Kevin Youkilis starts off hitting second for White Sox

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White Sox No. 2 hitters have batted a pathetic .215/.265/.323 this season. He won’t have to be the old Kevin Youkilis to improve on that.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura will ask Youkilis to help set the table for Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko following his acquisition from the Red Sox on Sunday. Here’s the lineup for tonight’s game against the Twins:

CF Alejandro De Aza
3B Youkilis
DH Dunn
1B Konerko
RF Alex Rios
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Dayan Viciedo
SS Alexei Ramirez
2B Gordon Beckham

Beckham had been hitting second for the White Sox of late and doing a pretty decent job of it. While his OBP there was just .315, he was hitting .265 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 44 starts. The other three guys to start there this season had been horrible:

Brent Morel: .140/.196/.163 in 43 AB
Alexei Ramirez: .143/.160/.224 in 49 AB
Brent Lillibridge: .050/.130/.050 in 20 AB

On paper at least, this looks like a big improvement. The White Sox have five players slugging better than .450 this season, and their biggest hole has now been covered over by a former All-Star. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what he has left.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.