The Fourth of July is a time for fireworks cookouts and arguments with drunk uncles. It is also the time for the White Sox to turn their season around.
On Monday, the White Sox will host the Minnesota Twins to kick off a seven-game homestand. It also marks the first of nineteen consecutive games against divisional opponents. Fifteen of those nineteen are against the Twins and Guardians, who the White Sox are chasing in the Central Division standings.
On paper, the White Sox has the most manageable second-half schedule of any team in the MLB. Part of the reason why is because they have so many games against divisional opponents.
Entering Saturday’s game against the White Sox are 5.5 games back of the first-place Twins and 4.5 back from the Guardians. Monday presents the White Sox with an excellent opportunity to begin chipping away at the division lead. By the end of this nineteen-game stretch, the White Sox could see themselves atop the Central Division standings. But should the White Sox continue their run of sub-par baseball, they risk digging themselves into a hole they cannot climb out of. There is no reason a team as talented as the White Sox can’t take 12 of those 19.
The American League Central has been the only reason the White Sox are hanging around the playoff race to this point in the season. If they were in the AL East, the White Sox would be 20.5 games back of first place. In the AL West, they would be 14.5 games back.
Getting to play the Detroit Tigers and Kansas Royals 19 times during the year certainly helps. The lowly Royals and Tigers are both in the middle of a rebuild. The Royals have already traded away Carlos Santana to the Mariners, with more moves likely to follow. Minnesota has benefitted from these two a combined 22 times already.
The good news for the White Sox is they played well against divisional opponents in recent history. In 2021, they had a winning record against every team in the division except the Royals. The biggest reason they were able to win the division by such a healthy margin game was their 13-6 record against the Twins and 12-7 record against the Tigers.
The bad news is that the White Sox have been bad this season regardless of who the opponent has been. This includes the division. They are just 7-12 against the AL Central this season. While it is true that injuries have plagued the White Sox for a second consecutive season, The White Sox were able to win 93 games last season despite injuries.
If they want to win 90 games this season, they must go at least 54-33 the rest of the way. Last year the White Sox were 54-35 at the All-Star break, so anything is possible. However, given the way the White Sox are playing, it is unlikely. Bad baserunning, sloppy defense, lack of power, and poor managing have summed up the season.
The White Sox are tied for third in the MLB in errors and own the 28th worst fielding percentage. Yasmani Grandal leads the MLB in passed balls, despite missing the last 18-plus games with an injury.
The White Sox pitching staff ranks just 21st in the MLB in ERA with a 4.07. Part of the reason is that they have handed out so many free passes. Their 280 walks as a team are the fifth most in the MLB.
The offense hasn’t been able to generate any power. The White Sox rank 25th in runs scored and 26th in home runs.
If they do not correct this, they could do irreparable damage to their playoff hopes over the next 19 games.