Chicago White Sox Hot Streak: Sign for Optimism or NL-Related Mirage?
After a slow and often frustrating start, the Sox have won 11 of their last 13 to climb back to the .500 mark. The previously struggling pitching staff has caught fire, allowing more than three runs only four times during that stretch.
The optimist would say that the pitching is finally performing to expectations and that the Sox are on their way to contention in the AL Central. Every player in their rotation has turned in some solid starts and with the emergence of Sergio Santos the bullpen looks solid.
Also, while the offense isn't great, they're starting to be a bit more productive. They're actually "up" 10th in runs scored. Paul Konerko and Alex Rios are both having fantastic seasons and Pierre and Vizquel have been productive of late at the top of the order.
However, their competition during this stretch could be a major reason for their success.
While Detroit is decent, the Cubs, Pirates, and Nationals have a combined record of 88-121 (.420 WPT). None of those teams have a particularly impressive offense either, with the Tigers being the only one that has scored as many as 300 runs. Their run against the National League has been especially strong, as their only loss was to the Cubs in a game where Gavin Floyd only allowed one run.
Their offense still isn't particularly good, averaging 4.26 runs on the season and 4.67 runs in June. There are still A LOT of struggling hitters on the Sox. They only have three regulars hitting over .260 and only three with an OPS over .750.
This doesn't leave much margin for error for the pitching staff. Even with a number of good performances in June, they're allowing four runs a game. Their run differential this month is only +12, which suggests they've been pretty lucky in close games.
Their upcoming series against Atlanta should give us a slightly better idea of whether they are for real or not. The Braves are first in the east at 42-28 and should give them a tough challenge.
Will this run still be going after three more series?
Who knows. I'd lean towards "no" based on the assumption that they can't keep their opponents under four runs forever.
That said, I hope I'm wrong.
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