After their 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon, the Chicago White Sox pushed their record to 5-3. There are still plenty of questions about this year’s White Sox team but one thing is for sure: they can score runs.
As of now they are leading the MLB in runs scored and are third in batting average. However, it’s troubling how they’re giving up plenty of runs as well. On Opening Day, the Sox looked magnificent at the plate, jumping out to a 14-0 lead over the Cleveland Indians.
Mark Buehrle cruised through five innings of shutout ball but then gave up four runs in the 6th. When all was said and done, the White Sox came out a winner, 15-10. That’s not exactly the ideal way to win. Yet, that’s the way Ozzie Guillen and his Sox are going to get the job done this year (for the most part) and fans better hope that method can carry them all the way to the Fall Classic.
In their eight games Chicago has scored 56 runs which is first in the MLB and they rank in the top five in team batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They are a complete team because they have players who will get on base at the top of the order, such as Juan Pierre and Gordon Beckham, and they have the power hitters to knock them in. Last year Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin hit a combined 103 home runs.
This young season, after just eight games, they have four home runs which puts them on pace to hit 81. Surely that number will rise and the Sox will need it to because the pitching staff and bullpen can be questionable.
If Jake Peavy can ever get healthy and pitch a significant amount of games for the White Sox they will greatly benefit, but for the time being, missing the former Cy Young award winner means there is a drop off at the fifth spot in the rotation. With Peavy in the rotation, the Sox can have Buehrle, Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson as their five and that is pretty solid.
However, Floyd has been known to struggle early in the year and after one outing his ERA is above five. Buehrle is the complete opposite because he usually starts out excellent but breaks down in the second half. They will need both pitchers to be on top of their game for the entire season if they are to win the Central and make a run in the postseason.
I say all that to say this: the starters will get the job done for the White Sox a lot of the time. They will pitch a solid 5-7 innings but after that, what Ozzie needs more than anything, is his bullpen to step up and do the job. Matt Thornton’s performance has already been questionable but much of that is due to the defense behind him. Keep an eye on Chris Sale because the young closer could be to the Sox what Adam Wainwright was for the Cardinals in their ’06 World Series title.
Chicago has not won a Central Division title since 2008 but things look bright in 2011.
They have one of the most powerful lineups in all of baseball, a pitching staff that, if healthy, can be one of the most effective in the league and they have two relievers capable of being all-stars. Will they be able to put it all together? Who knows, but early indications show that the offense is clicking and the starting pitching is there. If the bullpen can become more effective then watch out, we may see another Fall Classic on the Southside of Chicago.
–Zach WadleyFollow paulmbanks