2021 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox made the playoffs last season, so they gained the benefit of postseason experience. They learned what it was like to face postseason pressure. Yet, they did so after a season which was just 60 games due to the pandemic. This team now has to take the next step of playing a full 162 games, and going through the grind, and still being ready and able to deliver in October.

The White Sox had the benefit of the pandemic season’s extra playoff spots last year. They were a No. 7 seed, a benefit which won’t attach to this season, which does not have the same playoff format as 2020. The road to the postseason will be tougher. Yet, the White Sox do figure to be in the running for a playoff spot. This team has plenty of talent plus the veteran pitching to support the larger effort to return to October.

What Happened Last Year

The White Sox went 35-25 in a shortened season, good enough to make the playoffs. The White Sox didn’t beat out the Cleveland Indians or the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central, but they still got into the postseason in the adjusted format mentioned above. The White Sox witnessed the emergence of a young ace last year. Lucas Giolito was a sensation, and just in case people doubted his ability to perform under pressure, he dominated the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of a best-of-three playoff series. The White Sox didn’t win that series – Oakland lost Giolito’s Game 1 but then scrambled to win Games 2 and 3 – but they found an ace they can count on this year. Having a stopper who can put an end to a losing streak is a very valuable commodity in baseball. Most teams don’t have No. 1 pitchers as good as Giolito. That’s a real edge for the White Sox this coming season, and if there is any real chance for them to knock off the Minnesota Twins, it starts with the fact that the ChiSox have a far better ace. Minnesota’s best pitcher is Jose Berrios, not nearly in Giolito’s league.

Offseason Changes

The White Sox have a weak back end of the starting rotation – their No. 4 and No. 5 starters could be a problem this season – but they upgraded at the No. 3 starter spot by signing Lance Lynn, a well-traveled and dependable veteran righthander who was with the Texas Rangers last year. Lynn will beef up the starting rotation, giving the White Sox a 1-2-3 combination of Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Lynn. The top three starters will have to be excellent in order to offset the struggles this team will have when Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon take the mound. Having Liam Hendriks as the closer – signed from the Oakland Athletics – is a huge plus.

2021 Outlook

The White Sox need their top three starters to be great, and for the back end of their bullpen to thrive on the days when their fourth and fifth starters are pitching. If that can happen, the White Sox have the hitting to compete with the Twins for first place in the division. Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada – these are quality hitters the White Sox will put in the batting order every night. The front end of the rotation, and then Hendriks as the closer, have to be on top of their game. If they are, this team can win the division. As is, the Minnesota Twins have fewer holes in their lineup, but the White Sox are going to push them hard.

Pick: 2nd In American League Central

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