Week 8 Record: 1-6 | Overall: 35-25, 3rd in AL Central
Well, this was easily the worst week of baseball for the White Sox this year. After setting their sights on the division crown early in the week, a four-game sweep at the hands of the Indians sent the Sox – and the fan base – into a tailspin that resulted in losing the Central Division by one game. Due to a tiebreaker, the Sox will be the 7th seed entering the playoffs, playing Oakland in the first round.
Lots to talk about still this week, so let’s get into it!
Tale of the Tape
Game 54: White Sox 4 – Indians 7 | Box Score | Recap
Game 55: White Sox 3 – Indians 5 | Box Score | Recap
Game 56: White Sox 2 – Indians 3 | Box Score | Recap
Game 57: White Sox 4 – Indians 5 | Box Score | Recap
Game 58: White Sox 0– Cubs 10 | Box Score | Recap
Game 59: White Sox 9 – Reds 0 | Box Score | Recap
Game 60: White Sox 8 – Cubs 10 | Box Score | Recap
Jordan’s Weekly Wrap-Up Thoughts
Alright, let’s start with the negatives. There were A LOT of questionable decisions made during the Cleveland series. From Rodon in a high-leverage situation to Jose Ruiz versus Jose Ramirez, the White Sox certainly lost games that came back to bite them at the end of the season. Had the Sox won just one more game this week, they would’ve been the division winners. Instead, they fell from first to third and the 1st seed to the 7th in the matter of a week.
This, undoubtedly, did not sit well with fans, who couldn’t believe the Sox had coughed up a division that they had a 90% probability of winning. And, I get it, it’s frustrating. There are decisions Renteria made that felt inexcusable and out of place, even for those who never defended him in the first place. This all comes back to one thing particular: the expanded playoffs did not add any incentive towards winning the division. There are no byes for division winners, thus no additional benefit. Because of this, it appeared the White Sox decided to focus on figuring out who was “most ready” for the playoffs – for example, finding out if Carlos Rodon was ready to be thrown into a high-leverage situation.
Now, whether or not you agree with this strategy or its ultimate execution by Renteria is a different story – and one we will talk about later this afternoon in an article of mine. But the reality is this: no banner matters more than the one the team left standing at the end of the World Series gets to raise. If the Sox made moves that they felt prioritized that banner over the division one, then so be it. We can sit and criticize the moves once we have all the information available. But as of right now, the Sox are starting a series with Oakland in the face. The regular season no longer matters – and I hope the slumping Sox treat it that way. Robert had three hits yesterday. Moncada homered for the first time in forever on Saturday. 17 runs in two days is a nice start. Good things appear to be on the horizon.
Let’s hope this means a long playoff run for the South Siders.
Stats On 35th: This Week by the Numbers
This Week’s Numbers:
5.8, 6, 4, 60, 161
Heading into Sunday, the White Sox had just a 5.8% chance of drawing the Athletics as their first-round matchup. The heavy favorite – 40% chance – was the Yankees. Instead, because baseball is baseball, the White Sox will be facing off against the team they had the lowest chance of facing before games started on Sunday.
Despite having thrown just six innings in the major leagues, Garrett Crochet ended the season second in the majors in most 100+ mph pitches. Even more impressive than that, in my opinion, is that he has walked no one is his first couple of outings. This sort of confidence and strike-throwing ability will be crucial for the Sox in the playoffs.
After finishing the season at 35-25, the White Sox tied with the Indians for the fourth-best record in the American League. This, as I mentioned earlier, means that no matter the format, the White Sox would’ve been in the playoffs this year. Hopefully, this is something to hang your hats on as Sox fans after a rough week.
Say what you will about RBIs – and I certainly have said many things – but Jose Abreu did something pretty incredible this season. By racking up 60 RBIs in just 60 games, Jose Abreu was on a 162 RBI pace over a full season. That’s absolutely incredible, considering this would be one of the top 20 season totals of all time.
With so few positives this week, I’m choosing to focus on Garrett Crochet. Crochet was known for his fastball/slider combination coming out of Tennessee. Indeed, his slider is one of the best pitches I’ve ever seen. It’s 10.9 inches of break is 161% higher than the average slider at the same speed. Basically, Crochet’s slider is 161% better than a league-average slider thrown at the same speed he throws his. That’s absolutely insane, and I’m looking forward to Crochet’s growth over time.
