Nick Madrigal finds himself in a great position in his rookie year. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Madrigal is a regular part of the Chicago White Sox lineup, surrounded by mashers who have the White Sox in solid playoff position.
Madrigal and the White Sox will conclude a four-game series, and the season series, with the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon. Following Saturday’s 5-3 win, the White Sox are 8-1 against the Royals so far this season.
Chicago’s Dallas Keuchel (5-2, 2.42 ERA) will face Kansas City’s Matt Harvey (0-2, 14.09).
Keuchel faced the Royals (14-26) on July 31, when he allowed two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He’s 5-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 10 career starts against the Royals.
Harvey allowed two hits in 2/3 inning in his last appearance, against the White Sox, but didn’t yield a run. He’s 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA (16 2/3 innings) in three appearances (two starts) against the White Sox (23-15) in his career. But this season has been a struggle.
Royals manager Mike Matheny hopes Harvey can go beyond three innings, something he has not done in his first three starts for the club.
“I want (Matt) to come in and be sharp from the top,” he said. “He’s made some adjustments and the stuff looks rights. It’s just the execution. The consistency and the spin of his secondary pitches are going to make the difference of how long he can be out there.”
Even with an 0-for-3 Saturday, Madrigal is hitting .372 in 12 games. Seven of those games have come against the Royals, against whom he’s hitting .393. That’s impressive enough without considering that he was hitless in his first eight at-bats against Kansas City. And he’s enjoying every swing.
“It’s been a blast,” Madrigal said of his debut season. “It’s something I worked for the whole offseason. It’s something I visualized being on a winning team. Honestly, it’s not too big of a surprise. It’s something we’ve all worked for and talked about. It’s been a joy to be around these guys.”
Madrigal was on the injured list Aug. 5-27 with a separated left shoulder, but he’s right back in the groove since his return.
“When I was coming back, at first I was a little hesitant to try a full-out swing, but each and every day it feels much better,” he said. “The first couple of days facing live pitching I was a little hesitant. But the next day I wasn’t sore so it gave me the reassurance that I could go for it more each day.”
The fact that Madrigal generally bats ninth, despite his near-.400 average, shows the strength of the teams in the division.
“There are some pretty good teams (in the AL Central),” Matheny said. “We’re seeing some good starting pitching and some big arms in the pen. We’re seeing some pretty relentless lineups.
“That’s a testimony to our club. Just about every night we’re right there with them. What’s going to push us to overtake them on a consistent basis, that’s our goal. You can’t deny that these are some teams that any team in either league would struggle with.”
–Field Level Media