th in the American League behind Shohei Ohtani (44), Luis Robert Jr. (35), Adolis García (34), Aaron Judge (31) and Rafael Devers (29)…he also ranks 4th in the Majors with 39 stolen bases, behind Ronald Acuña Jr. (63), Esteury Ruiz (56) and Corbin Carroll (41)…Witt Jr. is now only 2 home runs shy of becoming the first player in Royals history to record 30 homers and 30 steals in a season, and he would be only the sixth player in Major League history with a 30/30 campaign in his age-23 season (or younger)…the five that have done this include Bobby Bonds in 1969, José Canseco in 1988, Álex Rodríguez in 1998, Mike Trout in 2012 and Acuña Jr. in 2019.

ARMS RACE: The Royals lead Major League Baseball with 35 outfield assists this season, which are 6 more than the Rockies (29), and are 8 more than the Guardians and Red Sox (27 each) for the American League lead…the Royals are attempting to lead the Major Leagues in outfield assists for the first time since 2011 and 2012, when they had 51 in both seasons, which were the most by any team since Cleveland had 51 in 1993. Nine different Royals have recorded an outfield assist this season, including team leader MJ Melendez, whose 10 outfield assists rank 4th in the American League, trailing Teoscar Hernández (12), Adolis García (11) and Alex Verdugo (11)


JORDAN LYLES is making his 27th start of the season and 241st start (348th appearance) of his career tonight vs. the White Sox…he was originally selected by Houston in the 1st round (38th overall) of the 2008 Draft out of Hartsville High School (S.C.), and signed a two-year contract with the Royals on Dec. 28, 2022.

LAST TIME OUT: Lyles earned his 4th win of the season in his last start on Friday night vs. Boston, in which he covered 8.0 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits (1 home run) with no walks and 7 strikeouts…he retired 21 of the first 24 batters he faced through 7.0 innings before he plunked Luis Urías with 1 out in the 8th, which was followed by a home run from Alex Verdugo…he exited in favor of Steven Cruz with the Royals leading 13-2 and threw a season-high 114 pitches, the most by a Royal since Brad Keller also threw 114 on July 9, 2021 at Cleveland.

EIGHT AND OUT: Lyles has pitched 4 games this season in which he has thrown at least 8.0 innings and received a losing decision, and is the lone pitcher in the Majors with more than 1 such outing…he’s the first pitcher with 4 such games in a season since David Price (4) in 2013, is the first Royal with 4 such games since Jose Rosado (4) in 1999 and is the first Kansas City right hander since Kevin Appier (4) in 1996. Jordan has completed 8.0 innings five times this season, which is the 2nd most such games in the Majors, behind Miami’s Sandy Alcantara (6) and the most by a Royal since Jeremy Guthrie also had 5 such outings in 2014.

YOU COMPLETE ME: Lyles’ start on Aug. 20 at Wrigley Field marked his 5th career complete game, following Aug. 9 at Boston, May 9 vs. the White Sox, Sept. 21, 2022 vs. Detroit (with Baltimore) and Sept. 30, 2012 at Milwaukee (with Houston)…his 3 complete games this season lead the American League and are tied for most in the Majors with Miami’s Sandy Alcantara…Lyles is the first Royal with 3 complete games in a season since Jeremy Guthrie also had 3 in 2013.

I GOT 5 ON IT: Lyles has completed at least 5.0 innings in 23 of his 26 starts this season, but had his 15-game streak of at least 5.0 innings snapped on Aug. 26 at Seattle…his 15 straight starts of 5.0 innings pitched from May 20-Aug. 20 was the longest such streak by a Royals pitcher since Brad Keller pitched 5.0 innings in 15 consecutive starts from May 7-July 21, 2021…Lyles is one of nine American League pitchers to have pitched 5.0 innings in 15 consecutive starts this season.

TROUBLE WITH THE LONG BALL: He has allowed at least 1 home run in 19 of his 26 starts this season for a total of 34 homers in 150.1 innings pitched, which leads the American League and ranks 2nd most in the Majors behind Lance Lynn (37)…his 34 home runs allowed are the most by a Royal since Ian Kennedy (34) in 2017…Lyles has allowed multiple home runs in 11 of his 26 starts this season, which is tied for the most such games in the Majors and tied for the most such games in franchise history.

THE ONE BAD INNING: Lyles avoided the “one bad inning” trend in his last start vs. Boston, allowing just 2 runs in 8.0 innings…he has allowed at least 3 runs in a single frame in 14 of his 26 starts (15 instances)…Lyles has been charged with 61 runs (58 ER) in those 15 frames for a 34.80 ERA, which accounts for more than half of the 105 earned runs he’s allowed this year…if you set aside those 15 frames, Jordan has recorded a 2.46 ERA in his remaining 135.1 innings.

IRON MAN: The Royals are the eighth club Lyles has pitched for during his 13-year career that has included stops with Houston (2011-13), Colorado (2014-17), San Diego (2017-18), Milwaukee (2018-19), Pittsburgh (2019), Texas (2020-21), Baltimore (2022) and Kansas City (2023)…since the start of the 2021, his 509.1 innings pitched ranks 4th in the AL behind Gerrit Cole (562.0 IP), José Berríos (528.0 IP) and Framber Valdez (510.2 IP)…Lyles’ 88 starts since the start of 2021 ranks 5th among American League pitchers, trailing leader Dylan Cease (93). Ê During his 13 seasons, he has only been placed on the IL five times: June 10-29, 2019 (left hamstring tightness), March 28-April 4, 2019 (right side discomfort), June 24-July 29, 2018 (right elbow inflammation), June 1-end of season, 2015 (sprained left big toe) and June 5-Aug. 6, 2014 (fractured left hand).

VS. WHITE SOX: Jordan has made 9 appearances (7 starts) vs. the White Sox in his career, in which he’s 1-5 with a save and a 4.74 ERA (23 ER in 43.2 IP)…Lyles last faced the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 9 and was dealt the loss despite tossing a complete game and allowing 4 runs on 6 hits with 6 strikeouts. In his last 3 starts against the White Sox, he is 0-2 but has recorded a 3.86 ERA (9 ER in 21.0 IP) and has limited them to a .244 opponents’ average (19-for-78)

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