The Chicago White Sox are poised to be one of the most improved teams in MLB. For the past several years, the White Sox have been cultivating one of the most impressive farm systems. Based on last season, that young talent is getting ready to come to the forefront and make the White Sox a contender.
With Chicago not making the postseason in 11 years and not winning a playoff series since the 2005 World Series, the Windy City’s South Side is eager for a winner. Given the young talent and aggressive moves made over the winter, the White Sox look ready to snap a streak of seven consecutive losing seasons.
Under normal circumstances, the club might be viewed as being one year away. But in a 60-game season, the White Sox have legitimate hopes of being in the playoff hunt come September.
Of course, what does a sportsbook say about Chicago’s regular-season win totals and World Series odds? Are the oddsmakers buying into the hype because of the young talent on Chicago’s roster? Let’s take a closer look at the 2020 Chicago White Sox.
Not many teams would consider a 72-win season a success, but the White Sox were generally satisfied with reaching that mark last season. After all, it was a 10-win improvement from Chicago’s 62-100 campaign in 2018 and a clear sign that the franchise is starting to move in the right direction.
The White Sox got off to a decent start, holding their own through the first few months of the season. A five-game winning streak to close out May brought Chicago within a game of .500, a mark the White Sox eventually reached in mid-June. Unfortunately for the White Sox, they started to slump during the second part of June and had a disastrous 7-16 record in July.
However, the upstart White Sox showed a little resiliency during the second half of the season, going 14-16 in August and 12-14 in September. In the end, the White Sox finished the season 72-89, good for third place in the AL Central.
They finished 28.5 games behind the first-place Twins and were 23.5 games out of a Wild-Card spot. On the bright side, they had a better record than six other American League teams, putting them a little ahead of schedule..Key Additions
The White Sox made a series of aggressive moves to improve their roster. The first was to sign free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Despite having a solid backstop in James McCann, the White Sox signed Grandal, who was undoubtedly the best catcher on the market and one of the best overall hitters. The switch-hitter figures to be an important part of Chicago’s lineup.
The White Sox also struck a deal with designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. Despite signing first baseman Jose Abreu to an extension earlier in the winter, Chicago brought in Encarnacion to serve as the team’s primary DH and give the team another option at first base behind Abreu.
While he’s no spring chicken, the 37-year-old Encarnacion hit 34 home runs and posted an OPS of .875 in 2019, so he’s still an impact player.
Chicago made an under-the-radar trade this offseason by acquiring outfielder Nomar Mazara from the Rangers. Mazara burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2016, although he’s yet to become the star Texas envisioned him becoming.
Nevertheless, he’s hit 79 home runs over four seasons while posting an OPS of .754, making him a solid contributor who is in line to be Chicago’s primary right fielder. He’s also just 25, so there is time for him to take another step forward.
On the pitching front, the White Sox made two huge additions by signing lefties Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez. Keuchel is undoubtedly the bigger addition.
While he doesn’t have the same Cy Young-caliber form he did earlier in his career, Keuchel is still a frontline starter. In 19 starts for the Braves last year, he posted a 3.75 ERA.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez is still a reliable back-end starter, possibly more. The 2018 season is the only year since 2010 that Gonzalez has posted an ERA over 3.80. He and Keuchel will provide stability and leadership to an otherwise young Chicago rotation.
Finally, the White Sox added to their bullpen by signing Steve Cishek, who remains in Chicago after pitching for the Cubs the last two seasons. Cishek owns a 2.69 career ERA, which is comparable to his performance with the Cubs over the last two years. He will immediately become one of Chicago’s most important relievers.
The White Sox didn’t part with too many key players. However, one of the exceptions is second baseman Yolmer Sanchez. Despite winning a Gold Glove, the White Sox released Sanchez after he posted disappointing offensive numbers in 2019.
Since the end of last season, the White Sox have also parted ways with catcher Welington Castillo, outfielder Charlie Tilson, and infielder Ryan Goins, among other players on the periphery of the roster.
Among pitchers, the White Sox have lost Ivan Nova, who led the team with 34 starts last year. Nova was a solid part of the rotation but was no longer needed with the team’s crop of young pitchers, as well as the additions of Keuchel and Gonzalez.
Josh Osich, who made 57 relief appearances for the White Sox last season, was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox. Other than that, Chicago’s pitching staff is mostly intact from last year.
As mentioned, the additions of Keuchel and Gonzalez will transform the Chicago rotation. The White Sox now have two proven starters to pair with one of the most exciting collections of young pitchers.
While most of Chicago’s young arms have yet to establish themselves, Keuchel and Gonzalez will ease some of the pressure on those pitchers.
