I’m not going to lie to you; the forecast of the Chicago White Sox for the 2014 season is pretty grim. Simply put, not very much is expected of the Chicago White Sox in 2014. In a recent MLB Power Rankings article, espn.com ranked the White Sox as the 27th best team in baseball. Those outside the White Sox organization expect the team to really struggle again this season.
What the White Sox need to do in order to make the playoffs entails a multitude of things. This team has some talent, but as a whole, it is not as well rounded as several other teams in the AL Central, namely the Tigers, Indians and Royals. Therefore, everyone on the team will have to know his role and execute it, if the team wants a chance at the postseason.
When looking at the team, I have identified three areas that the team needs to focus on, in order to be successful this season.
The first area is staying healthy. With Avisail Garcia’s recent injury, this area has not started out like many had hoped. The White Sox have talent, but lack depth. Certain players, such as Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, cannot get injured if the White Sox hope to be competitive this year. These players just bring too much to the table and would be impossible to replace.
White Sox pitching needs to be consistent. We all know how talented Chris Sale is, but the concern comes when trying to find other reliable pitchers. Jose Quintana showed flashes of brilliance last year, and Erik Johnson’s minor league numbers suggest that he has a good amount of potential, but Felipe Paulino has a career 4.97 ERA and John Danks’ 4.20 ERA isn’t too much better.
The bullpen is my real concern. Matt Lindstrom has had a lot of MLB experience and has closed out 46 games in his career, with a successful save percentage of 70%. Scott Downs has also appeared in over 550 career MLB games. However, the other bullpen pitchers (Donnie Veal, Daniel Webb, Maikel Cleto, and Jake Petricka) have all had very little experience in the majors. As a relief pitcher, many stressful situations will occur, and I am worried this bullpen will not be able to deal with adversity and get out of tight jams with minimal runs allowed.
Finally, the White Sox need to be able to produce runs. So far this year, they have done a great job of getting guys on base and driving them in, but this area plagued the team in the previous year. Scoring runs will help take the pressure off this young bullpen and allow this team to win some games that maybe otherwise they wouldn’t have any business winning.
From the outside, the 2014 Chicago White Sox team is viewed as one of the weakest in the majors, but if they can stay healthy, have consistent pitching, and drive in runs, this team will put itself in position to fight for a playoff spot, come September.