A pair of teams nearing the end of disappointing seasons will try to break out of their latest ruts when the Chicago White Sox open a three-game series with the host Kansas City Royals on Monday.
Chicago (53-84) has lost five of its last six games, while the Royals (42-96) have fared much worse, dropping 15 of their last 18 to fall 54 games under .500 for the first time in franchise history.
Expected to be a playoff contender, the White Sox are a major-league-worst 15-30 since the All-Star break, resulting in the Aug. 22 dismissal of executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn.
New general manager Chris Getz has extensive history with both underachieving clubs. He was drafted by the White Sox in 2005, spending two seasons with Chicago before playing for the Royals from 2010-13.
Getz appeared in a total of 449 games with Kansas City and the White Sox before his MLB career ended in 2014 with 10 games for the Toronto Blue Jays.
One of the players Getz will attempt to rebuild the franchise around is outfielder Luis Robert Jr., who leads Chicago with 35 homers and 71 RBIs this season.
But Robert has just 20 RBIs since the All-Star break as the White Sox struggle to get runners on base for their slugger, who has missed the last two games due to a right quad cramp.
“We’re always going to err on the side of caution, especially where we’re at right now,” Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said after Robert was a late scratch from Saturday’s 10-0 loss to the Tigers. “We want him in there. He means a heck of a lot to this lineup on both sides of the ball. But there’s no need to rush (him) back.”
Right-hander Jesse Scholtens (1-6, 3.97 ERA) will take the mound for Chicago on Monday as he makes his first career appearance against the Royals.
In his most recent outing, Scholtens allowed one run on six hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Orioles last Tuesday in a no-decision. He hasn’t won since June 25.
Left-hander Cole Ragans (5-4, 3.27) will start for the Royals. He allowed one unearned run across five innings in his only previous start against the White Sox, settling for a no-decision on Aug. 4, 2022.
Ragans enjoyed a stellar August this season, going 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA in six starts. He recorded 53 strikeouts, the second most in a single month by a Kansas City pitcher behind only Dennis Leonard, who fanned 55 in June 1977.
Thanks to his strong performances, Ragans was named American League Pitcher of the Month.
“The strikeouts are a product of being able to get guys out in the zone,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “Some pitchers can get swing-and-miss on a chase. He can (get) swing-and-miss in the zone, and he can get chase. So, that’s an elite-level pitcher.”
Ragans logged a career-high seven innings in his last start, surrendering no runs and three hits against the Pirates last Tuesday.
“I hadn’t completed the seventh in the big leagues,” Ragans said. “So it was a big thing for me to finish that inning. The guys that are some of the best pitchers in the game, they’re going seven, eight-plus innings every time they’re out there. (I’m) just trying to do the same.”
–Field Level Media