The AL Central leaders have dealt with an abundance of injuries all season long, as have other clubs. But, the tide is finally starting to turn in the South Siders favor. With Robert coming back, only veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal's return is needed to return the White Sox to full strength for the first time in 2021. When Eloy Jimenez made his season debut against the Royals, talk around the club was that his bat was sorely missed. Truthfully, just his presence alone will help the club down the stretch. That being said, what does the return of Luis Robert mean for the first place White Sox?
Since the All-Star break, the White Sox have struggled to score runs and hit the baseball. Reinforcements like Brian Goodwin, Gavin Sheets, Billy Hamilton, and Adam Engel have done their best to fill the void in the outfield. However, Chicago has relied heavily on their pitching staff to slowly build their division lead to 10.5 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians. With Robert ready to play again, the hope is that his bat will add some thump to this lineup and give the rest of the guys the jolt they need to start driving in runs.
Before his injury, the 24-year-old center fielder was hitting .316 with a homer and eight runs batted in. While those numbers aren't gaudy, he was still a big part of the lineup. His presence alone altered how pitchers tiptoed around the White Sox order. Now that he's back, manager Tony La Russa has plenty of options to work with. The new acquisition of Cesar Hernandez provides a solid two-hole hitter or bottom-of-the-lineup threat, which then leaves Robert to either fall atop the scoresheet or land in the middle of the order to stabilize the meat of the order. Either way, it will be another obstacle for opposing hurlers to think about.
Robert hit the ball well in Triple-A Charlotte and even stole a few bases during his stay. Aside from his offense, his ability to track seemingly everything down was missed. He'll give the likes of Jimenez and whoever takes control of right field the opportunity to worry less about the gaps and more about tracking balls in their area.
Feel free to construct your lineups before the team releases the real one on Monday. Wherever you put Robert, the order will look just a bit scarier than it did in recent games. First pitch from Target Field in Minneapolis is set for 7:10 p.m. CDT.