WHITE SOX (35-37) AT RANGERS (40-35)
8:05 p.m. ET; FSSW, NBCSCH, MLB.TV
Two improved teams making playoff pushes meet for the first time in 2019 when the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers open a three-game series Friday night at Arlington, Texas.
Both teams are coming off series splits against 2018 playoff clubs, with the White Sox winning one of two against the rival Chicago Cubs, while the Rangers went 2-2 against the Cleveland Indians.
The White Sox had Thursday off. They enter the series having lost three of four, which has dropped them to 35-37.
That nonetheless remains 11 games better than their 72-game mark of last season and has them positioned to make a run at their first postseason appearance since 2008.
“At this point of the season, I would say this team is a contender,” White Sox newcomer James McCann told reporters after Wednesday’s 7-3 loss to the Cubs. “Who knows what’s going to happen down the road? We are one or two pieces away from making a big-time statement in this division.”
Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (4-7, 6.31) will try to get the White Sox off to a winning start at Texas. The 25-year-old has won just once in his last six starts and is coming off an 8-4 loss to the New York Yankees in which he was rocked for five runs in six innings.
He has gone 2-1 in his career against the Rangers with a 3.86 ERA in three starts.
This time, Lopez will faced a Rangers team that is 40-35, a nine-game improvement after 75 games over last season in their quest to earn a playoff spot for the first time since 2016.
The Rangers will counter with right-hander Ariel Jurado (4-3, 4.23), who will face the same team he met for his major league debut in May 2018. The 23-year-old took the loss in that game, charged with four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
It’s the only time he has faced the White Sox.
On Thursday, when they announced a major reshuffling of their pitching staff, the Rangers got eight strong innings from left-hander Mike Minor in a 4-2 win over the Indians.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward announced before the game that the club had designated veteran Drew Smyly for assignment and demoted Wednesday starter Joe Palumbo to Triple-A.
Meanwhile, versatile Jesse Chavez has been promoted to the starting staff, while left-handers Kyle Bird and Locke St. John were summoned from the minors to join the bullpen.
Bird and St. John will be available for duty in the series opener Friday, while Chavez has been penciled in to start Tuesday against Detroit.
“He has done a great job for us,” Woodward said of Chavez. “The fact that we were able to extend him out the last two times, he’ll be able to throw 75-80 pitches the next time out, which is nice. At least it won’t be a two- to three-inning start. It will actually be a legitimate start. I love him in the bullpen, but we can use him in the rotation.”
Bird has previous big-league experience, while St. John, should he get called out of the bullpen, would be the ninth pitcher to make his major league debut for the Rangers this season.
–Field Level Media