White Sox Scorecard: Five Musts For the Second Half

We can all agree that the Chicago White Sox have underperformed during the first half of the season. So far, this just isn’t what anybody expected. On offense, the White Sox are third in batting average (thank you Luis Roberts (.301), Jose Abreu (.304), Andrew Vaughn (.301), and Tim Anderson – Anderson is sixth in the AL at .310), 18th in OBP, 18th in slugging, and 18th in OPS. These numbers lead to 16th in runs scored. The Minnesota Twins, who are in first place, are 11th, in runs scored. As far as pitching is concerned, the White Sox are 19th in ERA, 23rd in WHIP, and fifth in strikeouts (thank you Dylan Cease; Cease leads all pitchers with 150 strikeouts).

These numbers all add up to third place in the AL Central, a game behind the Guardians and 3 games behind the Twins. The Southsiders are 3.5 games in back of the last Wild Card sport behind the Red Sox and the Guardians, tied with Baltimore. Things were trending in many of the right directions prior to the All-Star Game with the type of momentum that could erase 3 games very easily. The White Sox split with Cleveland and won 3 out of 4 against the Twins in Minnesota leading up to the All-Star Game. The White Sox scored over 10 runs in two games against the twins and scored 6 in the other win.

Consequently, hope is far from lost. Here are five Musts for the White Sox to get back into playoff contention. Tim Anderson playing at a high level is not a Must. We know he will because he does every year, just coming off the All-Star Game where he had a hit and displayed some great defense.

  1. Starting Pitchers Must Rebound

Dylan Cease is holding the rotation together with a 2.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 12.9 K/9 strikeout ratio. In his last seven games, he is 5-1, with a .65 ERA and a .96 WHIP. Meanwhile, Lucas Giolito is 2-3, sitting at a 6.08 ERA and a 1.4 WHIP in his last seven. Michael Kopech is 1-4, 5.63 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP in his last seven. Lance Lynn is 1 and 3, 7.50 ERA, and a 1.50 WHIP in the last seven.

These numbers are not sustainable long term and they can’t, and won’t, lead to wins. This is a highly rated rotation with Cease almost being an afterthought in pre-season. A month ago, Kopech had a 2.59 ERA, he just needs to get back to that.

  • Jose Abreu Must Take Back the RBI Lead

One of the best ways to win baseball games is to score more runs than the other team. Abreu is the guy who can make that happen, but he has his work cut out for him. Sitting at 46 RBI’s, tied for 50th in MLB is unfamiliar territory for Abreu. In 2021, Abreu was second in MLB; in 2020, he was first; In 2019, he was second. In 2022, Abreu doesn’t even lead the Sox. He is third behind Luis Robert and Andrew Vaughn.

Abreu may not finish in the top 5 this year, but he can still get over 100 RBI’s. If Abreu is hitting RBI’s, the White Sox are winning games.

  • Everyone Must Stay Healthy

In general, your best chance of winning is having your best players on the field. The White Sox have been tortured by injuries this year with all their key players. I am sure someone will dig into offseason conditioning for the White Sox, but right now, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Roberts, Andrew Vaughn, Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, and every single other player on the team must stay healthy for the rest of the season. Sure, this is a tall order, but given the amount of downtime in the first half, it isn’t much to ask.

  • Luis Roberts Must Stay Hot

Roberts is a superstar and I fully expect him to be in the All-Star game next year. Roberts hit .192 in April and subsequently hit .347 and .306 in May and June. With a few days to go in July, he is slashing .328/.381/.586 with a phenomenal .967 OPS. He had 21 RBI’s in June and already has 16 RBI’s in July. Consistency is key and Robert needs to continue this barrage at the plate for the White Sox to make a deep playoff run.

  • There Must be One More Hero.

It doesn’t matter who it is, but the White Sox need one more guy.  It could be Andrew Vaughn, it could be Adam Angel, It could be Jimenez. Maybe Leury Garcia. Or pick a reliever – Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, or Jose Ruiz.  Doesn’t matter to me, as long as someone is counted on to shut down the opponent in the middle of the game. We assume Liam Hendriks will be Liam Hendriks. Anything less will be a disaster.

For the White Sox to come from behind, win the really hard games, and re-take the AL Central, they will need someone else to switch from role player to stud. Andrew Vaughn is definitely making the case that it is going to be him.  

Author

  • Larry Goldman

    Larry spends his nights and days watching, researching, and writing about sports in Chicago and the national conversation.

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