Opinion: Chicago White Sox clinch AL Central, weigh possible rosters

(Photo Courtesy of ESPN)

As the regular season comes to a close, the Chicago White Sox have zeroed in on a spot for the 2021 playoffs. Considering the last time they won the AL Central was 2008, they were due for one.

The Sox beat out the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 23, 7-2, to clinch the AL Central. Heading into the game, they lead the Indians by 11 games in the division.

Now that they have won, it’s a little sketchy. The team has never made the playoffs back-to-back, ever. They are looking to do just that this year after a disappointing Wild-Card run last September. 

With the team being plagued by injuries this season, manager Tony La Russa hopes to bring back his star shortstop Tim Anderson full time. He is currently playing every other game, trying not to put too much pressure on his hamstring injury that put him on the 10-day IL. “He’s as good a shortstop as there is in Major League Baseball, whether it’s defense or offense, his whole game,” said La Russa. 

La Russa continued, “We’ve been really fortunate. Leury (García) has been outstanding. When Danny (Mendick) plays, he makes all the plays. No disrespect to them. But Tim is one of the best out there. When he plays, it helps spark everybody. Now, he’s doing it in the dugout as a cheerleader, but it’s not the same as when he plays. Getting him back will be a big boost for us.”

Lucas Giolito made his return from the 10-day IL after suffering from a strained left hamstring. He made his return against the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 14, striking out eight batters in four innings. The Sox won the game, 9-3, but ended up dropping the other two games to the Halos.  The Sox bullpen was able to stun Angels star Shohei Ohtani, who struck out a total of seven times during the course of the three games. 

Pitcher Ryan Tepera is currently on the 10-day IL with a finger injury. He is joined by teammate Andrew Vaughn who is currently nursing a back injury. Adam Engel is also with them dealing with a shoulder injury. 

The possible roster of the 2021 White Sox playoff squad is not all that surprising. Star players like Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn, and Adam Engel are almost guaranteed their spots in the starting lineup.

Possibilities include outfielder Billy Hamilton, Brian Goodwin, and newcomer Gavin Sheets. Sheets made his debut earlier this season and has made a big impact in the Sox lineup. In his short career, he’s already hit nine home runs and driven in 26 runs. 

The Sox bullpen is looking strong heading into the postseason. Starters will most likely include Carlos Rodon, Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, and Lucas Giolito. Relievers include Ryan Tepera, Aaron Bummer, Craig Kimbrel, and Liam Hendriks. Hendriks has been absolutely lights out for the Sox this season, recording a record 34 saves this season. 

The White Sox went to Arlington, TX this past weekend and faced off against the Texas Rangers. The White Sox took two out of three games in that series. The team will finish out the rest of the regular season in three series. One against the Cleveland Indians, which they are in the middle of right now, and two against the Detroit Tigers.

+ posts