After a rocky start to the season, the White Sox rebounded last week with two series wins and much improved hitting.
Last week, the Chicago White Sox were on a 10-game losing streak and stuck in fourth place in the AL Central. Though the White Sox still sit in fourth place, just a spot above the more-struggling Kansas City Royals, the last week was very positive for the South Siders. The losing streak is over, they have won some series, and they have celebrated those wins.
On April 30, the White Sox broke the losing streak with a walk-off, seven-run ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays. Not many teams can say they beat the Rays this year, but this one can. On May 2, the White Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins with a walk-off in the 10th inning. The Pale Hose would go on to win the series against the Twins (first in the AL Central), their first series win of the year. Subsequently, they took two out of three from the Cincinatti Reds, before losing to the Kansas City Royals on May 8 in horrible fashion, 12-5.
Based on all of the prior weeks of the season so far, last week was a very good week. What changed?
White Sox Offense
The offense was hoping for a bit of a resurgence with the return of DH Eloy Jimenez and SS Tim Anderson to the lineup for the first time in weeks. As a team, the White Sox batted .292 compared a season average of .239 (19th in the league, up four spots from last week). After hitting 26 home runs in their first 30 games (.86 HR/game), the White Sox hit 12 home runs in the next eight games, raising their rate to 1.5 per game and moving them from 21st to a tie for 15th in the league. With 52 RBIs last week, the White Sox moved from 23rd in runs to 13th in MLB and improved to 11th in RBIs. It is true, scoring more runs wins more games.
The production didn’t come from all of the regular stars. During the week, Anderson hit .241, lowering his overall average to .263 which is very much unlike Anderson. 3B Jake Burger was 1 for 10 in the span.
But Jimenez was huge, batting .500 with seven RBI’s and two homers. 1B Andrew Vaughn batted .250 for the week but contributed nine RBIs and a homer. CF Luis Robert batted .500, with seven RBIs and two homers, and 3B Hanser Alberto contributed seven RBIs along with two homers. 2B Elvis Andrus, DH Gavin Sheets, OF Andrew Benintendi, and C Yasmani Grandal all had four or more RBIs last week. In the end, 10 players had multi-hit games last week.
However, injuries came back to haunt the White Sox last week. Jake Burger tore an oblique and will likely be out until at least May 19. Jimenez went into surgery for an appendectomy, which doesn’t have him returning to a lineup until mid to late June. Burger had a season OPS of .924 and seven homers, while Jimenez had raised his OPS to .744. Sometimes, it feels like you just can’t catch a break.
White Sox Pitching
The White Sox pitching was a touch better than normal during the eight games from last week. On the season, the White Sox have a 5.60 ERA compared to the 5.35 ERA from last week. The White Sox are second to last in ERA in MLB, only better than the Oakland A’s.
Inconsistency in their starting pitching plagues the White Sox. SP Mike Cleavinger had a game with two earned runs and followed it up with a four-run game. Meanwhile, SP Michael Kopech had his best outing of the year while allowing one run against the Twins and then gave up four against the Reds. SP Lucas Giolito pitched a gem against the Reds, giving up one earned run in seven innings and lowering his ERA to 3.67, and now it is down to 3.59. But SP Lance Lynn had a rocky outing against the Reds, giving up four earned runs in six and two-thirds innings, keeping his ERA steady at a whopping 6.86 on the year.
Very unfortunately, SP Dylan Cease continues to struggle with location of his fastball and slider. In 10 innings last week, he gave up 11 runs. He gave up seven runs against Kansas City which saw OF MJ Melendez take him deep on an 0-2 count. The runner up to last year’s Cy Young award goes into this week with a 5.58 ERA and 1.512 WHIP.
The bullpen mirrors the starting rotation in inconsistency. While RP Gregory Santos gave up one earned in 5 1/3 innings, RP Aaron Bummer gave up six earned in 3 1/3 innings. Even though RP Jimmy Lambert gave up one earned in 3 2/3 innings, RP Reynaldo Lopez gave up four earned in 2 1/3 innings.
To sum up, the pitching is a huge mixed bag with performances changing dramatically from pitcher to pitcher, in both the starting rotation and the bullpen.
After a pretty rough schedule to start the year, the White Sox have a decently rough schedule this week. Four games against Kansas City in Missouri should go pretty well if the White Sox really are on the mend. But then they face the Houston Astros at home in the second half of the week. Houston isn’t the normal Astros we typically see (third place in the AL West and under .500), but they are still a formidable team.
Was last week a fluke of statistics for the White Sox or did they figure out some things? The White Sox will need to continue to show some damage on offense and find some consistency in their pitching if they want to climb the AL Central standings.
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As the confetti fell in victory lane in Daytona on the Hendrick Motorsports No....