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Lopez to revisit MLB roots with start in DC

Banuelos to be skipped; Draft prep heats up; prospect watch
@scottmerkin
June 2, 2019

CHICAGO -- It would have been fitting if Reynaldo Lopez and Max Scherzer could have opened the two-game series between the White Sox and Nationals Tuesday night at Nationals Park. Scherzer was the most profound influence on the young right-hander when they were teammates with Washington, before Lopez was traded

CHICAGO -- It would have been fitting if Reynaldo Lopez and Max Scherzer could have opened the two-game series between the White Sox and Nationals Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

Scherzer was the most profound influence on the young right-hander when they were teammates with Washington, before Lopez was traded to the White Sox on Dec. 7, 2016, in a trade that also sent Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning to Chicago.

“He taught me a lot, helped me a lot, especially about how to use my fastball effectively. How to change the hitter’s eye level,” said Lopez through interpreter Billy Russo, prior to Chicago's 2-0 victory over Cleveland on Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Box score

While Scherzer started Sunday against the Reds, it will be Lopez taking the mound for the White Sox on Tuesday. Lopez made 11 appearances, including six starts, for the Nationals in 2016, and he will be facing his former team for the first time.

Lopez has a 3-1 record with a 5.21 ERA lifetime at Nationals Park. And while his ERA sits at 6.20 in a rough 12-start stint to open the 2019 season, Lopez deems himself a much improved pitcher from his rookie year.

“I have more experience, of course. I know how to control my emotions better,” Lopez said. “When I first started in the Majors, because I wanted to impress, I was overexcited every time.

“Now I can control the scene better. I’m a way, way better pitcher right now than the pitcher I used to be a few years ago.

“It’s going to be emotional for me,” added Lopez of facing the Nationals. “They were the team that signed me and gave me the chance to play at this level.”

Banuelos being skipped

With off-days scheduled for Monday and Thursday, the White Sox can maneuver their rotation a bit. Dylan Covey follows Lopez to the mound, working on regular rest Wednesday after his start on Friday. No starters have been announced for Kansas City, but the rotation figures to be Ivan Nova on Friday, Lucas Giolito on Saturday and Lopez on Sunday.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria announced Manny Banuelos, who earned the win Thursday over Cleveland, will be skipped this time through the rotation.

Dylan Cease, the No. 22 prospect overall per MLB Pipeline, last started for Triple-A Charlotte on May 29. The right-hander has a 3.26 ERA over nine starts, with 54 strikeouts in 47 innings, and figures to join the White Sox rotation before the All-Star break.

White Sox ready at No. 3

The White Sox pick at No. 3 and No. 45 during Monday’s first night of the 2019 MLB Draft, with numerous members of the front office putting in countless hours preparing for another round of important picks in Year 3 of the rebuild. Renteria and his staff have looked at some of the players on the organization’s radar, but they will not be involved Monday night.

“Scouting is very difficult,” Renteria said. “Evaluating and making decisions on people that are going to be joining the organization, and [who will] hopefully [be] providing some future help in a positive way.

“I wouldn’t want to do that, so I tip my hat to them and all the time they put in. Hopefully, we make the best decisions possible and we get them in the system and continue to develop them.”

Monthly honors

Double-A Birmingham outfielder Luis Robert has been named the White Sox Minor League Player of the Month for May, his second straight monthly honor, and Birmingham left-hander Kyle Kubat has been named Pitcher of the Month as voted by a panel of Chicago-area media members.

Robert, 21, batted .311 with 12 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 14 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 16 runs scored, a .360 on-base percentage and .524 slugging percentage over 26 games in May with the Barons. Kubat, 26, went 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA, 28 strikeouts, a .224 opponents’ average and 0.97 WHIP over six starts in May for the Barons.

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