Chicago White Sox: Upcoming stretch of games will prove a lot
Before the 2021 season began, most Chicago White Sox fans had a general idea of this team. They were strong offensively but pitching was a bit questionable and there was a fear for lack of depth. Four months into the season, the tables have turned.
In August, it is safe to say the strength of this White Sox team is the pitching staff. The starting rotation is nasty. It is even overflowing into the bullpen which has two of the top 5 closers in baseball right now. The questions arise when talking about the lineup.
This high-powered offense suffered significant blows early in the season. There was a general sense of fear if this lineup could produce in ways other than the longball. Despite being 19th in the MLB with 131 home runs, this team is sixth in RBIs and fourth in OBP. Depth pieces like Yermín Mercedes, Billy Hamilton, and Brian Goodwin held their own at different times and are a reason why the Sox have the division lead.
The White Sox have a chance to prove they are World Series contenders with this next stretch of games coming up. Some bats are hot but the lineup needs to step up. This team struggles against teams over .500. So far this season, they have faced ten opponents currently over .500 with a combined 16-22 record. Following this series against the Minnesota Twins, the White Sox will start a stretch of games facing four teams outside of their division over .500.
The Chicago White Sox have a very tough stretch of baseball ahead of them.
These 14 games act as a sort of dress rehearsal for October. All four teams (New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, and Oakland A’s) have a real shot at playing in the playoffs. The Astros will win the West and the A’s will take one of the Wild Card spots. The Rays are currently first in the East and the Yankees and Blue Jays are within three games of the second spot. There is a chance that any one of these teams are postseason matchups for the Sox.
They have a solidified three-headed monster in Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Rodón with a more-than-dependable backend in Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease. They also have lifetime starters in the bullpen like Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet, and Reynaldo López. José Ruiz is growing and dominating. Ryan Tepera can stop any potential bleeding. Craig Kimbrel is a future Hall-of-Famer, and Liam Hendricks is terrifying. The pitching is solid.
Tim Anderson has been up and down this season as he has been teeter-tottering his batting average between .280-.316 all season. When his 16-game-hit-streak snapped, he answered by going 5 for his next 33. Yoán Moncada makes solid contact but right to defenders. Usually, after a while, a hitter will find grass.
Moncada seemed to have figured it out for a bit there, hitting .270-.280 in July but since has dropped to .256. The OBP has fallen from around .400 to .373. The reigning MVP José Abreu has also struggled to get his batting average over .260 all season. He still drives in runs, proven by his 83 RBIs which are second in the MLB. However, the power has been a bit more scarce compared to his previous seasons.
In these next 14 games, the White Sox will face some all-star pitching that they have not gotten a good look at yet this season. It will be challenging but it is crucial that these bats wake up. All it takes is two or three hitters in the lineup to start feeling it and then the rest will. Hitting is contagious.
So far in August, Anderson has gone 11-36 with three home runs and seven RBIs with an OPS of .889. Since August 3, Abreu is 9-31 with three home runs and an OPS of .871. Since his return to the lineup on July 26, Eloy Jiménez is 11-37 with four doubles, five home runs, and 14 RBIs with an OPS of 1.144. Moncada has struggled so far this month but he is putting good wood on the ball. Six of his last seven recorded outs have had an exit velocity above 88 mph, three above 100 mph.
The sweep at Wrigley acted as a symbolic passing of the city over to the White Sox. The beat down on Sunday Night Baseball got the national media’s attention. They have not had eyes on them like this in a long time and they are all asking the same questions. Can these bats wake up and can the White Sox beat competitive teams? This next stretch of games can answer those questions and finally earn the respect of the national media.