A few days ago Lucas Giolito talked about the White Sox not making the same mistakes as last season.
“We kind of made the mistake of letting off the gas a little bit towards the end, especially after we clinched,” Giolito said. “And so I think we learned from that mistake.”
If there was a lesson learned then you could have fooled me. The White Sox are limping toward the postseason. They have an 8-10 record this month and are 4-6 in their last ten games. During their last five losses, they have scored just 11 runs.
The White Sox has turned into the baseball equivalent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One day they are blowing out the Texas Rangers then they are dropping two of three to the lowly Detroit Tigers. The offense will erupt for ten runs one game then get shut out the next.
The White Sox are not short on confidence. But their .500 record since the All-Star break has many scratching their heads. There is no denying that the White Sox have feasted off off an easy divisional schedule. If they were in any other division they would be battling for the second Wild Card spot.
However, there is also no denying the talent on the roster. Their lineup features multiple All-Stars, a batting champion, Gold Glove winners, and a league MVP. Their starting rotation features multiple All-Stars and a Cy-Young Award winner. The bullpen has a future Hall of Famer and the American League Leader in saves.
The White Sox also had to overcome large blows to their lineup due to injury. Their 40-man roster can be commended for stepping up and keeping this team afloat. But the majority of the lineup is now healthy. The excuses are running out. On July 20th the White Sox had a 58-37 record. Since then they have gone 27-29.
Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jimenez, and Jose Abreu have played together a total of three times during the 2021 season. The White Sox went 3-0 in those games and averaged 11.3 runs per game.
All five were in the lineup on Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers and the White Sox could only muster three runs in a 5-3 loss. This White Sox team has shown they are capable of beating anyone. They have also proven that no win is a given.
“You never know what to expect,” Dallas Keuchel told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s kind of like, ‘Hey flip a coin what’s going to happen.’ Are we going to come out really strong, like we know we can? Or are we going to come out and not put all three phases of the game together? I don’t know. I’d like to say I’ve seen a lot, but I know I haven’t seen it all. When that time comes, I know we’ll try our best, but I would like to see all three phases put together.”
Keuchel is correct in his assessment that the White Sox needs to put all three phases together. But the White Sox formula for winning games this season is simple. Offensively they need to play at the high level they are capable of on a nightly basis. When the White Sox score four runs or more, they are 71-16. When they score three runs or fewer, they are 14-50.
But time is running out on establishing consistency and red flags are popping up everywhere. Carlos Rodon is dealing with lingering shoulder soreness, leaving his playoff availability in question. Dallas Keuchel has been awful, carrying around a 5.18 ERA. Meanwhile, their high-priced trade deadline acquisition Crag Kimbrel has gotten torched to the tune of a 5.68 ERA in a White Sox uniform.
Part of the team’s poor performance has been due to Tony La Russa resting players. They have rarely played with their lineup at full strength. But with 11 games remaining in the season, the clock is ticking. Large questions remain and patience is wearing thin.