The White Sox went 15-12 in the previous month, bringing their record on the season to 23-24. After an awful April, the team improved but continue to play average or slightly above average baseball.
With the team trailing the Minnesota Twins for first place in the American League Central Division by five games. After another good but not great month, the tension is setting in on the season. The White Sox have a lot to look forward to, but the underlying issues continued to set them back. Moreover, the issues make the upcoming month, with the season in full swing a crucial one for the team.
Kopech & Cease stepping up
The pleasant surprise throughout the first two months has been the emergence of the starting pitching. With Lance Lynn out since the start of the season and still rehabbing, the White Sox need the other starters to step up. Not only did Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech pitch well in the rotation, but the duo also carried the starting pitching to start the season.
Kopech is finally living up to the hype and potential the team hoped he’d achieve when they acquired him in the Chris Sale trade. This season, Kopech has only allowed eight runs in 42 innings pitched. However, the fastball that has been refined this season has particularly stood out and propelled the 26-year-old pitcher, making him oftentimes unhittable.
Cease, meanwhile, has become the surgeon of the rotation. The fastball-slider combination is already difficult to hit but with a curveball being mixed in, opposing hitters are left guessing at the plate. Cease can pick apart hitters with the three well-located pitches, directly resulting in a team-leading 76 strikeouts. While there have been difficult outings for the right-handed starter, he has emerged as the team’s ace early on in the season.
To add to the depth, the White Sox have seen Johnny Cueto emerge as the reliable starter at the backend of the rotation. Since making his debut this month, Cueto has continued to mix in his three off-speed pitches and mix up his timing to provide strong starts for the White Sox. he is just the type of pitcher the team needed, a reliable veteran to carry the end of the rotation. The same, unfortunately, couldn’t be said about another starter.
Keuchel getting D.F.A.
The White Sox were patient with Dallas Keuchel. There were bad starts, awful starts, even pitiful starts, but the team kept hoping Keuchel would step up.
Keuchel looked promising at times, with his sinker and slider forcing weak contact off the bat. However, the inability to blow batters away with his stuff and a cutter that was left over the plate continued to cost him. The 34-year-old starter allowed 33 runs in 32 innings pitched. Eventually, management stepped in and designated Keuchel for assignment (D.F.A), putting an end to a rocky, difficult tenure.
The hope was that Keuchel would provide stability to the end of the rotation. Instead, he gave the team inconsistency. With Cueto stepping up, the White Sox will move forward with the rotation they have and the one they hope to get soon.
Injuries continue to set White Sox back
In April, it was Lynn and Giolito in the rotation while Eloy Jimenez was taken out of the lineup. Once again, the White Sox played another month where injuries left them one step back, both of the Twins and as a team.
Jimenez continues to deal with setbacks while Lynn has yet to make his season debut. At the end of the month, Tim Anderson was placed on the injured list while Luis Robert was placed on the COVID-19 list. In addition, there have been a handful of key contributors who have been injured this season.
Prior to tonight’s series opener at Toronto, the #WhiteSox placed All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to May 30) with a strained right groin and reinstated outfielder Luis Robert from the Covid-19 Related injury list.
Injuries can’t be used as an excuse in baseball. After all, the 162-game season determines which team is the best and deepest roster. However, in comparison to the Twins, it’s clear what the difference is between the two rosters. The hope for the White Sox is that their stars, not only can get back to the roster but stay there.
White Sox Lineup heating up
The bright side to the previous month was the offensive improvement. While the White Sox are averaging only 3.66 runs per game, well below league average. However, the batting order is starting to heat up, particularly, the ball is flying out of the park.
In the game, the weather heating up has resulted in the bats getting hot as well. This couldn’t be truer about the White Sox who scored 108 runs in the 27 games played. Anderson continued to lead the batting order (before getting hurt that is) while Jose Abreu adds power in the middle. Moreover, Andrew Vaughn has stepped up to add power to the end of the lineup, slashing 291/.339/.509 with 56 total bases.
The lineup is getting hot at the right time. The hope is that they can carry that momentum for the rest of the season.
Why June is pivotal for the White Sox
The White Sox are still a significant number of games behind in the division. Considering two months of the season have already been played, it’s easy to tell what the team is good at, and where they struggle. The pitching is great, the lineup is inconsistent and the roster, as a whole, is dealing with injuries.
The problem is that it’s getting late out there early. The upcoming month might make or break the White Sox season. Simply, if the team can’t surpass the Twins or play great baseball, the trade deadline becomes difficult. In addition, the White Sox might not be the contenders many thought they’d be entering the season.
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