White Sox Recent Play Puts them Back in Race

Jun 21, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;The White Sox season has closely followed how well Chris Sale pitches.Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 21, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;The White Sox season has closely followed how well Chris Sale pitches.Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

After a Win at Texas on May 9th, the White Sox were a season high 13 games over .500 at 23-10. They lost 20 of their next 26 games. Their six-game lead became a 3.5 game deficit. The have gone 9-8 since to rebound slightly.

After getting swept at Cleveland last week, not much was expected of the White Sox in their four-game series at Boston. This has quickly become a season of ups and downs. The White Sox left Cleveland 5.5 games behind the Indians.

The series in Cleveland featured two late inning losses and another James Shields blowup. The White Sox scored only six runs in the three games with the Indians. They won the first three games in Boston, before losing another Shields start in game four.

They were able to overcome another loss in a Shields start a day after overcoming an uncharacteristic poor start by Jose Quintana. It was the bullpen that was more to blame in an 8-7 loss in the last game of the Boston series than Shields was. They gave up five runs in 4.1 innings. This came a day after the bullpen held the Red Sox top rated offense scoreless over 3.1 innings.

Shields gave up three runs in five innings. That’s an inning short of a quality start. That was his first positive start in almost a month. He had given up 32 runs in his four starts prior to Boston, one with San Diego and three with the White Sox.

Related Story: White Sox: James Shields Pitching Important Game Against Red Sox

The White Sox pitching has led the way this year but has fallen significantly over the last two months. The pale hose ended April with the AL’s best ERA at 2.72 with a 17-8 record. They fell to eighth with a 4.15 ERA in May and are 13th with a 5.29 ERA in June.

Despite the fall, the White Sox still have the sixth-best ERA in the American League at 4.03. The starters 4.34 ERA currently sits fifth in the American League and the relievers are sixth at 3.51.

The relievers slumped in May with a 4.72 ERA in 79 appearances after an unsustainable 1.69 ERA in 71 appearances in April. The bullpen has bounced back with a 3.92 ERA in June.

The starters began the season with a 3.18 April ERA, continued that with a 3.95 May ERA and have nearly fallen off a cliff with a 6.24 June ERA. Not coincidently the White Sox acquired Shields on June 4th. His four starts have skewed the starters stats for June. Without Shields, the starters ERA drops to 4.66 and the WHIP from 1.64 to 1.38. If he can just give them the five innings and three runs like he did in Boston, he would be a below average, but adequate fifth starter.

After a rough stretch during the White Sox swoon in late May, early June, Chris Sale has turned it around over the last three starts. He has won his last four starts. His teammates picked him in the first game of the streak after Sale give up five runs in six innings in a 7-5 win over Kansas City June 10th. 

In his next start, Sale gave up three runs on six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings. Sale has returned to dominance in his last two starts. In those gems, the four-time All-Star has pitched 15 innings, giving up nine hits, three walks and three runs with 16 strikeouts. That’s a 1.80 ERA and 0.80 WHIP.

After the 20 losses in 26 games, the White Sox went 4-6 in the next ten and have a 5-2 record since that streak.

The White Sox hitting has also picked up over the last five games. They began the 5-2 streak with a pair of 3-1 victories in Boston. Since then, the White Sox have scored 31 runs in the last five games.

The offense has turned around in spite of Todd Frazier’s batting average continuing to plummet. Frazier hit .229 in April, .210 in May and is hitting just .154 in June. His power stats are still there with 21 home runs and 49 RBIs. He is tied for the American League lead in Homeruns and ranks 14th in RBIs.

The White Sox best hitter has been Melky Cabrera. Cabrera has improved each month of the season. He’s hitting .333 with four home runs and 15RBIs in June. His .615 slugging percentage and .961 OPS in June have paced the White Sox offense.

As a team, the White Sox hitting has been outstanding over the last week. They are hitting .304 with 14 home runs and 27 RBIs. They need to win as many as they can over the next couple of weeks while they are hot offensively.

The White Sox play six of their last 12 before the All-Star break against the Majors two worst teams, Minnesota and Atlanta. The White Sox have played 16 games against teams with losing records this season. They are 6-0 against Minnesota, 3-1 against Oakland and 1-2 against both the Yankees and Rays. It’s critical that they play well if they are going to stay within striking distance of Cleveland.

We are beginning to see who the White Sox are. Their offensive stats by month are roughly the same. Their batting average is between .239 and .252, their slugging between .381 and .428 and their OPS between .688 and .741. The Slugging and OPS has been rising per month.

Next: White Sox Must Take Advantage of Upcoming Schedule

If the White Sox are going to get completely out of this slump and become a team that challenges for a playoff spot, it’s the pitching that is still going to need to carry them. There has been a stark difference in the White Sox win and losses from their pitching staff. They have a 1.77 ERA in wins and a 7.88 ERA in losses. Overall the pitching has been stellar. If they can get anything from the backend of the rotation and consistency from bullpen, the White Sox might be able to return to AL Elite.