RECORDS: White Sox 29-30 Nationals 26-33
GAMETIMES: Tuesday 6:05, Wednesday 12:05
TV: WGN Tuesday, NBCSN Wednesday
WHAT A BUNCH OF CLOWNS: Federal Baseball
PROBABLE WHITE SOX LINEUP
Leury Garcia – CF
Yoan Moncada – 3B
Jose Abreu – 1B
James McCann – C
Tim Anderson – SS
Eloy Jimenez – LF
Charlie Tilson – RF
Yolmer Sanchez – 2B
PROBABLE NATS LINEUP
Trea Turner – SS
Adam Eaton – RF
Anthony Rendon – 3B
Juan Soto – LF
Howie Kendrick – 2B
Matt Adams – 1B
Victor Robles – CF
Yan Gomes – C
Within touching distance now of .500, the Sox head to the nation’s capital for a series that will be over in a matter of 20 hours or so. Such is the “beauty” of interleague play, which will also leave the Sox with two off-days in the same week, which is much preferable to having another one in August I’m sure. The Sox could leave and be heading to KC with an above-water mark, and you would think the Nationals would be the perfect candidate for that kind of propulsion. However, the lights may just be starting to flicker on for the Nats, though there’s still a long way to go.
Since getting domed in Queens by the Mets for four straight, and being right around where the Marlins are which is how you definitely know you should have taken a right at Albuquerque, the Nationals have taken seven of nine as the schedule has unquestionably lightened up on them. In that span they’ve gotten to play the Marlins, Braves, and Reds, though the latter two aren’t pushovers.
The bats have seem to awakened a bit for Washington, as other than Turner and Robles everyone has turned on the past two weeks. Juan Soto especially has been a beacon of destruction of late.
The rotation is always going to be good, and the Sox will only have to see one-third of the magic troika at the top in the form of Stephen Strasburg. Max Scherzer is basically running the team now and struck out 15 Reds on Sunday, so the Sox will avoid that hell. Anibal Sanchez has lost all of the control that made him special, or at least good, in the past but remains behind the first three due to a lack of other options. Show some patience there.
The bullpen has been where the real issues are, as the Nationals have been unable to find any bridge to closer Sean Doolittle all season, and basically last as well. They can’t even find a float there. No one other than Doolittle is carrying an ERA under 4.50, and you know it’s bad when one of your relievers keeps ending up on Deadspin for his performance as Trevor Rosenthal managed. Of late, Matt Grace and Tanner Rainey have managed to at least to keep fires from becoming infernos, though a heavy use of Rainey last week sent more quizzical looks at manager Dave Martinez. There’s still a lot of gasoline here.
The Nationals shouldn’t be here, and are another bad week or two from either firing Martinez, blowing it all up and selling at the deadline, or both. This team’s cycle seems like it’s on the back side if not at the end, though they’re paying those three pitchers so much you feel like they always have to go for it. Still feels like something broke here though that can’t be fixed for a while.
For the Sox, they’re going to do everyone a favor and use the extra off-day to skip Manny Banuelos in the rotation and keep the air somewhat breathable. Lopez will be happy to see May over, and will face the team that sent him to the Sox for the first time. Covey will attempt to build on a win for the first time since dinosaurs, or so it seemed, with that coming on Friday vs. Cleveland.
Not that the Sox have that big of aims for this year, but seven games against the sputtering Nats and unfortunate Royals this close to .500 is pretty enticing.