A weeklong homestand have put the White Sox back on the winning track behind some phenomenal pitching and much improved hitting.
A week off the road changes everything. The White Sox came back to Guaranteed Rate Field last week and went 5-2. Against the division rival Cleveland Guardians, the White Sox took two out of three and then they swept the three-game series with the Kansas City Royals. Going back to Cleveland, the White Sox lost the first game of the series on Monday.
It will be tough to get out of fourth place, but taking five games from divisional opposition is helpful. The White Sox moved up three games in the standings, down to 6.5 (even if perhaps the AL Central is the worst division in baseball).
White Sox Offense
The difference between last week and the week before was offense. The White Sox averaged four runs per game, up from 2.8 the week before, and close to their season average. Chicago scored five or more runs four times over the course of the week.
The Pale Hose hit .263 on the week, 20 points above their seasonal average of .239, which is 20th in the league. .263 on the season would push them into fifth in MLB, one spot ahead of the Chicago Cubs. The White Sox won the week on consistent hitting. The South Siders’ home run production has been steadily decreasing over the last three weeks. What started with 12 home runs in a week, decrease to six, and then five last week. The loss of DH Eloy Jimenez has stripped the White Sox of much of their power.
But the only thing that matters is run production; it doesn’t really matter how it happens. 3B Jake Burger led the team with nine hits (tied with OF Andrew Benintendi who hit .333 on the week), a .360 average, and seven RBIs. 1B Gavin Sheets had five RBIs for second on the team. C Yasmani Grandal hit .500 on the week but had no RBI’s.
Not everyone hit well last week. With 2B Elvis Andrus out, 2B Hanser Alberto manned second base and only had two hits in 14 plate appearances. SS Tim Anderson batted .160 on the week and 1B/DH Andrew Vaughn cooled off considerably, batting .176, with one RBI and zero home runs. CF Luis Robert didn’t collect many hits (six) on the week, but had another two home runs, keeping him tied for 3rd with 13 dingers.
White Sox Pitching
The White Sox pitching was nothing less than superb last week. In seven games, the team gave up 11 earned runs and only four home runs. No team scored more than three runs in a game on the week, and SP Michael Kopech and RP Kendall Graveman combined to pitch a shutout…with one hit…and facing the minimum.
After an incredibly difficult start to the campaign, the starting rotation continued their upward trend. SP Lance Lynn had two appearances (13 innings) and gave up three earned total. SP Mike Clevinger pitched six innings and gave up two runs, and SP Lucas Giolito pitched six innings and only gave up one run. The White Sox, as a team, moved up to 26th in ERA with a 4.83 ERA. Until this week, they had been stuck way over a 5.00 ERA for the entire season, which placed them 29th in MLB.
The main holdout in the rotation was SP Dylan Cease who had an okay day on the mound, pitching six and a third and giving up three earned. That is still better than his overall line to this point.
The bullpen was just as good as the starting rotation. RP Joe Kelly, RP Reynaldo Lopez, Graveman, RP Aaron Bummer, and RP Kenyan Middleton all pitched multiple innings and gave up no earned runs on the week. Kelly led the unit with four innings pitched on four appearances with no runs. RP Garret Crochet was back on the roster this week and had two innings in three appearances and gave up a run.
And help is on the way. According to manager Pedro Grifol, Liam Hendriks could be back on the roster as early as May 29.
The White Sox have really turned the tide on the pitching struggles that plagued them for the initial months of the season. The last two weeks have been outstanding. The offense seems to be a coin toss if it is going to be a good week or bad week. Without Jimenez, and Anderson off his production, it is tough to see how the offense can achieve consistency. Burger, 3b Yoan Moncada, and Robert could be the answer and they all have stayed fairly hot over the last couple of weeks.
This week, the White Sox have an opportunity to continue winning. They play three against Cleveland, who they just beat twice, and then four games in Detroit, who is also playing under .500 baseball.
Statistics are through Monday, May 22.
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