No reason to panic over start of White Sox season
This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin's White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
My phone started blowing up minutes after the final pitch of Sunday’s series finale at Target Field, with Byron Buxton’s walk-off home run against closer Liam Hendriks completing a dismal 0-6 road trip for the White Sox. It continued as we all walked into the clubhouse.
Surprisingly, only one of these texts and Twitter direct messages celebrated Hunter Dickinson returning for his junior season to the University of Michigan basketball program. The cleaned-up word of the moment was frustration over the White Sox, who at 6-9 moving into Tuesday, didn’t resemble one of the preseason favorites to win a World Series title.
Some even were questioning success for the entire 2022 season. I fully understand the frustration. There’s a famous Merkin family story from one of the Bulls’ six NBA championships where I stormed out of Sluggers in Chicago after an especially tough playoff loss and told my brothers, Jeff and Randy, and our good friend, Adam, how I refused to watch the Bulls the rest of the way because “this team has no heart.”
I did watch, of course. And they won it all. So, I’m here to provide a little perspective, which is not exactly the forte of someone who is a longtime pessimist. The White Sox are a playoff team, and while there are some very early signs for concern, there’s no reason to panic.
Four American League teams were more than two games above .500 entering Monday: The Yankees, Mariners and Blue Jays and Angels. None of them reside in the AL Central, where the Twins sit in first at 8-8 following this weekend’s sweep at Target Field.
The White Sox scored four runs Sunday, marking the first time since April 13 against reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray where they reached that total. But this team, from top to bottom, is too talented not to hit.
Center fielder Luis Robert should be back Tuesday after dealing with a right groin strain. Right-handed starter Lance Lynn, reliever Joe Kelly and third baseman Yoán Moncada will be back in the next month, as well. The White Sox just need to stay in contention until that healthier point hits.
So, express your displeasure in full but respectful voice -- it’s every fan’s inalienable right. But remember the big picture of a 162-game season, much as the White Sox are doing in the throes of a seven-game losing streak.
“We’ve had stretches like this before,” White Sox starter Lucas Giolito said. “We just learn what we can from the last week, clean up the areas that need to be cleaned up and get back on it.”
"We can't really do anything about it. It already happened,” shortstop Tim Anderson added. “All we can do is to just keep moving forward and really try not to dwell. It [isn’t] really too much to say. Everything happened right in front of us. The game is going to keep coming and we've got to keep playing. We'll grind our way out of it.”