The Chicago White Sox are in first place at the All Star break with a 47-38 record, which is 3 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians and 3.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. The second half holds a lot of challenges ahead for the White Sox as they try and win their first division title since 2008. The Sox open the second half with a 10 game road trip that starts against the Kansas City Royals, followed by a four game series against the Boston Red Sox with Kevin Youkilis returning to Boston for the first time since the trade that sent him to Chicago. The road trip ends with a big three game series against the Detroit Tigers. The two teams that are chasing the White Sox is the Indians, who they have six games left against and the Tigers, who they have 10 games left against. If the Sox want to win the AL Central, they have to win a majority of these games against the two teams that are within striking distance.
With the trade deadline just 18 days away, the White Sox will probably be looking for multiple veteran relievers to take some pressure off all the youngsters the Sox currently have in their bullpen. The White Sox are waiting to see if starting pitcher John Danks is going to be able to get healthy before the deadline as they decide if they will set their sights on a starter. Phil Humber is set to return to the rotation in the next few days to send Dylan Axelrod to the bullpen most likely. So if they White Sox are able to get Humber and Danks back before the deadline, then that will be a lot like getting two veteran pitchers for the staff. I still expect GM Kenny Williams and Manager Robin Ventura to be eyeing some more relief help.
A few other things pitching wise that the Sox need to win the AL Central are 1.) starters Chris Sale and Jake Peavy continue to be the “aces” they have been all season, 2.) Danks to come back strong from his injury and 3.) some of the younger pitchers in the bullpen like Addison Reed, Hector Santiago and Nate Jones continue to grow in the big innings down the stretch.
Offensively, the Sox need 1.) Alex Rios and AJ Pierzynski keep up the HUGE seasons they are having, 2.) Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Kevin Youkilis continue to provide veteran leadership for the offense, 3.) Alejandro De Aza continues to set the stage at the top of the lineup and 4.) Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham have at least one prolonged hot streak to help take some of the load off the veterans.
So the Chicago White Sox are positioned nicely to be a contender for the rest of the season and it should be a tight race down to the last few weeks of the season. I am excited as hell to watch this team compete for the AL Central title and hopefully eventually an AL pennant and then a World Series.