The next nine games for the Chicago White Sox may be the most important stretch of the season for them to this point. Despite owning an 11 game division lead in the American League Central, this nine-game slate could impact the American League playoff picture while also serving as a litmus test to how far the White Sox can go in October.
The narrative surrounding the Chicago White Sox is that they can’t beat good teams. After dropping two of three in an intense series against the New York Yankees, those cries only grew louder. The White Sox next three series present them with an opportunity to silence the critics.
Every game is against a team that is in the AL playoff picture. The White Sox have three more games vs. Oakland before traveling down to Florida to play three games against the Tampa Bay Rays. Then they travel North of the border to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in a four-game set.
Beating the A’s 5-2 on Monday night was a good start for the White Sox. The bullpen bounced back and the offense overcame an early 2-0 deficit. The Oakland A’s are a wildcard team right now so this series is crucial for them. The New York Yankees are right on their tail. If the A’s lose two of three they are in jeopardy of losing their playoff spot.
The Chicago White Sox is going to have a direct impact on the rest of the AL.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays own a 3.5 game lead in the tightly contested AL East Division. They also own the best record in the American League and the number one seed that comes with it. The White Sox are only three games back of that honor. If they sweep Tampa they can slingshot them in the standing and take over that spot on top.
The one seed is important for the White Sox for two reasons. It would give them a home-field advantage and they could play the Wild Card team in the first round. The White Sox have been much better at home this season and a series in front of a rocking Guaranteed Rate Field crowd would provide them a huge edge. It would also allow the White Sox to avoid the Astros, a team they have struggled with this year, in the first round.
The Blue Jays provide another unique challenge for the White Sox. The Jays are four games back of a Wild Card spot so they are hungry for wins. If the White Sox can take three of four or sweep them, it would be detrimental to their playoff chances.
As the season winds down the Blue Jays can’t afford any large slip-ups. The White Sox has the opportunity to provide the knockout blow. In these next five games, the White Sox are going to be a major player in how the American League playoffs take shape.