Mariners-White Sox Preview
CHICAGO -- In his first season in the big leagues, Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson has managed to avoid hitting the rookie wall.
As for hitting baseballs, that's a different story.
"I've been having fun with it," said Anderson, who has hit safely in 17 of his past 19 games to increase his average to .285. "I've been going out and playing hard. I'm still figuring out what kind of hitter I am."
Anderson will try to stay hot Sunday as the White Sox (62-66) wrap up a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners (68-61). Chicago has won two of the series' first three games.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon (4-8, 4.02 ERA) looks to continue a recent hot streak when he takes the mound for the White Sox. Rodon is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his past four outings, all of which have been quality starts. In two career starts against Seattle, he is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 13 innings.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker (4-8, 4.14) will start for the Mariners. The highly touted 24-year-old has endured an up-and-down campaign that has included a monthlong stint on the disabled list and a brief demotion to Triple-A Tacoma earlier this month.
Walker allowed four runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings against the New York Yankees on Tuesday in his first start since rejoining the big-league team. In three career starts against the White Sox, he is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA (six earned runs in 16 innings).
Seattle manager Scott Servais would prefer a long start from Walker, who has pitched six innings only once in his past six outings. However, if Servais needs to lean on his bullpen, he has a few fresh arms.
Rookie right-hander Dan Altavilla pitched a scoreless eighth in his big-league debut Saturday night. The Mariners selected Altavilla's contract from Double-A Jackson, where he posted a 1.91 ERA with 16 saves. He relies upon a fastball and slider and hopes to emulate the success of right-hander Edwin Diaz, who also made the leap from Double-A to the majors.
In addition, the Mariners promoted veteran relief pitcher Pat Venditte from Triple-A Tacoma. The 31-year-old offers Servais an unusual option -- a pitcher who can throw both left-handed and right-handed.
Venditte posted a 5.19 ERA with seven strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings with the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this season. He went 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 26 appearances with the Oakland Athletics in 2015. During his career, he has faced 69 batters as a right-handed pitcher and 94 batters as a left-handed pitcher.
"He gives us a lot of options," Servais said. "I've actually known Pat for a long time. He's from Omaha, he went to Creighton, and my uncle was the head coach there at Creighton. I saw Pat pitch way back in college when my uncle first told me about him. He was a walk-on, kind of came from nowhere. (He is a) self-made guy, a very good competitor who has made his way through the minor leagues.
"Coming out of our bullpen, he can face the tough lefties earlier in the game with what he has, and then he can also flip around and go right-handed. Left-handed, it's not as much velocity, it's more breaking ball. Right-handed, he throws a little bit harder. He does it with guile and know-how and competitiveness."