It is easy to continue to pile on the criticism aimed at the White Sox players, the Southside Front Office, Tony La Russa, or even the White Sox mascot, Southpaw. What isn’t easy to do, is find some of the positive in what is a frustrating season. The White Sox are far from the bottom of the MLB or even the AL Central. But hopes were high, and yes, the injury rate is high, and though moral in the clubhouse is very high, fans are struggling to get excited.
Since June 13, the White Sox swept the Tigers (something that should happen), lost two of three to Houston (then again, so did the Yankees), won two of three from Toronto (Yea!), lost three of four at home to the Orioles (Boo!), and lost to the red-hot Angels (only 4-3). Let’s look at some reasons to get excited about the White Sox moving forward.
- Giolito Rebounds
Lucas Giolito’s ERA has been rising as fast, if not faster, than Aaron Judge’s home run total. That is not the trajectory you hope for. Giolito had a 2.57 ERA in April, 4.13 in May, and looks like he’ll end June with a 7.67 for a season total of 5.19. However, on June 27, facing the Angels, Giolito gave up 2 runs in six innings with 0 home runs. A pretty good outing against a pretty good team. Giolito held Trout and Ohtani to 1-6 with 4 strikeouts. Not too shabby, especially given that he hadn’t held a team to two runs or less since May 25, 7 starts ago (Note: On June 5, he did give up 5 runs, but only 2 earned).
Let’s see if Lucas can turn this into some momentum going into July.
2. Cease is the new Alpha
Dylan Cease has turned it on exactly when the White Sox were suffering the most. On the year, he has a 2.56 ERA and an amazing 121 strikeouts in 81 innings, 13 strikeouts/9 innings pitched. In May, Cease had a total ERA of 3.69 due to a monthly ERA of 3.98. But in June, his monthly ERA was .33, bringing him down to 2.56 on the season. Cease has given up 1 earned run in his last 27.1 innings (that is six starts). He has given up 1 home run in that span. Cease will give up hits and he’ll walk some people, but he doesn’t give up runs.
What the White Sox need, is that magic to continue. It is the inconsistency of the various key players that cause the frustration.
3. Welcome Back Tim Anderson
Lance Lynn came back in June as well as Tim Anderson. Lynn’s debuts for the 2022 season looks a little like spring training for him, as he has given up at least 3 runs in every game he has pitched leaving him with an ERA over 6.
But Anderson’s return was a little more triumphant. Maybe not necessarily exactly where he left off (he hit .385 in May with a .923 OPS), but he is still batting .339 with a .844 OPS. The key is the production. Anderson played six games in June and scored 4 runs and had two multi-hit games.
It is safe to say that Chicago will storm LA if Anderson is snubbed from another All-Star game.
4. Does Andrew Vaughn have a Ceiling
Andrew Vaughn bat .283 with a .933 OPS in April, in May, he hit .298 with a .767 OPS, and in June, he hit .340 with a .833 OPS behind a 3.93 OBP. With Anderson out of the lineup for most of June, Vaughn stepped up to get on base in a big way. His overall season stat line reads a .314 batting average and a .841 OPS for season. Judge and Trout will command must of the All-Star outfield voting, but Vaughn cannot be ignored at this point.
Jose Abreu also had a resurgence in June, batting over 300, another double-digit RBI Month with 13 and an astounding 17 runs scored. Add in Louis Robert, who bat .294 in June with 19 RBI’s and 11 runs scored, and it feels like the real White Sox.
The key is for everyone to hit at the same time. With a healthy Anderson back and hopefully the return of Eloy Jimenez, you could imagine a scorching second half of the year if these guys did 80% of what they did in June all at the same time.
5. Let’s Get Hot in July
The schedule is working in the Sox’ favor for July, if the White Sox can carry this momentum. Assuming a rebound for Giolito, assuming Cease continues to play at this level, assuming Lance Lynn settles in, and all these guys continue hitting, the schedule in July can allow the White Sox a complete 180 for the year. The White Sox play seven games against the Twins, four games against Detroit, and seven games against Cleveland. They finish the month with the A’s at home. This schedule could not only catapult the White Sox into first in the AL Central, but it can also put their main opponents in the rearview mirror.