The White Sox can’t be thrilled with the season, but the fact remains that with two weeks left in August and six weeks left in the season, the Sox are well within reach of a Wild Card or a Division championship. As it stands on August 18, the White Sox are two games behind Cleveland for the Divisional lead, one game behind Minnesota for second place, and two games behind a wild card spot. With the injuries and inconsistent hitting, the White Sox should be pretty excited about where they sit.
Since the All-Star break, the Southsiders are 15-11, playing over .500 ball consistently for the first time this season. The Sox just finished a five-game win streak that included a series sweep of the Tigers and two wins against Houston (one of those wins against Verlander). The easiest rode to the playoffs is to win the division and the Sox’ schedule to finish the season has some highs and lows. First, the bad news:
- Six games against Cleveland.
- Three games against Baltimore which is weird to say since typically that would be good news.
- Three games against Seattle.
- Three games against San Diego.
Of course, if the White Sox take the opportunity and do better than .500 against Cleveland they would help themselves out. Then there is the good news:
- Four games against Kansas City.
- Three games against Arizona.
- Four games against Oakland.
- Two games against Colorado.
- Six games against Detroit.
- Nine games against Minnesota
With the way Minnesota is playing, I see that as good news, though the Twins have sometimes been Sox killers over the years. If the Sox are peaking, this is the right time. The Sox are consistently hitting with four guys hitting over .300 (Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Tim Anderson) and Andrew Vaughn hitting .295. Likewise, Abreu, Jimenez, and Vaugh have an OPS over .800 and Luis Robert is at .790. As a team, the White Sox are tied for third in batting average with the Dodgers, only behind the Rockies and the Blue Jays. But they are 18th in OBP, Slugging, and OPS.
Anchored by Dylan Cease, the White Sox are 13th in ERA, 6th in strikeout, but 23rd in WHIP. Dylan Cease’s record run of 14 games with giving up one run or less just ended. Michael Kopech is surging again. He has a 3.08 ERA in his last seven games. Lucas Giolito’s numbers are deceiving. His sits at a 4.59 ERA in his last 7 games, but he is 4-1. We are still waiting for Lance Lynn to return to form.
The main issue is that Cleveland is rolling as well, going 16-10 since the All-Star break, putting themselves in first place. Their remaining schedule looks like:
- Six games against the White Sox.
- Two games against San Diego.
- Seven games against Seattle
- Three games against Baltimore
- Eight games against the Royals.
- Eight games against Minnesota
- Three games against the Angels
- Three Games against Texas.
- Three games against Tampa Bay.
The games against Tampa Bay, Seattle, Minnesota, Baltimore, and San Diego will be challenging for the Guardians. But finishing with five games against the Royals just doesn’t seem fair. The White Sox will have to handle business before the final week of the season. If they are neck and neck with Cleveland at that point, it will be tough sledding as the White Sox finish up against San Diego and Minnesota.
Minnesota can’t be counted out just yet. Since the All-Star break they are 11-11, falling to second place behind the Guardians. Minnesota’s schedule looks like the following:
- Three games against Texas
- Three games against Houston
- Three games against San Francisco
- Three games against Boston.
- Nine games against the White Sox.
- Four games against the Yankees
- Eight games against Cleveland.
- Six games against Kansas City.
- Three Games against the Angels
- Three games against Detroit
On one hand, we can hope that Cleveland and Minnesota can self-destruct as they play each other. Regardless, the White Sox will need to handle things against their divisional foes by doing better than splitting the final series. The door prize would be the Wild Card but that is not a foregone conclusion. Seattle, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Minnesota, Baltimore, and the White Sox are all vying for the three Wild Card spots. Seattle has a three-game lead but everyone else is within one or two games of each other. It will be a wild ride down the stretch.