The brutal and sad work of picking up the pieces and shedding others, after an absolutely rotten and embarrassing season for a franchise that takes pride in being perennially competitive, has already begun. Harold Baines will have to serve as the sole hitting coach for a game, Paul Konerko will be flooded with cheers and questions that presuppose his likely retirement, and the White Sox will try to win a game that really serves no purpose other than the thrill of winning. Their draft pick position can’t be altered, there’s no milestone to avoid, there aren’t that many people watching.
It is however, a chance to cap off a breakthrough season for Jose Quintana. The team-leader in starts needs seven innings to break the 200 plateau, and if you buy heavily into Baseball Reference’s conception of how offense-friendly U.S. Cellular Field is and how they calculate wins above replacement, he’s been the sixth-most valuable AL starter this season. Last season his promotion to the big leagues threw everyone for a loop.
Not every part of the White Sox season ending is merciful and overdue.
Chicago White Sox Lineup:
Jose Quintana, SP
It’s a changing of the guard, as Avisail Garcia takes over the cleanup position that he may or may not be suited for on a long-term basis. Or it’s simply a left-handed starter, Robin Ventura is acknowledging platoon splits (though that leaves very little explanation for Jordan Danks) and someone has to fill that enormous Conor Gillaspie-sized hole in the middle of the batting order.
Kansas City Royals Lineup:
Bruce Chen, SP
Of course Bruce Chen is starting this game. Why wouldn’t he? Is there a better symbol of inexplicable White Sox misery than the former No. 4 prospect in all of baseball? In his last three starts, Chen has failed to record an out in the sixth inning, and allowed more runs (12) than he’s recorded strikeouts (nine). As if any of that matters in regard to his ability to skewer the White Sox in parting.
Kansas City is also emptying their bench with some real aggression. I mean, Irving Falu. It just really takes you back.
In a reversal of career patterns, Paul Konerko has been absolutely brutal at U.S. Cellular Field this season, but still maintains a .316/.402/.531 line against left-handers for this awful year. One last home run off Chen for the road cannot be too much to ask, can it?
Where to Watch: 1:10 pm CT on WGN and Fox Sports Kansas City
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan