The Chicago White Sox have started off the season with a 7-6 record and in second place in the AL Central. Jose Abreu has gotten off to a hot start in his rookie year and Chris Sale is pitching like he wants to win the Cy Young. For the Sox to continue this early season success, three main factors will need to contribute in order for the Sox to clinch their spot in the postseason. These three main factors include the following.
1. The Back End of the Rotation
The top three guys in the rotation—Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks—are guys that have had early success and Robin Ventura doesn’t have to be too concerned about. The other two guys—Felipe Paulino and Erik Johnson—are two guys that will need to vastly improve in order for the Sox to make the playoffs.
In Paulino’s previous start, he gave up six runs to Cleveland Indians team that scored 12 runs in the game. Paulino is also coming off of an injury that kept him out of the entire 2013 season. Johnson is in his first full season with the Sox and has to have a consistent first year for this rotation to compete with the best in the league.
2. The Bullpen
The bullpen has struggled since the season has started. Matt Lindstrom has already blown two saves in the first 13 games of the season. Ronald Belisario is pitching like he’s never faced major league hitters before and has ERA over 15.00. The only bright spot in the entire bullpen has been Maikel Cleto, who hasn’t given up a run through his first six appearances this year. If the Sox are going to be in contention for the playoffs, the bullpen is going to have to make an improvement over the debacle we’ve seen so far.
3. Jose Abreu needs to stay healthy
It is nice that the Sox are getting guys on base but they are going to need someone to drive them home. Jose Abreu is showing that he can be the power hitter in the lineup that can hit home runs and drive runs in. For Abreu to continue his recent success, he will have to remain healthy to help the Sox with scoring runs. With Avisail Garcia out for the year, Abreu needs to stay healthy to continue to be that thump in the lineup that teams will be afraid about.
Coming into this year, the White Sox weren’t thinking about playoffs. They were more thinking player development and giving the youngsters extensive playing time. But if the pitching can take a step forward and Abreu stays healthy, the playoffs can soon be in their future.