The Chicago White Sox will play the Athletics in the playoffs for the first time ever.
The Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics are original American League franchises that have existed since 1901. From 1901-1993 they were in the same division together which is part of the reason why they never face each other in the playoffs before now. Though the White Sox have the all-time series lead against the Oakland A’s, the A’s have usually dominated them in terms of the standings and playoff success. The A’s have 9 championships to the White Sox 3and the A’s have won 15 AL pennants to the White Sox 6.
The Oakland A’s almost moved to Chicago to become the new “White Sox” in 1975 with the plan for the original White Sox to move to Seattle but that deal fell through. Did Chicago get lucky? This series may answer that.
Now, for the first time ever, the two teams will finally meet in the playoffs. Both teams have struggled in the playoffs recently. The A’s haven’t won a playoff series since they won the ALDS in 2006 against the Twins no less and the Sox haven’t won one since winning the World Series in 2005.
The White Sox limped to the finish line with a 2-8 record in their final ten games. None of that really matters now as the playoffs which are mostly random anyways. Though the White Sox stumbled their way to the seventh seed in the playoffs, there are a few reasons why the matchup against the Oakland A’s could be favorable.
For one, the Athletics only had one more win than the White Sox in the regular season meaning that these teams are likely very evenly talented. The separation of one win is the smallest between all opponents in the wild card round.
The Athletics will be also playing without their best player, Matt Chapman. making their lineup much weaker. The White Sox have been without Eloy Jimenez but he may be back to start the series. Chapman is out until next season.
With Chapman gone, the A’s only have one player (Robbie Grossman) with an OPS+ of more than 100 among their everyday players. The White Sox have six of such starters, plus 2 on their bench. They would have had another had he been healthy this year (Yoan Moncada).
White a superior offense on the White Sox side and the A’s having home-field advantage, the series may come down to pitching. Jesus Luzardo will start game 1 for the A’s, and Chris Bassitt will start game 2. This is significant because Luzardo is a lefty and the White Sox are 14-0 against left-handed pitchers this year.
While the White Sox should be favored for game one, game two might not be as easy. Chris Bassitt, unlike Manaea, is a right-handed pitcher and he came from the White Sox farm system in a horrible trade for the Sox and he hasn’t forgotten it.
“Every time I face them, I want to beat them”, Bassitt said in an interview. If the series goes to game three neither team has said who their starters will be but the A’s may go with Frankie Montas who is yet another White Sox farmhand.
Obviously, a serious lesson the White Sox needs to learn is to not do trades with Billy Beane. The A’s have four players they got from the White Sox in trade and the White Sox have zero ex-Oakland Athletics on their team. Winning this series would be a great way to remove the sting from those awful trades. With Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel pitching games one and two, the Chicago White Sox have a good chance to do so. With the talent they have, the White Sox can only be beaten by themselves.