Well, the 2020 MLB Playoffs are upon us. As baseball finally moves into its Bubble phase, 16 teams are squaring off to determine this year’s World Series champion. While it’s hard to think that there won’t be an asterisk next to the 2020 title, a champion will be crowned.
The MLB is a fickle beast. Star-driven and tank-friendly, teams in the dumpster one year can be the king of the mountain the next. With that, stakes are high for almost every team as they make their playoff run, with sought-after stars often heading for greener pastures if they feel their squad can’t get over the hump.
We’re looking at each of the MLB playoff contenders and diving into what’s at stake for each team, the odds of making a deep run, and key storylines to watch.
Let’s hit the Chicago White Sox, and their chances at securing a ring in 2020.
Expectations: Everything from here on is gravy.
The White Sox were supposed to be good this year, but not THIS GOOD. By rebuilding through the draft, and absolutely fleecing teams like the Red Sox and Nationals in deals for prospects, the White Sox were looking towards the future of the ballclub.
That future came early in 2020, as the brakes fell off this runaway train of a roster. The White Sox are too good in 2020, and it bears repeating that this team was supposed to be a few seasons away from success, especially in a solid AL Central.
That being said, making the playoffs is the success of this season. As the playoffs solidify, the White Sox are slated to face the New York Yankees, a team with postseason experience both in deep runs and in winner-take-all Wildcard games. The White Sox don’t have that kind of experience, but then again, do they really need it in a year like 2020?
What’s Working for Them: Everything.
The White Sox are a very good baseball team, and they’ll only get better with time. Franchise All-Star José Abreu is having a stellar season that might land him AL MVP honors. Tim Anderson is once again proving his place in the “Best AL Shortstop” conversation. Even offseason acquisition Dallas Keuchel is having a Southside renaissance in 2020, posting a 2.04 ERA, a 1.099 WHIP, and an ERA+ over 200.
But these veterans only make up half of the story. It’s the young guns of this Chicago team that really push the envelope.
The White Sox built a solid core for the future over the last few years, and now they are seeing the benefits tenfold. Eloy Jimenez‘s sophomore season is far better than his first as he hits just below .300, with double-digit dingers. Nick Madrigal, who took over at second base midseason, is hitting .348, which is better than he hit in his minor league career.
The main offensive story for the White Sox was the explosive introduction of Luis Robert. Despite cooling off in September, Robert’s 2020 was monstrous. In August, the Cuban centerfielder hit just below .300, and posted an OPS of 1.015, parking 9 home runs and driving in 20 RBIs.
On the bump, the White Sox had their first no-hitter since Phil Humber’s perfect game, when Lucas Giolito blanked the Pirates. Dylan Cease has shown flashes of brilliance, posting a 3.52 ERA over his 5-3 record, but his WHIP still sits higher than he’d like at 1.435. Reynaldo Lopez began the season injured and has continued his rollercoaster performances, but when locked in, the guy can be lights out.
Pitchers like Dane Dunning, Codi Heuer, and Matt Foster are showing up for the White Sox. Also a fun, but very scary, fact for the rest of the AL Central: every pitcher mentioned in the last two paragraphs is 26 or younger.
This White Sox team isn’t going away anytime soon.
What Might Hold Them Back: Intagibles.
We can talk about the inexperience of this roster in the playoffs, but frankly, that’s no fun. We can always talk about the “act like you’ve been there” mentality of veterans, but that’s too easy.
What’s going to hold this team back are the intangibles. This is a team that is 5-6 in one-run games. When playing against teams under .500, the ChiSox are smashing pitchers to the tune of a .303 average. Against teams over .500? A rough .236.
This team will be challenged in the playoffs, for sure, but how will they react and adapt? There’s no way to know. Those intangibles could trip up Chicago’s World Series dreams.
Storyline to Watch
This Chicago White Sox team is full of hype and swagger. There’s no real storyline here other than, “Have you seen this team? They’re nuts!”
Getting to the postseason felt like too lofty a goal at the beginning of the pre-COVID season, but now… I mean, there’s literally no way to know just how high the Chicago White Sox can fly.
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