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Cesar-less Guardians head to Chicago for pivotal three-game series

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The AL Central race isn’t over yet

St Louis Cardinals v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

At worst, the AL Central was supposed to be a two-team race. The White Sox were always going to be good, but either the Twins or Guardians were meant to stick with them to the end. At best, it would have been a dramatic three-team competition from beginning to end. Neither scenario has come true, and the White Sox seem determined to end any chance of a race as soon as possible.

Chicago currently sits with the fourth-best record in the American League at 60-43, eight games up of the second-place Guardians. The Twins have long sunk to the bottom of the division to be forgotten about until their fossilized remains are turned into fuel for a flying Hummer in a few million years. The Tigers have somehow stumbled their way into third place and are disturbingly close to catching Cleveland.

Now, in theory, the Guardians could get right back into this race with a sweep this weekend. Doing so would put them five games back by Monday morning and by all means in the hunt. That’s a tall task given the talent level of the White Sox, though, and the fact that they are only getting better as their team health improves and they acquire more quality players. The Guards have managed to score a few runs off two of the three starters they’ll be facing in this series, at least. Anything is possible.

Cleveland may also get their lefty-mashing outfielder back this series. Jordan Luplow is reportedly with the team in Chicago and could be activated off the 60-day injured list as early as today. The important thing is that he’s around Saturday to face lefty Dallas Keuchel.

Cesar Hernandez will face his old team for the first time tonight as he joins the division rival White Sox after Thursday’s trade. Maybe you’ve heard of this guy already, but he already has a career-high 18 home runs through 96 games, and a slugging percentage that would be the highest of his career if it stays at .431 for the rest of the season. He is instantly tied with José Abreu for the White Sox lead in homers.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 60-43 (4th in AL)
  • Runs Scored: 504 (5th in AL)
  • Run Differential: +110 (2nd in AL)
  • Last 10: 4-6
  • Slash: .250/.332/.412
  • wOBA: .325 (4th in AL)
  • wRC+: 108 (3rd in AL)
  • ERA: 3.58 (2nd in AL)
  • SIERA: 3.70 (1st in AL)
  • K-BB%: 19.0% (1st in AL)

Projected starters

Friday, July 30, 8:10 p.m. ET: RHP Lance Lynn vs. J.C. Mejia
Lance Lynn has been remarkable in 2021. At 34 years old, the Man of a Thousand Fastballs has a 1.91 ERA and 27.4% strikeout rate in his 18 starts. He has faced Cleveland twice so far this season, striking out 10 in his first outing, but allowing three earned runs in five innings the second time around. That last start, on May 1, was one of only five times Lynn has allowed more than one run in a start this season.

Saturday, July 31, 7:10 p.m. ET: LHP Dallas Keuchel vs. Triston McKenzie
You know the deal with Dallas Keuchel by now. Get ready for slow, methodical pitching and a lot of infuriating, weakly hit ground balls. Keuchel has faced Cleveland twice as well, allowing a combined six earned runs in 11 innings.

Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, 2:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. Cal Quantrill
TBD has emerged from the void to consume our world and plunge it into the warm embrace of the ever-darkness. All hail TBD.

Hot hitters

OF, Andrew Vaughn - Rookie outfielder Andrew Vaughn couldn’t draw a walk to save his life right now, but the ways he’s hitting it doesn’t matter. In the last week, he’s gone 10-for-26 with three doubles and a home run; on the season he’s sticking around as an above-average bat after skipping Double-A and Triple-A entirely.

OF, Leury Garcia - Let’s just say it hasn’t been a great week offensively for the White Sox. Garcia is second on the team with four hits in that span, and he’s also walked three times.

Roster

Poll

How many games will the Guardians win against the White Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    3
    (8 votes)
  • 12%
    2
    (14 votes)
  • 45%
    1
    (49 votes)
  • 34%
    0
    (37 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now