CHICAGO -- The postponement of Game 4 between the White Sox and Astros in the American League Division Series on Monday won’t change the White Sox starting pitching plans.
“Lance was actually in spikes and uniform in the bullpen last night,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “... Best case, Carlos gives us enough to where we just use the bullpen that showed up last night.”
Michael Kopech followed Dylan Cease to the mound in Sunday’s 12-6 victory. But after throwing 47 pitches, the right-hander wasn’t available Monday and won’t be on the list Tuesday as well. La Russa added every other reliever is good to go, including Ryan Tepera, who threw two perfect innings as part of 16 straight batters retired by the White Sox to close out their first win of the series.
“It's a brotherhood out there. You know, every guy is pulling for each other,” said White Sox left-hander Aaron Bummer, who fanned four over 1 2/3 innings Sunday. “Playoffs come around. The end of the season came around, the egos went out the window, and we're all pulling for the same common goal to go out and throw up zeros.
“To see the guys go out there and do their thing the way they did last night, that's definitely a boost moving forward, and hopefully we can continue to do that tomorrow. And then when we get to Game 5, we'll get to Game 5, and hopefully do the same thing there.”
Rodón finished the season with a 13-5 record, 2.37 ERA and 185 strikeouts over 132 2/3 innings. When healthy, Rodón has been one of the game’s best starters. But in jumping from 42 1/3 innings combined over the 2019-20 seasons to his total this year, Rodón has encountered shoulder soreness and fatigue, limiting him to 18 innings pitched over four September starts.
Velocity also has dipped for Rodón. His last start on Sept. 29 against the Reds featured his fastball maxing out at 92.7 mph, per Statcast, and averaging 90.9 mph, which was down 4.5 mph from his season average. Rodón, however, has been throwing over the past week and is feeling progressively better.
“Velocity has been a big plus, and Carlos can go from 94, 95 to 98, 99 with command, but guys pitch effectively with 92 or 93 if you move the ball around and you have a breaking ball and changeup,” La Russa said. “It would be better, the more velocity he has ... the better his chances are of getting a lineup like [the Astros] out.
“He is saying that he feels better, and the way he explains it … I think we'll have more than he did that last game against Cincinnati. If he has more and he is throwing in the middle of the plate, it's not better than if he had less and was hitting his spot. That's why it's pitching, not throwing.”
Lucas Giolito and Lynn would be rested and ready for a Game 5 start on Wednesday night in Houston if necessary.
The intense blackout crowd of 40,288 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday even impressed Houston manager Dusty Baker.
“That was pretty cool, actually. It was different than Wrigley Field’s vibe and atmosphere,” Baker said. “That's the most people I've ever seen ... at this park. If I wasn't playing a game, I would have enjoyed myself being here at this park. I don't know if I have an all black outfit or not, but I would have probably gotten one.”
La Russa reiterated Monday how impressed he was by almost the entire crowd staying until the very end of a nearly 4 1/2-hour contest. It was the White Sox first home playoff game since a 2008 Division Series contest against the Rays and ended a streak of four straight playoff losses overall.
“When you mention the crowd to me, all I can think about is how amazing they were and the support and the adrenaline that they helped our club with,” La Russa said. “I'm just hoping -- I don't know if they can take time off and then get here at 1:00 tomorrow or not. I hope they can.”