It’s a time of scary transition in the halls of 35th & Shields. Beyond the standard preparations for the end of a season, the front office is gearing to buy an offense (the whole package, like in one of those bundle deals Comcast tries to goad people into), a 15-year veteran and captain is trying to figure out if there’s any point to keep going, and the manager of this entire fracas is wondering which members of his coaching staff will have to fall on the sword this off-season.
Only big-time, big-market teams with actual ambitions get to talk about distractions, but these are distractions! This is distracting. Into this clubhouse full of ancillary concerns steps young Erik Johnson, making his fifth career major league start and seeking to save the White Sox from an 100-loss season.
It’s hard to know what to make of Johnson at this juncture. Partly because his demeanor on the mound is that of slightly perturbed ogre, but mostly because he’s flashed some thoroughly big-league velocity and movement on a power slider but hasn’t garnered to swing-and-miss results to verify the positive potential he shows.
Chicago White Sox Lineup:
Erik Johnson, SP
This lineup…is not an “avoid 100 losses” lineup. Not that Robin Ventura is under any particular obligation. If anything he should be looking to mix things up with expanded rosters and it’s admirable that short-term concerns are not distracting him from player development, but Leury Garcia is a leadoff man in the way that 2005 Timo Perez was a leadoff man when Scott Podsednik‘s legs were achy. Miguel Gonzalez was a backup catcher in Double-A at the start of the year and was not promoted based on merit. It’s only been two games and he went 1-7, but Avisail Garcia has looked as out of sorts at the plate in this Royals series as I’ve seen him all year.
Kansas City Royals Lineup:
Yordano Ventura, SP
Yordano Ventura can touch 100 mph and has allowed just seven hits (all singles) in all 11.1 innings of his major league career. He’s on one of those pitch counts that a precious prospect who throws really hard from a wiry little body gets put on, so if the White Sox strike out 10 times in four innings, he’ll probably exhaust his quota. Unfortunately, the Royals have the best bullpen in baseball.
Expect a brutally low-scoring game that hopefully Leury Garcia wins by running around the diamond Little League-style while throwing errors occur behind him.
Where to Watch: 6:10 pm CT on CSN Chicago and Fox Sports Kansas City
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan