Those in the know seem to really like the Chicago White Sox offense, starting pitching, and bullpen heading into the season. As evidence, one can look at MLB.com’s ranking of each of those areas as being top-five in baseball.
The White Sox come in at number two overall in strength of bullpen, one spot behind the Atlanta Braves. The number two ranking to start the season is actually a drop-off from last year when the website ranked the White Sox number one.
What dropped them down was their final numbers regarding relief earned run average and batting average. The White Sox closed out the 2021 season with a 3.97 ERA and .233 average against.
The White Sox had themselves a pretty good bullpen in 2021 with the likes of Michael Kopech, Aaron Bummer, Garrett Crochet, Ryan Tepera, and closer Liam Hendriks. Despite losing Tepera in free agency and Kopech heading into the starting rotation, the White Sox added some proven arms to shore things up in Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly.
While Hendriks was on his way to leading the American League in saves, the White Sox thought they made a huge addition to the bullpen when they acquired the Chicago Cubs closer in Craig Kimbrel. He was virtually unhittable while on the north side during the first half of the season but couldn’t duplicate that magic when placed in a set-up role across town.
Kimbrel is an interesting player to watch heading into the season. If he finds his groove that netted him 20 saves before the trade, he could find himself either as a solid piece of the bullpen or a nice trade piece.
The White Sox bullpen could be elite if both Bummer and Crochet take another step forward in their young careers while Graveman and Kelly repeat their performances of 2021. The Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants rounded out MLB.com’s top five spots.
The Chicago White Sox have a lot of elite players all over the diamond right now.
Starting pitching was a hallmark of the White Sox’s drive to the playoffs. Led by the performances of Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease, and Carlos Rodon, the quartet posted a 48-27 record with 778 strikeouts. Dallas Keuchel finished out at 9-9 but had a terrible second half that kept him from being on the playoff roster.
Adding Kopech to the rotation will be something to keep an eye on as will how Keuchel will respond to a disappointing season from him. Still, the White Sox’s top three can match up with any in baseball, which is why they were ranked fourth overall behind the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, and Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays respectively with the Houston Astros rounding out the five.
As for the offense, it should come as no surprise to see the White Sox high up on MLB’s list. Tim Anderson is a threat for a batting crown, while the pop in the lineup comes from Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Jose Abreu, and Yasmani Grandal.
Yoan Moncada is also capable of adding incredible offense. Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets showed that they can make offensive contributions and it will get even better now that each has a season under their belts.
The key here though is that they need to be healthy. The injuries to Jimenez and Robert that forced each to miss a large portion of the year did not help the power numbers. The White Sox were 19th in home runs. However, they were eighth in runs batted in, seventh in runs scored, and fifth in both hits and team batting average.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays went one and two in the category with the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees taking spots four and five.
All of this looks good for the White Sox but games aren’t won on paper. They have to go out and perform to those expectations (and maybe beyond) if they plan to play deep into October.