Of course, at least one of Chicago’s young starters has had his breakthrough. In 29 starts last season, Lucas Giolito went 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA.
Giolito was once the top pitching prospect in baseball, and his stuff is off the charts. If he can pick up where he left off in 2019, he’ll become the team’s bona fide ace.
Meanwhile, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease will get a chance to solidify the final two spots in Chicago’s rotation. Lopez had his moments last season, although he finished with a 10-15 record and a 5.38 ERA.
Cease also had ups and downs, going 4-7 with a 5.79 ERA. Both have the stuff to be much better, and if at least one of them can show more consistency, the White Sox could end up with one of the better rotations in the American League.
The White Sox also have the potential to put together a solid bullpen in 2020. Alex Colome was one of the most underrated closers in baseball last season, saving 30 games in 33 chances while posting a 2.80 ERA.
In Cishek, the White Sox have a proven setup man to serve as the bridge to Colome. Lefty Aaron Bummer should also help in that role after pitching to a 2.13 ERA in 58 appearances. He threw more than one inning on several occasions, showing that he’s more than just a lefty specialist.
If there’s an X-factor in Chicago’s bullpen, it might be veteran Kelvin Herrera. He posted a 6.14 ERA last year in a nightmarish season.
However, Herrera is just 30 and isn’t far removed from being a key part of the Kansas City bullpen. If Herrera can bounce back quickly, the White Sox will have a bullpen that can dominate the late innings.
The Chicago White Sox might have the perfect mix of rising stars and veteran sluggers. Jose Abreu has carried the lineup for several years.
He’ll finally have some help with Encarnacion and Grandal. That trio alone gives the White Sox veterans capable of doing some damage.
At the same time, the White Sox are loaded with talented young players who are starting to establish themselves as potential stars. Shortstop Tim Anderson hit .335 with an OPS of .865 last season.
Outfielder Eloy Jimenez blasted 31 home runs and posted an OPS of .828 in 2019, and he’s only scratching the surface of his potential Finally, third baseman Yoan Moncada may have been the team’s best hitter last season, hitting .315 with 25 home runs and an OPS of .915.
Chicago’s contingent of young talent doesn’t end there. Cuban outfielder Luis Robert is one of the most-hyped young players in baseball. He hit .297 with an OPS of .974 in just over 200 Triple-A at-bats last season.
The White Sox are going to give him a shot to be their primary center fielder this season. If he comes anywhere close to lthe hype, he’ll make Chicago’s lineup more treacherous for opposing pitchers.
Chicago White Sox’ Three Key Players
Among Chicago’s young players, Anderson might be the most important. He took a massive step forward in 2019 after rather underwhelming numbers in 2017 and 2018.
There is a lot of pressure on him after setting the bar so high. Plus, he’ll be hitting toward the top of the order, making him an important table-setter for the team’s power hitters.
Grandal will also be a key to his new team’s success. He’s coming off a career year and will have a lot of pressure to perform after getting a big contract.
Grandal is also a switch-hitter in a right-hand-heavy lineup. The White Sox will need him to produce consistently from the left side of the plate for their lineup to fulfill the promise it has on paper.
Finally, Giolito will be of great importance to the Chicago pitching staff. The additions of Keuchel and Gonzalez are huge. But the White Sox still need Giolito to be their ace.
Like most of Chicago’s roster, he needs to prove that last year wasn’t a flash in the pan and that he’s capable of being consistent from one year to the next.
Chicago White Sox Schedule Breakdown
Forty of Chicago’s 60 games will come against the other teams in the AL Central. With the White Sox ahead of the Royals and Tigers in the rebuilding process, that’s a schedule that could work to their benefit.
However, they were 17-21 against the Indians and Twins last season. If the White Sox are going to compete for a playoff spot, they’ll have to do better against those teams.
Chicago’s 20 remaining games will come against members of the NL Central. Naturally, six of those 20 games will come against the rival Cubs. On paper, the Cubs are still better than the White Sox, so it won’t be easy to earn at least a split of those six games.
Outside of the Pirates, the other teams in the NL Central are all quality teams that have postseason aspirations, giving the White Sox a difficult interleague schedule.
BetUs.com also lists Chicago’s over/under at 31.5 wins. That projects as a slightly above-average team, which should be in the playoff race in September. If you are new to sports betting, please check out our MLB betting hub page to get started.
As you can see, the White Sox have a high upside. Both their rotation and lineup have the potential to be among the top 10 in baseball.
Over 162 games, a young team like this would likely fade in the second half of the season. But if the White Sox can start fast, they have a legitimate chance to challenge for the AL Central crown. However, the White Sox might be a better bet for the 2021 World Series than for the 2020 World Series.