Fan Question of the Week
Alright, even with the terrible end to the regular season, the White Sox are still heading to the playoffs on Tuesday. So, as a result, it’s time to shift our focus to the playoffs. Over the past few games, the White Sox have tried to get their slumping and struggling players the necessary at-bats to feel good for the playoffs. For some – Robert, Moncada – it seemed to work. For others – Encarnacion, Mazara – not so much. So, I wanted to hear what everyone’s ideal starting lineup and starting rotation would be heading into the playoffs against the Athletics.
First, my thoughts. The lineup is pretty straightforward and is based on best performers: 1) Anderson-SS 2) Moncada-3B 3) Jimenez-LF 4) Abreu-1B 5) Grandal-C 6) Robert-CF 7) McCann-DH 8) Engel-RF 9) Madrigal-2B
This lineup is complicated by Jimenez’s health first and foremost. If Jimenez cannot play LF, then pencil Mazara into RF and Engel into LF. However, there are rumors than Leury Garcia might be ready to play. In that case, I might have to entertain Garcia in RF over Engel. That would be a tough decision though. Basically: less Mazara and no Encarnacion. Even though I’d like to see more of McCann, it’s going to be hard to fit him in this lineup if it’s not fully healthy. If Eloy needs to DH, there’s no room for McCann.
Now, for pitching. I think Keuchel, based on experience, should pitch Game 1. I think the nerves will be heavier in Game 1, which I trust Keuchel to manage better. Fans seemed split between Giolito/Keuchel on Game 1. I think there’s a strong argument for either of them. Now, for Game 3. Ideally, the White Sox won’t need a Game 3. However, at some point, there is going to need to be a “Game 3 Starter” no matter which series it is. My proposal is this: Crochet opens for Dunning. 100 mph from the left side, followed by a crafty RHP. Those two couldn’t be more different from each other and couldn’t require any more different game plans. The White Sox might choose to go all hands on deck in a Game 3 scenario, which would make everyone available. But, if the Sox could go Crochet, Dunning, Heuer, Bummer, Colome, I’d have a hard time believing they’d lose. No matter what, the Sox need to be creative with their Game 3 Starter. Fans, based on responses, seem to agree with that and have moved on from the idea that Dane Dunning should be the go-to Game 3 option.
Now, to your responses. Thanks to all the fans who submitted lineups and rotations! There were over 250 replies in total, so you had to be SUPER unique to get on this list. But, for the most part, I feel all of you agree with what I outlined above – I’m glad we are on the game page. Seriously, thanks for participating all season – I look forward to doing this again next season as well!
1) @TLaVoie14: Fantastic lineup with protection for everyone. Love the idea for Game 3 too – it’s going to need to be something unconventional.
2) @whitesox2021: Great minds think alike on Game 3
3) @WhiteSoxMando: Great lineup. I appreciate ones that give everyone protection.
4) @joelrobertperez: Madrigal in the 2-hole is an interesting idea, as is Robert hitting ninth. This lineup, oddly enough, feels like it spreads the talent across all nine spots really well. I’m oddly intrigued. I’m on board with the rotation too.
5) @Chip41HP: I think you’re the only person that chose Rodon to start Game 3. I think it’s an interesting, out-of-the-box idea. His stuff looked good against both the Cubs and Indians (despite the result). If he got the Sox through 4 innings, I think they’d take that every time.
Highlights of the Week
Of these, there were very few. However, the Cleveland series and Saturday night’s matchup against the Cubs did provide us some highlights for the week!
1) Moncada homers for the first time in September
2) Garrett Crochet causes problems for the Cubs
3) Jose Abreu provides the spark the offense was missing
The Week Ahead: Wild Card Round in Oakland
Tuesday: White Sox @ Athletics, Game 1 – 2:00 CT on ESPN
Wednesday: White Sox @ Athletics, Game 2 – 2:00 CT on ESPN
Thursday: White Sox @ Athletics, Game 3 (if necessary) – TBD
We will keep you updated throughout the week as more information becomes available!
For those of you who have been loyal readers of this weekly recap throughout the year, I want to thank you for taking the time out to read through my thoughts, if only to catch up on some things you might’ve missed throughout the week. Both myself and the rest of the team at Sox On 35th are grateful for your continued support, and we look forward to bringing you playoff coverage for the first time in our page’s history.
Thanks for sticking with us – the best is yet to come!
Featured Photo: Brandon Anderson