If the White Sox want any chance at stealing the AL Central Division after an 8-21 start to the season, it is going to come down to the starting pitching.
In the last week, the White Sox have cut their deficit in the AL Central from 9 games to 6.5. That’s thanks in part to a 5-1 stretch where White Sox starters logged six consecutive quality starts.
During those games, the rotation has allowed just nine earned runs in 39 1/3 innings which is good enough for a 2.06 ERA. They are also eating innings which reduces stress on the bullpen.
On Sunday, Lance Lynn threw his second straight quality start after starting the season with a 7.51 ERA in his first eight outings. Lynn threw six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits, and struck out six Royals. It provided a much-needed confidence boost for Lynn and the team.
“The starters as a whole are doing what we’re capable of, and that’s what we’re trying to do day in and day out,” Lynn said after Sunday’s victory. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, it puts the bullpen in a good spot, and I’ve seen them really take off too. And then when we’re throwing the ball well, the defense is making plays, and the offense is scoring. So, we just have to keep playing good baseball.”
The White Sox own the second-best ERA in baseball over their last three games. However, the pitching staff still sits 27th overall in the MLB with a 4.99 ERA.
Minnesota leads the division and has the third-lowest ERA in baseball (3.40). Cleveland sits tenth in ERA (3.91) in the MLB and second place in the division. The trend continues down the line. The third-place Tigers own a 4.45 ERA which is good enough for 21st in baseball, while the Royals are one of just four teams who have a team ERA higher than the White Sox at 5.15. This trend is no coincidence.
AL Central Divsion Standings
- Minnesota Twins 3.40 ERA
- Cleveland Guardians 3.91 ERA
- Detroit Tigers 4.45 ERA
- Chicago White Sox 4.99 ERA
- Kansas City Royals 5.15 ERA
As it stands, the White Sox have only one starting pitcher without an ERA north of 4.00. As the ERA gets lower, the win total will continue to rise.
Lynn’s outing passed the baton to the next White Sox starter as they try to build off each other’s performance.
Lucas Giolito allowed one run over six innings, with four strikeouts, on Saturday. Giolito has gone six-plus innings in each of his last eight starts. He has logged six quality starts during that span and has the lowest ERA in the rotation, at 3.62.
On Friday, Michael Kopech faced the minimum 24 hitters and racked up ten strikeouts through eight innings. The 26-year-old became just the third pitcher in franchise history to throw eight-plus innings, giving up one hit or less, strikeout ten-plus, and issue no walks. You have to go back to Floyd Bannister’s September 13th outing in 1987 to find the last White Sox pitcher to accomplish that feat.
In the White Sox’s lone loss of the six-game stretch, Dylan Cease went 6.1 innings allowing just three runs. It was his second quality start in as many outings after failing to make it to the sixth inning in four straight starts from April 22nd to May 8th.
Even Mike Clevinger put together a solid six-inning performance in his last start against the Guardians. However, with him heading to the IL the White Sox are going to have to rely on some internal options to step up.
The White Sox are trending in the right direction, but there is still work to be done. The reality is that they are still ten games under .500. If they want any chance of reviving their season, they will live and die by the starting pitchers.
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they will live and die by the starting pitchers.