We are a week into September and the White Sox are leading the AL Central. It gets more exciting with each win and dreams of the playoffs don’t seem too far-fetched. It’s hard to feel entirely certain because memories of 2012, when the White Sox were up three games in the division with 15 to play and wound up in second by three games, still linger. Robin Ventura didn’t have the 16-team safety net, though, so things are looking good.
Things are feeling good, too. The Sox have a player of the month (José Abreu) two players of the week (Abreu again and Lucas Giolito), a rookie of the month (Luis Robert), and, just for the hell of it, one of the prettiest no-hitters you’ll ever see (Giolito). The White Sox are rolling.
Abreu is the best first baseman in Chicago, riding a 22-game hitting streak with 13 home runs and a slash line of .314/.356/.610. Tim Anderson at the top of the order and Nick Madrigal at the bottom are putting balls in play and getting on base. Neither one walks very much, but if they both continue to hit above .300 it doesn’t really matter. Then there is Robert, the aforementioned rookie of the month, who hits bombs like this and makes catches like this. Will it translate to a full season? Who cares when we are getting a two-month highlight film.
The offense is the draw this season, but the pitching hasn’t been too shabby either. Giolito and Dallas Keuchel — who just hit the IL with back spasms — have been stable at the top of the rotation and Dane Dunning is making a case for more starts. While it would be nice to see Carlos Rodon back, it might be better to let him sit out the rest of the season in hopes of a healthy 2021. Dylan Cease has been inconsistent, but what fourth or fifth starter isn’t? That leaves Gio Gonzalez and TBD to pick up the slack, and…it could be worse?
The most pleasant surprise has been the effectiveness of the bullpen, especially knowing how fickle relievers can be. Alex Colomé has continued his form from a season ago and so has Evan Marshall. Aaron Bummer was looking good before injury pretty much ended his season. Rookie Matt Foster has been great and Ricky Renteria has been able to cobble together a decent unit thus far.
There are a few clouds on the horizon with more games against the Twins and Cleveland, then that final series against the Cubs seems to be getting bigger and bigger. If both teams need wins to secure division titles, it will be the most fun crosstown series since 1906.
Speaking of which, 2020 looks like the closest we’ve ever had to repeating that World Series. It would be a real disappointment to see a playoff bubble prevent a crosstown matchup from truly taking place across town. Even without fans in the seats, Chicago would be electric. Please, Major League Baseball, don’t go to neutral sites for this.