If the Indians plan on making it into the 2013 postseason party, the next four days could go a long way towards making that possible. After dropping two of three to the Royals in what could only be described as a monumental disappointment, the Indians will travel to Chicago to take on the last place White Sox over the next four days. Given where the White Sox currently find themselves and how their season has gone, this should serve as a real opportunity for the Indians to make up ground in the playoff picture.
Entering play tonight, the White Sox sit in last place in the AL Central with a record of 58-87. If not for the lowly Astros out west, the White Sox would be the owners of the worst record in the league. It’s evident from the way they have played, the age of some of their veteran players, and the moves that have been made that a massive rebuild is about to be underway, if not already. Paul Konerko appears to be a shell of his former self. Adam Dunn is upset with all the losing and threatening retirement. Alex Rios, his massive contract, and the up and down nature of his play is long gone.
As a result, the once formidable White Sox offense has experienced a bit of a power outage in 2013. They’re 29th in all of baseball in runs scored. Their .250 team batting average ranks 19th. Slugging and On Base percentage, the newest hallmarks for offensive effectiveness both come in ranked 28th at .377 and .303 respectively. Perhaps most surprising is the lack of power. Typically the Sox rank among the best home run hitting teams in the league thanks to their personnel and the hitters ball park that is U.S. Cellular Field. This season they have hit only 128, good enough for 22nd overall.
The White Sox hope they will be able to turn all of this around provided some of their younger, more talented players can find a way to kick their performance up a notch. Most notably, Dayan Viciedo and Avisail Garcia are two such players who are believed to be the next big thing. Both players possess the talent, but they will have to find a way to channel it into on field results. And they’ll need them to find their way at the big league level sooner rather than later. Konerko is quickly approaching retirement age and there is a very real possibility that Adam Dunn could be gone by the start of next season along with Alexei Ramirez,
Whereas the offense has been among one of the worst in all of baseball, the pitching staff for the White Sox has ranked right around the middle of the pack in most statistical categories. As it turns out, losing Jake Peavy to the Red Sox didn’t completely send them spiraling towards the bottom of the barrel. In fact, their ERA and WHIP is both better than the Indians and they have turned in 82 quality starts to the Indians 66. Of course, it helps to have Chris Sale and his near microscopic ERA and massive strikeout totals on your side.
Beyond Chris Sale, the White Sox starting rotation rounds out with Jose Quintana, John Danks, Hector Santiago, and Andre Rienzo. This underwhelming list of names doesn’t exactly elicit fear, but they have found a way to turn into a reliable group of starting pitchers. With a bit of tinkering and some retooling the White Sox could set themselves up with one of the better pitching staffs in all of baseball.
However, for the time being the White Sox are one of the worst teams in baseball. If the Indians want to overtake the Rays and play for a chance to make it into the ALDS, they need to win at least three of their next four games against the White Sox. It won’t be easy, though. The White Sox are an arch rival and as such, they will more than likely come out ready to play the role of spoiler. Robin Ventura will have his team ready to play.