Freddy Garcia has been the most consistent Chicago White Sox starters in 2010 with a 9-3 record and has only lost once since April 15th. He has won nine of his last 10 decisions and has been a big part of the White Sox turning their season around, helping them to move into second place in AL Central as of last night.
The Chicago White Sox were 24-33 a month ago today on June 8th. On that date, they were nine games under .500, nine and a half games behind the first place Twins in the AL Central, and six games behind the Tigers.
Since that date a month ago, however, the now-second-place Twins have played 11-15 baseball, compared with the White Sox who have played at an amazing 21-5 clip. One of the reasons?
Freddy Garcia (9-3) has pitched well consistently after losing his first two starts of the season. Garcia had to battle Dan Hudson for the fifth spot in the starting rotation in spring training but manager Ozzie Guillen made the right choice by using Garcia as the fifth starter.
Garcia has had 12 quality starts among his 16 starts this season and has not walked more than two batters in any of his last 14 starts.
Speaking of Batters…
The White Sox were hitting .225, which was the worst batting average in the majors early in the season, but since then have raised their average to .254, which is 23rd in the majors.
So they went from April 25th to May 22nd without winning more than one game in a row. Then, the White Sox reached their low point of the season on June 8th with their 24-33 record.
But the turning point of the season was when they defeated the Detroit Tigers in the last two games of a three game series, and then defeated the Chicago Cubs in the first two games of that series for a four-game winning streak.
They lost to the Cubs the next day, but then put together an 11 game winning streak, sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves before losing the third game of a series against the Cubs.
A win today will mean a four-game sweep over the Angels.
When they return from the All-Star break, the White Sox will hit the road for a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins, and then they'll play the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics in their next 13 games.
So What is There to Watch For?
From August 3rd to August 19th, the White Sox play the Twins and Tigers 13 times in a 17 game stretch. By the end of play on August 19th, we should have a good indication of how good this White Sox team can be this season.
With Jake Peavy on the 15-day DL and possibly out for the season, it is imperative that the White Sox get some wins out of his spot from either a minor league pitcher or trade for a top notch starter. There is a rumor that Cliff Lee could wind up with the White Sox but with so many teams vying for Lee’s services, including the Twins, the chances of the White Sox actually winding up with him are slim.
Where to Improve
Some of the White Sox hitters who struggled earlier in the season are now starting to hit. Carlos Quentin and Alexei Ramirez are two who have hit well recently. Juan Pierre still has not hit like he has in the past but he has shown some improvement lately.
Paul Konerko and Alex Rios have hit well from the start of the season but Gordon Beckham has struggled from early in the season and can’t seem to get past the .210 mark. Brent Lillibridge hitting .429 and Dayan Viciedo hitting .281 have hit well coming off the bench.
One concern is that three everyday players have an on base percentage under .300. Viciedo has a .281 OBP, A.J. Pierzynski has a .278 mark and Beckham has posted a .272 OBP.
The key to the second half is finding a dependable starter for Peavy’s slot in the starting rotation. Beckham needs to at least get his average back to .250 and start hitting with power so he can move up from the ninth spot in the batting order.
A month ago it looked like the White Sox were not going to be a factor in the AL Central. Now it looks like they will be a contender in the division all season.
It remains to be seen if general manager Kenny Williams will make any moves to improve the team before the trading deadline. There have been rumors that the White Sox might trade for Adam Dunn of the Nationals. The question is, how many prospects are the White Sox willing to give up for Dunn who may turn out to be a three month rental player?
Dunn, who hit three home runs last night, would be a huge upgrade at designated hitter over Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay. Dunn leads the NL in extra base hits with 47 and is only one behind the major league leader Miguel Cabrera.
It is a good sign the White Sox have played this well for an entire month.
And it shows they are capable of being in the AL playoffs in October.