There’s a lot to be said for experience. But there’s also a lot to be said for the excitement of the uncertain.
The Chicago White Sox have a blend of veteran and youthful starting pitchers. With first place in the American League Central all but wrapped up, manager Tony La Russa can send the likes of Dallas Keuchel and Lucas Giolito to the mound while also seeing the potential of guys like Dylan Cease.
The Kansas City Royals, meanwhile, have used six different pitchers to start a game since the All-Star break. They are looking almost entirely at potential as they prepare to face the visiting White Sox for the second game of a three-game series Saturday night.
Lefty Daniel Lynch (4-3, 4.47 ERA), one of the most promising of Kansas City’s youthful starters, will get the ball against right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (3-1, 1.54).
The Royals won the series opener 7-2 on Friday behind a strong starting effort by another one of their young arms, Carlos Hernandez, who allowed two runs on five hits over six innings.
“I love watching these guys pitch,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said Friday. “They continue to impress us when we give them opportunities.
“They all have some significant growth assignments, things they were missing in their game that they needed to develop, whether that’s an extra pitch or a philosophy. We want to win every game, but asking them to (work on those things) in real time in major league competition, it’s fun to see them take those steps forward.”
La Russa has the advantage of a 9 1/2-game cushion in the AL Central standings, but he agreed with Matheny.
“I enjoy both of them,” he said. “I love watching a veteran pitch and watching a young guy like Cease. I agree with Mike; you look forward to watching them grow. The one thing that’s nice is the mentoring system. When you have veterans like we have, it’s a very healthy situation for the young guys who don’t have all the answers who are open-minded.
“The plus that Mike is talking about is a lot of years with control and growth. So that’s exciting.”
Lopez is in between the veterans and the newbies. He made his debut in 2016, but he is enjoying his best season. His previous-best ERA was 3.91, in 2018.
Lopez has made four starts among his 14 appearances in 2021. He has faced the Royals three times this season, all in relief, going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA (one earned run in four innings). In his career, he is 5-3 with a 5.00 ERA in 16 appearances (13 starts) against Kansas City.
Lynch is the embodiment of Matheny’s comment about working on things. He arrived in the majors in early May, and he made three ineffective starts, going 0-2 with a 15.75 ERA.
But he went back to Triple-A Omaha and figured it out. Since returning July 25, he has been exceptional: 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in seven starts. The Royals won six of those games.
The White Sox have seen both versions of Lynch. He allowed eight runs in two-thirds of an inning in his second start. But in his third start after returning, he allowed just one run in five innings, walking two and striking out seven in an Aug. 5 win.
The new version of Lynch has been something to make Matheny smile.
“Whenever we throw one of (our promising young pitchers) out there, we believe we have a great chance to win,” Matheny said.
–Field Level Media