On Sunday afternoon, the White Sox managed to drop their seventh game in a row. They completed their six-game road trip against Cleveland and Minnesota by losing in 10 innings to the Twins on a Byron Buxton home run. It was Buxton’s second home run of the game, and, ironically enough, his second home run following a walk to the ninth-place hitter. It came off Liam Hendriks, the Sox struggling closer, and capped off a truly horrendous week for the Pale Hose. The Sox were consistent in one area on this trip, though; they managed to make at least one error in each game.
Shortstop Tim Anderson averaged an error per game for the week, leading the way for one of the worst defensive weeks in recent memory. The Sox managed to score more than three runs just once and watched the bullpen squander late leads. This road trip has left many White Sox fans rather disappointed, some in fact declaring the season over. When one considers the injuries this team seems to suffer on a daily basis, as well as the general uninspired play, it is hard to blame fans for feeling this way. However, while there is cause for concern on the South Side, there are also reasons that Sox fans should stay positive.
Reasons For Optimism
Yes, the White Sox are in the middle of a stretch of really bad baseball. They are playing so poorly right now, that they remind some fans of the loveable losers on the other side of town. Yeah, we said it, that is how bad the Sox have been playing! The truth hurts, and the Sox are not a good baseball team today. The numbers don"t lie, they have been playing mediocre baseball for over a week now. Yet, at the risk of being called a fanboy, we still think that they can turn things around and that there are several reasons for optimism. We are still in April, and giving up on a team just doesn"t make any sense. So, we offer three reasons for Sox fans to remain excited about the 2022 season.
The Rotation Will Be Much Better
When Rick Hahn failed to pursue a legitimate starting pitcher in the offseason, many fans felt betrayed. The Sox let Carlos Rodón walk, and signed Vince Velasquez as rotation depth. Then, during spring training, top pitcher Lance Lynn suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for up to two months. To top it all off, Lucas Giolito managed to suffer an injury on Opening Day that sidelined him for more than two weeks. The starting pitching, a huge strength in 2021, suddenly looked like a disaster waiting to happen.
However, young starters Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech have stepped forward and taken great strides this season. Cease was outstanding in his first two starts, before stumbling somewhat in his third start. Overall, he has looked solid. Kopech has been even better than Cease so far. In three starts, he has compiled an ERA of 0.64, with a WHIP of 0.786. There is no reason to think that these two will continue to pitch well as the season progresses. The good news is that Giolito returned to the mound Sunday and was outstanding, striking out nine in just four innings, with one earned run allowed.
With Lynn expected to return in late May or early June, the White Sox should have one of, if not the best four-man rotation in the American League. Yes, they still need a fifth starter, but there are no teams in MLB that have a reliable fifth starter. Once the Sox get into the middle of the season, heading into October, they should have an outstanding rotation. Their rotation should give fans a sense of hope as the Sox navigate April and May.
Sox Lineup Has Potential To Be Elite
The White Sox have suffered a number of injuries in 2022, that have caused their offense to struggle. Yes, all teams have injuries, but the White Sox have seen several key offensive players go down with various ailments. The latest player to hit the injured list is left fielder Eloy Jiménez, who suffered a torn hamstring on Saturday. he is expected to be out from six to eight weeks. Yoán Moncada is yet to play this season, while A.J. Pollock was injured early in the second game of the season, and is still trying to regain his form. Luis Robert and Josh Harrison have also missed time, although neither has yet been placed on the IL.
The good news is that Andrew Vaughn has gotten more playing time and appears to be developing rather well. He leads the team in home runs at this early juncture and is having better at-bats against right-handers. His experience will be invaluable and he should be in the lineup every day now that Jiménez is on the shelf. Additionally, young players like Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger are getting critical at-bats, which may offer depth to the lineup as the season goes forward.
So, once the injured players get healthy again, the White Sox could trot out a lineup that looks something like this (or some other arrangement):
If this nine-man lineup hits up to reasonable expectations, the White Sox could very well field the best lineup in all of MLB. Yes, this assumes that players can stay healthy, and that is never a given. However, the thought of this lineup taking the field in August and September should give White Sox fans a sense of great anticipation.
History and Talent Favor The Sox
Last time we checked, the calendar said April 25th; we haven"t even reached Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. The White Sox have played a total of 15 games, less than 10% of a season. History is also on their side: last year they started out 6-8 and won 93 games. If one goes back further, in 1983, manager Tony La Russa managed the White Sox to a 16-24 record after 40 games. That Sox team finished with 99 wins. So, while La Russa has had a mediocre start to the season, he does know how the grind of a long season works. Hopefully, his experience will be an asset as the season rolls along.
We understand that many Sox fans watching a team struggle in April are tired of hearing “It"s early." Yet, it is indeed very early, and the White Sox have the most talented team in their division (when healthy). Yes, they have been hard to watch the last week, and we need to see improvement soon. However, this team has talent and history on their side, and fans should consider just sitting back and enjoying the ride. We may be called fanboys, but it is way too early for Sox fans to panic. This team will find its stride and win the division by at least 10 games.
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