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Where Sox, Astros pitching plans sit after Game 4 rainout

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
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The rains came to the South Side on Monday and washed away the Chicago White Sox' latest chance to avoid elimination.

That's what they did a night earlier, when a raucous crowd witnessed, for the most part, the White Sox team that was envisioned when all that "World Series or bust" talk was floating around in spring training.

They'll have to do it two more times to keep playing past this week. And an unexpected off day in between Games 3 and 4 did little to jumble the White Sox' pitching plans for their next elimination game, moved to Tuesday afternoon.

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Carlos Rodón will get the start for the South Siders, as he was supposed to Monday. It's still a relative mystery what he'll be able to provide, in terms of length. Though Rodón and manager Tony La Russa have discussed Rodón turning a corner, when it comes to how his persistently sore left shoulder is feeling, in recent days, it was just Thursday that White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz seemingly gave voice to the team's opinion on the southpaw:

"We'll take five outs. We'll take five innings."

 

Monday's postponement made it possible that Lance Lynn, the White Sox' starting pitcher in Game 1 of this series, could make a return appearance on regular rest. La Russa has opted to forego that option in favor of sticking with Rodón, who like Lynn turned in Cy Young-caliber performances when he was on the mound during the regular season.

La Russa did say, though, that with his team's season on the line Tuesday, Lynn could be used out of the bullpen, if need be, revealing that that's where Lynn was stationed during Sunday's game, as well, should he have been needed in relief. Lynn's availability in relief could point to Lucas Giolito being the team's starter for Game 5, if a Tuesday win forces such a necessity Wednesday night in Houston. But La Russa has waited until the last minute — in this case, day-before press conferences — to reveal who has started each playoff game.

Lynn's availability out of the bullpen could prove critical, with La Russa saying Monday that Michael Kopech will not be available to back up Rodón after the fireballing right-hander threw 47 pitches Sunday. Kopech gave up three runs but got some valuable outs in bridging the gap from a brief outing by Dylan Cease to a perfect final five innings by the back end of the bullpen. But without Kopech at his disposal, La Russa might have to get creative should Rodón's shoulder — or just the events of the game — prevent a lengthier outing.

Meanwhile, the Astros used the unanticipated off day to do exactly what the White Sox could have done with Lynn. They'll throw Lance McCullers Jr. in Game 4, calling on their best pitcher to attempt to bring an end to the series. McCullers turned in a dominant performance in Game 1, silencing White Sox bats to the tune of no runs and just four hits in 6.2 innings, only one of those hits coming in the first six innings.

Playoff series often resemble chess matches, and this one between two storied skippers has a new wrinkle thanks to Mother Nature.

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