The White Sox have been disappointing this season to say the very least. Coming into Tuesday night’s game, the Sox were 4.5 games out after another pathetic showing against the Yankees on Monday night. While the season has been depressing to say the least, there still is some hope for the White Sox in the AL central. Here are 5 reasons I think the Sox can turn it around and get back to the postseason in 2011.
1. Adam Dunn will be better in the last couple months.
Adam Dunn has maybe been the worst off-season free agent signing in White Sox history, at least so far. Hitting a depressing .165 this season is the worst in the majors, and historically one of the worst batting averages by any player that plays every day. For a player that hits 38 homeruns a season with an average around .250, saying that Dunn is having an off year would just be pointing out the very obvious. The old notion that it is all in his head is now becoming hard to believe. His swing seems slow and he just looks uncomfortable. With all of that being said, he cannot hit any worse than he has been. Talking with Frank Thomas over the weekend, The Big Hurt told Dunn to go into the cages as often as possible and try changing up his swing. One would have to think that Dunn would take some of that advice and try to make this season not a historic embarrassment at least.
2. Alex Rios will be benched for Alejandro De Aza.
For the Sox to get back into the race, I think that a big and bold decision has to be made, and that is to sit Alex Rios for the rest of the season. I get that he makes a ton of money and sitting him would not be finically smart for the club. But when you look at what has to be done for the better of the team on the field, Rios has just been an atrocity and the Sox cannot afford to keep trotting him in center. De Aza had his 15 seconds of fame when he hit the game winning homerun in his season debut against the Tigers, but has yet to get a hit since then. I still believe that you give him the at-bats because he has had great success in the minors this year, and provides a little more speed on the bases. I am also a big believer in a young player being hungry to stay in the majors and will play his hardest every play. Something that Rios has had problems with this year as well.
3. Starting pitching has been fantastic.
The one bright spot in the 2011 season has been that White Sox pitching, and more specifically the starters, have been just great. The Sox team ERA is 3.70 which is 5th best in the American League. Mark Buehrle is having a career year. Philip Humber has been a remarkable surprise coming out of spring training. Gavin Floyd has been pretty much unhittable after the All-Star break. John Danks started 0-8 but has been very impressive as of late. Jake Peavy has had his problems, but had a really impressive start in his last game against the Yankees. It has always been said that good pitching will beat good hitting, and the way the Sox have pitched this year, they have the chance to shut down any offence that is facing them.
4. Bullpen has been solid.
What was once a problem at the beginning of the season, as of recent the Sox bullpen has been a big strong spot. Sergio Santos has become a very reliable closer. Chris Sale has been a dominant lefty coming in late innings. Jessie Crain has been a great right hander coming in late. Matt Thornton, while struggled mightily in the beginning of the year, has been the Thornton in recent years recently. Also, the addition of Jason Frasor will only help the workload that Crain has been burdened with. When you look at the effectiveness of the starters, and look at the bullpen being able to shorten games, White Sox pitching looks dangerous for the next 2 months of the season.
5. The Sox competition is nothing to be scared of.
The Tigers are leaders in the AL central, but they are team that is very severely flawed with their shaky bullpen, and lack of starters not named Verlander. The Indians are a team that was not expected to do anything this season, and have been having trouble scoring runs lately and seem to be falling by the wayside. The Twins are always there every year, but have had inconsistent pitching, and have been plagued by injuries. If the White Sox can find a way to wake up their offence, they have a shot to make up some ground the months to come where they face their division foes.
While time is running out for the Sox, I believe that taking over this division is possible because of these 5 reasons. Of course, these things may not go to plan and the Sox could once again fall short in the division race. With 2 months to go we could either be watching some exciting Sox baseball, or continue to watch frustrating Sox baseball.