Sunday, August 14, 2022

Three Bold White Sox Predictions For The Second Half Of The Season

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The 2022 MLB All-Star Game is behind us, and the regular season’s second half is underway. With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, the race for the playoffs is heating up. Over the next 12 weeks, contenders and pretenders will be revealed. Players will be moved, playoff spots will be earned, and awards races will be decided.



The White Sox’s first 92 games have been anything but predictable. Key players have underperformed, making the White Sox the most disappointing team in the first half. Don’t fret that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to turn the season around. 

Here are three bold predictions for the second half of the White Sox 2022 regular season.

White Sox Finish At Least 10 Games Above .500

Before the season started, this would not have been a bold prediction. The White Sox were coming off a 93-win season and were heavy favorites in the relatively weak American League Central Division. 

Yet here they are coming out of the All-Star break at 46-46, with a minus 14 run differential. Their underachievement has landed them in third place of the AL Central as the second half resumes. 

With 70 games remaining, the White Sox need to go at least 40-30 if they want to finish ten games above .500. Accomplishing this would net them 86 wins on the year and salvage a poor first half of the season. If they go 44-26, they will reach the 90 win mark. 

If you have followed the White Sox in their first 92 games, this seems like an uphill climb. Injuries, bad base running, sloppy defense, and a lack of power plagued the White Sox. 

But there is a reason for hope.The White Sox are 7-3 in their last 10 games and riding some momentum. The team is returning to full strength. Yasmani Grandal is expected to be back for the Cleveland series. They are beginning to see an increase in home runs. 

Their final game before the All-Star break against the Minnesota Twins may have been their most complete game of the season. Dylan Cease twirled a gem. He threw seven scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, and struck out eight. 

Yoan Moncada, Andrew Vaughn, and Josh Harrison each homered in an 11-0 drubbing of the Twins. But what flew under the radar the most was the defense. Adam Engel made a sliding catch in center field. Gavin Sheets made a head-first diving catch in right field on a sinking line drive, and Leury Garcia made two outstanding plays in left. He made a sliding catch down the line right before hitting the wall in the fourth inning, then a diving catch in the sixth. 

The White Sox have the most manageable remaining schedule in baseball. It is time they capitalize on it by going on a run.

 

Dylan Cease Wins American League Cy Young

Dylan Cease has established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. The fact that he was not named an All-Star is baffling. 

His 150 strikeouts are the most in the MLB. During his last outing in Minnesota, he also became the fastest pitcher in White Sox history to record 500 career strikeouts. In his previous 12 starts, he has allowed just three earned runs and 34 hits while racking up 79 punchouts. 

You can make a case that he has the best numbers in MLB history for a pitcher that was not named an All-Star. Cease put himself in some elite company with his first-half performance. 

Pitchers with 150+ strikeouts and less than 80 hits in the 1st half

  • Dylan Cease, 2022
  • Justin Verlander, 2019
  • Max Scherzer, 2017 
  • Jose Fernandez, 2016
  • Pedro Martinez, 2001

150+ strikeouts & a sub-2.15 ERA in the first half by pitchers in the first five years of their career

  • Dylan Cease 2022
  • Dwight Gooden 1985
  • Vida Blue 1971
  •  Luis Tiant 1968
  • Walter Johnson 1910

Pitchers with 75+ SO & 3 or fewer earned runs in any 10-start span:

  • Dylan Cease 2022
  • Jacob de Grom 2021
  • Chris Sale 2018
  • Bob Gibson 1968

In 104.2 innings this season, he posted a 2.15 ERA. That is the sixth lowest in the MLB and the third lowest in the American League. 

Opponents are hitting just .197 off of Cease this season. His next four starts will be against the Cleveland Guardians, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and Detroit Tigers. Their offenses rank 17th, 29th, 13th, and 30th in runs scored this season. 

Meanwhile, current Cy Young front runner Shane McClanahan plays in the tough American League East. The Rays still have three series against the Boston Red Sox, two against the New York Yankees, two against the Houston Astros, and two against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays all rank in the MLB’s top 10 in scoring, while the Astros have the third most home runs in the MLB. 

Assuming Cease can continue his stretch of dominance, he has an excellent opportunity to close the gap in the Cy Young conversation. 

Every Starter In The Rotation Finishes With A Sub 4.00 ERA

We already talked about how dominant Dylan Cease has been. Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto owns a 2.80 ERA and is arguably the MVP of the White Sox to this point. 

Michael Kopech has a solid 3.36 ERA despite experiencing some symptoms of dead arm in his last couple of starts. The rest during the All-Star break should help. 

Lucas Giolito endured some struggles but has looked better of late and owns a 4.69 ERA. Expect that to drop to the threes in the second half.  

The biggest surprise would be Lance Lynn. Lynn owns a hefty 7.50 ERA in seven starts this season. 

Some regression was expected from last season when Lynn was a finalist for AL Cy Young. But some of Lynn’s numbers are deceiving. He was tagged for six earned runs on his June 25th start against the Baltimore Orioles. 

Lynn pitched much better than his final line showed. Through six innings, he only allowed two runs and logged eight strikeouts. Tony La Russa opted to send his starter out for the seventh inning. Lynn retired two of the first three batters he faced. But after issuing a walk to Jorge Mateo, it was clear that Lynn was laboring. La Russa left him in despite being over 100 pitches. The decision came back to bite him. Lynn allowed an infield single to load the bases, then hit Trey Mancini with a pitch. 

It was then that La Russa pulled Lynn from the game, and Jose Ruiz proceeded to serve up a bases-clearing double. All three runs Lynn was responsible for. 

He is also returning from knee surgery that repaired a torn tendon behind his right knee this spring. Now that Lynn has a couple of starts under his belt this season and looked healthy, he should be due for a bounce-back second half. If you take away those three runs, his ERA drops to 6.75. Still not an impressive number but much better than his current 7.50 mark. 

However, there have been some positive signs. Lynn’s fastball spin rate and walk rate are in the top 15th percentile in baseball. He also is in the top half of the league in whiff rate. Given Lynn’s track record and a relatively easy second-half schedule, the big right-hander from Indiana has earned the benefit of the doubt. 

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Navylifer3
Navylifer3
Jul 23, 2022 1:23 pm

With all the predictions and hopeful thinking – one prediction not made is: White Sox will continue to shoot themselves in the foot – due to their inability to execute baseball fundamentals. Every team strives to improve their pitching and hitting, but what’s overlooked – especially at the major league level – are fundamentals like defense, running the bases and baseball IQ, because that part of the game starts before High School! The SOX defensive game is offensive: Throws from the outfield way off target, nobody backing up plays at the plate and allowing runners to take a extra base… Read more »

Ralph Law
Ralph Law
Jul 22, 2022 1:43 pm

Would like to see Lynn do well. I say he is finished as an MLB effective starter.

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