MLB: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees

The White Sox Are Good?

Following a 6-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night, the White Sox moved to 10-3 over their last 13 games. The simplest explanation here is, “12 of those games were against the Twins, Tigers, and Royals,” but at least they’re averaging 5.6 runs per game over that stretch while only allowing 3.7, what a good team should do to bad ones.  For an outfit which periodically flirted with historically bad Orioles and Royals teams for worst record, this certainly marks the most successful part of the season.  Here are a couple reasons why they’ve been winning beyond their soft opposition:

  • Carlos Rodon didn’t start the year until mid-June, due to offseason shoulder surgery, and from a run prevention perspective, he’s been excellent in July and August.  After a 4.55 ERA in June, he’s posted a 1.88 and 1.80 ERA respectively in the two months since.  DRA sees his performance as purely luck driven, while FIP believes he has been more of a league average starter propped up by good batted ball luck. xwOBA sees him as pitching quite well, as he is allowing the least hard contact in his career, and despite his low strikeout totals, he’s managed double digit swinging strike totals in six of his last eight outings.  We’ll see how the rest of the year plays out, as DRA predicted Dylan Covey crashing back down to earth, but having a guy take the mound with a sub-2.00 ERA for a few months is going to get you some wins if you’re anybody but the Mets.
  • Since August 1, here’s how some dudes are hitting:
    • Tim Anderson: .280/.306/.505;
    • Adam Engel: .296/.306/.507; and
    • Omar Narvaez: .300/.462/.480.

Not peak Frank Thomas or anything, but a stretch where you see this kind of production from your glove-first CF, your catcher, and your shortstop, it’s not surprising you’re going to put together some runs.  For Anderson, this stretch starts pulling his season line closer to his promising rookie season, and Narvaez seems to improve in every area offensively every season with one of the more unusual development paths around. Engel is perhaps the most interesting of this group, however.  I’ve been loud and on the record of saying, “This dude can’t hit.”  And, with the caveat that he had one random hot month in the Arizona Fall League a few years ago, and really anybody can do anything for a few weeks, his OPS for the season is now at .632.  A defender who can run like he can with an OPS in the .650-.700 range is a whole lot more interesting than the same guy hitting in the .550-.575 range where he had been living for most of the year, so it bears monitoring.

  • As Collin wrote Monday, Lucas Giolito has been on a run of success, and obviously Michael Kopech’s first eight major league innings have largely been productive. Pair that with a hot streak in the bullpen — newcomer Ryan Burr has retired four without allowing a run to start his career, Juan Minaya has been randomly dominant in the month of August, and Jace Fry’s ERA has resumed drifting down toward his peripherals — and even without Jose Abreu you should come out on top at better than a 100-loss rate.

Indeed, perhaps this hot streak will kick off the same old infuriating debate about whether these wins are bad because they’re hurting the team’s draft position. As always, my position is that if they pick sixth instead of third because a bunch of their young players are playing really well, that’s more important for the rebuild than anything else.

Photo credit: Andy Marlin- USA Today Sports

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