White Sox Rookie Matt Foster Has a Horseshoe in His Hip Pocketon September 4, 2020 at 3:45 pm

White Sox Rookie Matt Foster Has a Horseshoe in His Hip Pocket

Two decades before Matt Foster was born, Dr. John had a hit single with “Right Place, Wrong Time.” Later covered by the Dave Matthews Band, as well as B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt, the song is true to its title. Funk-fused in sound, “Right Place, Wrong Time” is essentially an ode to misfortune.

Foster has had the opposite experience since debuting with the Chicago White Sox on August 1. Seventeen innings into his big-league career, the 25-year-right-hander has a won-lost record of 4-0. By and large, Foster has been in the right place at the right time.

Which isn’t to say he hasn’t pitched well. The Valley, Alabama native has allowed just eight hits and three runs in his 17 frames, and he’s fanned 21 batters along the way. Making those numbers even more impressive is the fact that Foster is a former 20th-round draft pick who came into the 2020 campaign with limited expectations. Despite a solid 2019 season in Triple-A, he garnered a mere honorable mention on our 2020 White Sox Top Prospects list.

Foster’s first big-league appearance came against the Kansas City Royals, and his initial emotions might be best described as falsely placid.

“When I got on the mound, I was like, ‘I’m really not that nervous,’ said Foster. “Then [Jorge] Soler got the first hit off me, and I was still kind of, ‘Well, OK.’ But then I threw an 0-0 slider to Salvador Perez and he almost took it yard. Then I was like, ‘OK, I’m nervous. This is real.'”

Undaunted, Foster proceeded to punch out Ryan McBroom, then retire Maikel Franco on a line drive to short. It was the bottom of the fifth inning, and he departed with the White Sox leading 7-0. They went on to win 11-5.

A pleasant surprise followed the final out. Foster learned that his W-L record stood at 1-0.

“I found out I’d gotten the win after the game was over,” admitted Foster. “Gio Gonzalez had started and gone something like three-and-two-thirds, and I actually had no idea that the starter needed to go five to get the win. I should have known, having being around baseball as long as I have, but for some reason that didn’t occur to me. It was up to the [official] scorer who would get the win, and it ended up being me.”

Foster recalls Jace Fry being the person first to pass along that news — “I kind of thought he was giving me a line, but I guess he was right” — and it turned out the lefty reliever wasn’t the only one to weigh in on the feat. More than a few of his teammates gave him a good-natured hard time about having chalked up an easy W.

Then it happened again. Ten days later — this in his fifth appearance — Foster pitched the sixth and seventh innings of an 8-4 win over the Detroit Tigers. Just as before, Gio Gonzalez had departed with a lead that was never relinquished, yet had failed to log the required five full innings. This time Foster wasn’t caught by surprise. As the final outs were unfolding, he found himself thinking, “Hey, I might get credited with another one here.” And he was.

His third win, relatively speaking, was earned. On August 30, Foster entered in the top of the 10th inning of a tie game against the Royals. With two on and two outs, he struck out Hunter Dozier. Foster then sat in the dugout and watched as rookie sensation Luis Robert deposited a walk-off, three-run bomb to give the White Sox a 5-2 win.

“I hadn’t really been thinking about it until Luis hit it out,” said Foster. “But once he did, I looked up and was kind of like, ‘Um, I guess I got another one.'”

Number four came the following night, a matter of hours after I’d talked to Foster about his first month in a big-league uniform. On this occasion, the right place, right time righty entered a tie game against the Twins in the bottom of the eighth inning. He proceeded to breeze through the heart of the Minnesota lineup, then watch as his teammates plated three runs in the top of the ninth. Alex Colome then sealed the deal in the bottom half. Foster — with a proverbial horseshoe in his hip pocket — was now 4-0. The late Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, “The Night Tripper,” would only be envious.

David Laurila grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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