The Chicago White Sox are still searching for relievers, and will likely come away from the trade deadline without any. While the White Sox are in the middle of the pack in terms of bullpen ERA, their ERA+ of 78 isn’t good enough when you consider their high-octane offense. (Their lineup is second in the MLB in runs scored and OPS.) The White Sox are still searching for relievers, and will likely come away from the trade deadline without any. While the White Sox are in the middle of the pack in terms of bullpen ERA, their ERA+ of 78 isn’t good enough when you consider their high-octane offense. (Their lineup is second in the MLB in runs scored and OPS.)
The Chicago White Sox have been without their two biggest bats, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, for the majority of the season. While Garcia has been injured since the end of Spring Training, Abreu has been out since May 26th with a hamstring injury. The White Sox have only played 39 games so far this season, and they are on their way to posting one of their most disappointing seasons on record. The White Sox have the fourth-worst record in the American League and the fifth-worst record in Major League Baseball. While they have a talented young core of players such as Carlos Rodon, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Reynaldo Lopez, they have had to make up for the lack of talent
It’s the 7th. May and the White Sox are in second place with a 16-13 record, just 0.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians. The team had many problems early in the year, including injuries to key players like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, and it seemed like the sky was falling down. The fact is that this team is showing why many of us were optimistic at the beginning of the season, despite the struggles they have faced in this young season. In fact, this White Sox team has the second best run differential in all of Major League Baseball at +36, which is truly amazing.
I’ll admit that I don’t feel like this team has been particularly dominant, given the offensive problems that have existed for several seasons, combined with the injuries I mentioned above. But overall, this team has overcome the injuries to three of its four best outfielders and the inconsistent offensive performances of the reigning American League MVP and several other starters. If the team is to weather the storm of the prolonged absences of Luis Roberts and Eloy Jimenez, it will need to continue to rely on match-fixing.
As a team, the White Sox have performed admirably on the field so far. Carlos Rodon’s rebound was one of the highlights of the first five weeks of the season. Combine that with Dylan Cease’s recent improvements and Michael Kopech’s overall dominance in various roles, and this team is getting significant contributions from sources they didn’t expect. In the early spring, I assumed the White Sox would win the championship if they significantly improved at least one member of this group. Of course, there was the condition that they not suffer any serious injuries, and, well, that didn’t really work out.
If I told you that at the beginning of the season this team was sixth in the majors in ERA (3.36), fifth in FIP (3.45), fifth in K/9 (10.43) and seventh in HR/9 (1.01), I think we’d all be happy. They’ve been able to do that thanks to inconsistent play from their two best starters, Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, and a bullpen that ranks 21st in the league in HR/9. This is certainly a positive development. At the beginning of the season I was convinced that this team was capable of stopping the race, and I thought that would be an unofficial strength of the team, and it still is.
The starting lineup as a whole has been phenomenal, despite disappointing performances from Giolito and Keuchel, Dylan Sees struggling to record more than 14 outs early in the season, and Lance Lynn being relegated to the injury list. Things have really settled down since the first two weeks of the season, when they constantly pressured and forced the bullpen to get too many outs as the game progressed. This group ranks in the top five in baseball in ERA (third) with 2.87, FIP (fifth) with 3.26 and HR/9 (third) with 0.86. The only negative so far is the increased tendency to give away free passes – 19th in the league. This has been especially problematic for Dallas Keuchel, so he will need to address these issues in the future.
Like I said before, I was a big fan of this bullpen and thought it would be one of the best in the league. So far, they are just one team with an ERA of 4.18 and a HR/9 of 1.26, both of which are in the bottom half of the league. So far, they are missing a lot of innings and are third in baseball at 10.88/9. If they continue to miss shots at this rate, I think the premature home run problems will normalize as the season progresses. This group still has the most unpleasant material in baseball, despite everything they’ve shown so far.
The pen has shown what it can do, but it has yet to put in a long run of solid performances. If Aaron Bummer has a solid game, it looks like Evan Marshall is failing. If Cody Hoyer has a dominant game, he looks to struggle the next day. While the starter does his job, expensive free agent Liam Hendricks can’t keep the ball in the park. So far, this group has been in something of a perfect storm at various times – but not in a good way. My confidence in this group is unshakable and I firmly believe that they will right the ship and be among the best in the league.
With Robert and Jimenez out for four months, the White Sox’s win total will likely drop, and it will be up to the pitching staff to catch up. Of course, it would also help normalize the performances of veterans Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal to their usual levels. Coupled with the continued development of young players like Andrew Vaughn and Nick Madrigal, I expect the offense to continue to improve over the course of the season.
But, as Steve Stone recently noted in 670 The Score, without Jimenez and Robert in the lineup, this team loses 70-75 home runs. That’s a significant loss for a team, no matter who the rest of the team is. Because of this loss of productivity, the pitcher must be the driving force of the team.
Lucas Giolito considers himself a $200 million pitcher, it’s time he showed it. Dallas Kuchel likes to communicate openly with the press when things aren’t going well; it’s time to lead by example. Liam Hendricks is the team’s most valuable acquisition this winter; it’s time for him to get on the field and show why. Lance Lynn turned out to be the bulldog you were waiting for, and your young question marks answered the call. It was time for the rest of the group to do the same.
Make no mistake, there will now be no praise for the 2021 White Sox. Their road to the Soxtober this week was complicated by the sad news of Louis Robert’s injury. But this group can do it. I believed in this group in February, and I still believe in it now, in early May.
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