Getting close to time to prove something – Game Preview & Lineups 5/21

If offered the opportunity at the beginning of the year to be transported to a reality where on May 21, they had a 25-17 record, the White Sox–a collective monolith and consciousness in this hypothetical–would gleefully take it, laugh and celebrate their great fortune, and pensively, but not fearfully inquire at what crimes needed committing to seal this pact.

But the order in which they have come to this 1.5 game lead in the AL Central is causing anxiety. Possibly because it was a five-game lead just a minute ago, possibly because the surging second-place Cleveland Indians were picked by many, PECOTA included, to be their betters and currently have a superior run differential, and possibly because, well, no one in the White Sox starting rotation not named Chris Sale or Jose Quintana has looked capable of turning over a major league lineup twice, which is necessary on most days.

Miguel Gonzalez enters the fray for the fourth time this season, once again looking for a foothold at the fifth starter slot. He enters with a 5.17 ERA, and an even more discouraging 19 hits, 11 strikeouts and 10 walks across 15.1 innings. This is the product of him mostly getting shelled in Toronto but perhaps squeezing more innings out of it than your typical shelling, a borderline gem in Texas that benefitted greatly from a well-time sixth-inning pull, and a disasterpiece in New York where he issued five walks over one strikeout to a bad Yankees offense.

You watch Gonzalez and you see a low-90s fastball with nice sinking action, a slider that flashes average and can get a whiff here or there if the count and the location are right, but you also see a guy who is vacillates between frustrating nibbling and awful mistakes in the zone. The Sox don’t have many options right now–as evidence by Gonzalez going right back in after that Yankees mess–but he needs to start putting together his intriguing ingredients into a palatable meal, in order to get himself off the top of the list of guys to be replaced with a trade acquisition.

Speaking of back of the roster players getting a chance to star, Jerry Sands is batting cleanup and starting at first, as manager Robin Ventura tries to achieve three ends at once: rest Jose Abreu, give a day off to the slumping Avisail Garcia, and give Sands (a career .287/.339/.485 hitter versus lefties) an opportunity to shine against a rare in-division matchup with a lefty starter.

In roster news, Ventura said Jake Petricka is still experiencing soreness in his hip, and while he did not offer a timeline, he does not expect him to return after the minimum 15 days of his disabled list stint. Mike Moustakas returns to the Royals lineup after breaking his thumb. He remains second on the team in homers and slugging percentage despite the absence.

White Sox Lineup:

  1. Adam Eaton – RF
  2. Jose Abreu – DH
  3. Todd Frazier – 3B
  4. Jerry Sands – 1B
  5. Melky Cabrera – LF
  6. Brett Lawrie – 2B
  7. Austin Jackson- CF
  8. Dioner Navarro – C
  9. Tyler Saladino – SS

SP – Miguel Gonzalez

Royals Lineup:

  1.  Alcides Escobar – SS
  2. Mike Moustakas – 3B
  3. Lorenzo Cain – CF
  4. Eric Hosmer – 1B
  5. Kendrys Morales – DH
  6. Alex Gordon – LF
  7. Salvador Perez – C
  8. Whit Merrifield – 2B
  9. Jarrod Dyson – RF

SP – Danny Duffy

The game is at 1:10pm CT on CSN.

Lead Image Credit: Anthony Gruppuso // USA Today Sports Images

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