The White Sox have been one of the hottest teams in the A.L. this year, but are they good enough to earn a World Series bid? ESPN’s Dan Mullen thinks so, as he picked them to face off against the Dodgers in his September predictions feature.
“The White Sox might seem more like a young, up-and-coming team than a true World Series threat for this season, but they actually lead the AL in run differential,” Mullen said. “They have a nice one-two punch at the top of the rotation with Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel and also feature a bullpen loaded with strikeout artists and that should play well in October.
“But let's be real: The reason I'm making this pick is that offense. Power up and down the lineup is the No. 1 thing I look for come playoff time, and the White Sox have one full of guys who can take you deep at any moment.”
It’s nice for White Sox fans to see their team in the national spotlight, echoing sentiment we’ve heard out of the South Side clubhouse since the outset of the season. Even better, the White Sox have started walking the walk, in addition to talking the talk.
But realistically, the White Sox have tough competition directly in front of them. Despite a recent six-game skid within the division, the Twins showed the White Sox on Tuesday that they won’t give up their division quietly. And for all the hype surrounding José Abreu and his MVP caliber season, you could make the case that Nelson Cruz has been better.
Then there are the Cleveland Indians, who can dominate a team from the other side of the spectrum. Even with Mike Clevinger out of the rotation, no offense wants to run into Shane Bieber et al. for a playoff series. Across MLB, Cleveland’s 2.81 team ERA ranks second, while their 1.05 WHIP ranks first. But more importantly, the Indians are one of the best teams at limiting the longball-- aka the bread and butter of the White Sox offense. Cleveland has only surrendered 37 home runs all season, tied for third-fewest in the league.
Outside the division, things don’t get much easier. The Rays and Yankees have both been hit hard by the injury bug, but have both shown they can still contend. If either team can get healthy by the end of the month, they can make noise in the postseason. In the west, some dismiss the A’s for beating up on a bad division. But the addition of Tommy LaStella will help to round out their lineup and they feature a fearsome bullpen with four guys sporting an ERA under 2.00, and a fifth sitting at 2.03.
None of this is meant to throw water on what the White Sox have accomplished up to this point, or to say you shouldn’t be excited for the rest of the season. White Sox fans have every reason to be fired up for a postseason run as the team is one of most dynamic in the league. It’s just meant as a reminder that despite a torrid run, the road to the pennant won’t be easy.