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Sox bats go cold as Covey takes loss in KC

Questions remain about right-hander's future role
MLB.com @scottmerkin

KANSAS CITY -- Is he a starter or is he a reliever?

That question has been asked often of White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey, who has experienced some success in both roles but also had his fair share of struggles across the board. Covey should get a chance for three more starts in 2018 due to Michael Kopech being placed on the 60-day disabled list, with Tommy John surgery apparently imminent due to a significant tear of his ulnar collateral ligament announced Friday, and Covey began that journey with a 6-3 loss to the Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

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KANSAS CITY -- Is he a starter or is he a reliever?

That question has been asked often of White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey, who has experienced some success in both roles but also had his fair share of struggles across the board. Covey should get a chance for three more starts in 2018 due to Michael Kopech being placed on the 60-day disabled list, with Tommy John surgery apparently imminent due to a significant tear of his ulnar collateral ligament announced Friday, and Covey began that journey with a 6-3 loss to the Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

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Covey didn't exactly get crushed, but he still allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three in 74 pitches.

"I feel like the line is not indicative of how I felt, or how I threw," Covey said. "I put myself in a hole that third inning with a leadoff single and the walk. But they did a good job of getting them over and putting pressure on us to make some plays."

"His stuff looked pretty good, the action was good," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He's been relieving, but all and all he held his own."

Video: CWS@KC: Delmonico dives, crashes into wall for catch

Tuesday marked Covey's 30th career start. In that time, the right-hander has a 4-18 record with a 6.71 ERA. As a reliever, Covey has a 1-2 mark with a 5.01 ERA in 12 appearances. Those splits appear far more pronounced in 2018, where Covey is 4-11 with a 6.09 ERA over 18 starts and 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA during six games as a reliever.

His numbers also are a bit skewed considering Covey finished 0-7 with a 7.71 ERA in 2017 as a Rule 5 Draft selection who by his own admission was overmatched. In '18, as a starter, he picked up a 1-0 victory over Boston and Chris Sale at Fenway Park and followed up that shutout effort by defeating the Indians.

Clearly, the ability is there. It's just a matter of figuring out what role suits Covey best and suits a future contending White Sox team best as well.

"Minus a few things I threw the ball decent today," Covey said. "Obviously you don't ever want to give up six runs, [but I] feel like I did a good job trying to minimize in the third. Minimizing has been my issue in the past. I feel like I did it today, but things didn't kind of go my way."

Video: CHW@KC: Anderson, Moncada combine for double play

There was little offensive support for Covey on this night, despite the White Sox scoring first in the third inning on Avisail Garcia's infield single. Brad Keller yielded four hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking two for the Royals, as the White Sox fell for a seventh straight time.

They didn't go down without a fight. Tim Anderson singled home a run in the ninth, and Yoan Moncada drew a seven-pitch walk to force home a run. But Yolmer Sanchez's pop up off of Wily Peralta left the rally three runs short.

"We gave them a little scare here in the ninth," Renteria said. "I was envisioning a big surprise from Sanchy there but it wasn't too be."

Video: CWS@KC: Anderson lines 2-out RBI single in 9th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jones returns: For the first time since June 12, Nate Jones made an appearance in a big league game. The right-hander, who has the longest White Sox service time on this current roster, threw a scoreless seventh with one strikeout and one infield hit. Renteria said before the game Jones was available, but they would be careful how they used him in a return from a pronator strain.

"During the warmups, I could start feeling the adrenaline coming on being back in a big league game," a noticeably happy Jones said. "I was lucky enough to keep those emotions under control and stuff like that. It feels good now and next step being make sure it feels good tomorrow, which I'm sure it will be.

"It's a grind whenever you go on the DL. It's a grind with all the boxes you have to check and all the exercises you have go through. But in the end it's all worth it to get back out here. It was different and it was exciting. I got that adrenaline going and that was nice too."

SOUND SMART
Covey has lost each of his last seven starts against the Royals, matching Tim Belcher (1993-95) for the most consecutive losing starts vs. the Royals all-time.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Veteran reliever Rob Scahill made his first big league appearance since July 21, 2017. He was pitching for Milwaukee against the Phillies at that point. Scahill pitched a perfect eighth on Tuesday.

HE SAID IT
"We don't look pretty right now, but hopefully we catch our breath here and kind of turn it around a little bit." -- Renteria, on his team's seven-game losing streak

UP NEXT
Left-hander Carlos Rodon (6-5, 3.11 ERA) is scheduled to make his 17th start of the season in Wednesday's season finale against the Royals. Rodon is 3-2 with a 4.22 ERA, a .191 opponents' average and 1.16 WHIP allowed over his last five starts (three quality). Eric Skoglund starts for the Royals in the 7:15 p.m. CT contest at Kauffman Stadium.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Dylan Covey