After taking the opening contest of a four-game set with Cleveland Indians, the Chicago White Sox now sit at 5-5; tied with the Indians for second place in the division. The up-and-down season continues tonight as the White Sox look to win consecutive games for the first time since winning the first two games of the season.
It has been a week since my last update and a lot has happened on and off the field since then.
Let’s start with the bad…
The White Sox and outfielder Avisail Garcia got terrible news yesterday when a MRI revealed a torn labrum in Garcia’s left shoulder. Due to the extent of the injury that involves part of the labrum being torn off the bone, surgery is required to repair it fully. Garcia will likely undergo surgery early next week and will be out for the remainder of the season. General manager Rick Hahn indicated that the White Sox expect Garcia to be ready to go for spring training in 2015. This news is very disheartening for all parties involved, but it is not the end of the world. Garcia will be just 24 years old next season and is still a huge part of the future with the White Sox having control of him for five seasons. Assuming Garcia fully recovers from the injury, the worst part of this situation is him missing a full season of at-bats in the major leagues. The 2014 season was supposed to be big developmental year for many White Sox players and Garcia was no exception. Now because of the season-ending injury, Garcia won’t be able to progress with the rest of the building blocks this summer, and he will be season behind his projected development.
Despite the devastating news, the White Sox must move on this season. Although the Garcia injury is a major blow to his development, it should not affect the White Sox too much in 2014 in terms of wins and losses. With or without Garcia, I don’t view the White Sox as a playoff team, much less even a .500 team. To replace Garcia, the White Sox called up Jordan Danks and he figures to see some more playing time along with Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo. Between the three outfielders, I expect the White Sox offense to withstand the loss of Avisail Garcia in 2014.
Besides the injury, the White Sox have experienced some problems within their pitching staff. After two turns through the starting rotation, the left-handers have looked good, but the righties have struggled to get going. Rookie Erik Johnson and veteran Felipe Paulino have combined to allow 18 earned runs in 20 innings (It is worth noting that two of those starts came at Coors Field). I wouldn’t worry about either Johnson or Paulino just yet, but both pitchers need to start performing better.
Outside of the struggles in the rotation, the bullpen has had a tough time as well. Youngsters Daniel Webb, Maikel Cleto, and Donnie Veal have pitched well, but veterans Ronald Belisario, Scott Downs, and Matt Lindstrom haven’t been impressive. Lindstrom did enjoy a nice 1-2-3 inning last night, so hopefully that is a sign of things to come. If Lindstrom doesn’t get his act together quickly, then Webb, Cleto, or Nate Jones (when healthy) will take over his duties as closer. The other two, Belisario and Downs, have been brutal (10 earned runs in 5.2 innings), but their track record suggests that they should at least be major-league average pitchers moving forward.
Now the good…
As bad as the White Sox pitching has been at times this season, the offense is on quite a roll. After ten games, the White Sox lead the American League in batting average, home runs, runs scored, on-base percentage, and on-base plus slugging percentage. I’m doubtful that the White Sox will lead all those categories even a month from now, but it is certainly a vastly improved offense over last season. Leading the offensive surge have been Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Alexei Ramirez, and Tyler Flowers. Abreu’s start to the season couldn’t be going any better as the slugger is hitting .310 with 4 home runs and 14 RBI. This pace certainly won’t last and Abreu will likely face some slumps as pitchers begin to adjust to his swing. The key to Abreu’s success will be how quickly he is able to make his own adjustments at the plate. Eaton continues to be the igniter at the top of the order, and surprisingly has seven RBI to go along with his terrific on-base skills. Ramirez is off to the hottest start of his career with two home runs and nine RBI to go along with a .421 average, and he could be in for a career-year. If that still proves to be the case in July, then the White Sox will have an extremely valuable trade chip in Ramirez. Just as we were all ready to dismiss Tyler Flowers as an option at catcher going forward, he starts the season on an absolute tear with a .444 average, one homer, and five RBI. Despite the hot start, Flowers will have to continue to show that he has changed his approach and show some sustained success.
Gordon Beckham had a slight setback in his rehab assignment and has been shut-down until he no longer feels pain in his oblique. The timetable is unclear at the moment, but I wouldn’t expect Beckham to be back with the White Sox until the end of the month at the earliest.
Nate Jones’ injury status has changed slightly as doctors determined that his injury is actually related to his lower back and not his hip or glute. Jones received an epidural the other day, and the White Sox are now hoping to have him back a little sooner than originally thought.