The marathon of the MLB season is down to a sprint as there are now less than two weeks left. With so little time left, teams around baseball are fighting for their postseason lives.
One team that has solidified its position as a playoff team is the Chicago White Sox. With just 11 games left in the season, the White Sox hold a 10.5-game lead in the AL Central over the Cleveland Indians
With the postseason a foregone conclusion for Chicago, let’s take a look at the White Sox and how they stack up in the playoffs.
At 85-66, the White Sox would currently sit in the third spot in the AL playoffs if the season ended today. Sitting five games back of the Astros, though, they are fighting to move up to the second spot.
Currently, the White Sox have the 14th easiest remaining schedule as opponents have a combined winning percentage of .491. While they have two games left with the Reds, they also have a combined nine games against the Tigers and Indians.
Looking At The Odds This Year
With the White Sox all but guaranteed to win the AL Central, the betting odds for Chicago revolve around the American League and World Series.
In regards to winning the American League pennant, Chicago has the third-best odds of winning at +310. The White Sox are tied for the fourth-best odds of winning the World Series at +750.
The White Sox have been one of the best offenses in baseball all season long. In terms of scoring, they rank sixth averaging 4.94 runs per game.
In other team offensive stats, they rank fifth in batting average (.254), 11th in slugging percentage (.418), third in on base percentage (.334), and sixth in run differential (+144).
Reigning MVP Jose Abreu currently leads the team in home runs (29) and runs batted (113) while hitting .264/.349/.489.
Aside from Abreu, other significant contributors include
Yasmani Grandal (22 HR), Tim Anderson (.302 avg., 14 HR), and Yoan Moncada (.264, 12 HR).
When you also throw in the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn, and Cesar Hernandez, this is a team that can rake from top to bottom. While he is still a longshot, Vaughn has been good enough that he is +25000 to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
For as good as the offense has been, the defense for the White Sox has been just as good. They rank fifth in the majors in scoring defense, allowing just 3.98 runs per game.
In terms of their pitching, the White Sox pitching staff ranks sixth in the majors with a 3.75 ERA.
The pitching staff has been spectacular for Chicago. In fact, they have two pitchers who rank in the top five in terms of odds to win the AL Cy Young Award.
Lance Lynn is third in terms of odds of winning at +1200. This season, Lynn is 10-5 with a 2.47 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and he has 166 strikeouts in 146 innings.
Not to be outdone, Rodon is 12-5 with a 2.47 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and he has 181 strikeouts in 127.2 innings. He is +5500 to win the Cy Young award.
Other notable starters for Chicago include Dylan Cease (12-7, 4.09 ERA, 212 strikeouts) and Lucas Giolito (10-9, 3.70 ERA, 192 strikeouts).
In the bullpen, the White Sox are deep as they can go to righties Michael Kopech (3.69 ERA), Liam Hendricks (2.77 ERA, 34 saves), or Craig Kimbrel (5.68 ERA). On the left side, the White Sox generally turn to Aaron Bummer (3.86 ERA) or Garrett Crochet (2.66 ERA).
Likely First Matchup
It seems increasingly likely that their first matchup will be a repeat of the 2005 World Series as they will take on the Houston Astros. In the head-to-head matchup this season, the White Sox went just 2-5 against Houston.
The two wins that Chicago had were both at home, which is why it is all the more important that they try to make a run at the second overall seed over the last two weeks.
In the seven games played against the Astros, Chicago was outscored by Houston 35-23.
Area of Concern
There are two areas of concern that stick out for the White Sox. The first is their play on the road. This season, Chicago has been really solid at home (49-27), but they have been under .500 on the road (36-39).
Given that Houston is 47-28 at home, that could be a big factor in the opening series.
Another issue is Craig Kimbrel. As one of their biggest trade deadline acquisitions, Kimbrel has struggled a bit with the White Sox.
With the Cubs, Kimbrel was 2-3 with a 0.49 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and had 23 saves. For the White Sox, though, he is just 2-2 with a 5.68 ERA and 1.316 WHIP.
To help shorten the game for manager Tony La Russa, a lethal Kimbrel could be huge.
Can They Win The World Series?
Undoubtedly, the answer is yes. They have a lethal offense, shutdown pitching staff, and a bullpen that is capable of closing out games.
The biggest issue for Chicago is their play as of late. Sometimes the postseason is less about the best team and more about who is playing the best baseball.
At 4-6 in their last 10, the White Sox have been playing some uninspired baseball as of late. If they can right the ship and get on a roll heading into the playoffs, they could be a tough matchup.
The road play is a concern, but this is definitely a team that can make a run at their first World Series championship in 16 years.