As the White Sox begin the home stretch of the season in first place, they have gotten to where they are with contributions from the entire team. As with any team some players are a bigger key than others.
Sale has been talked about as a potential Cy Young award candidate. Others have wondered if Sale’s career high in innings will affect him down the stretch.
Sale went 10-2 with a 2.19 ERA before the All-Star break. He was one of four White Sox to earn a trip to Kansas City. Since the break he is just 5-4 with a 4.18 ERA. A look inside his number reveal a second half collapse. He has been a much more dominant pitcher at home and during the day.
Sale is 8-2 with a 1.74 ERA at US Cellular Field and just 7-4 with a 4.01 away from home. During the day, Sale is 7-2 with a 2.40 ERA, while at night he is 8-4 with a 3.34 ERA.
Sale is 15-6 with a 2.93 ERA. He has 162 strikeouts in 163 innings with a 1.08 WHIP and opponents hit just .223 against him. The White Sox currently stand at 73-62. In games Sale does not get a decision, they are just two games over .500.
For the White Sox to make the postseason, they are going to need him to pitch like a legitimate Cy Young contender. They have pushed him back a few times throughout the season in an attempt to limit his innings. This is the time for him to be able pitch as many innings as needed.
Once he earned the closer role in May, Reed has kept the position. He has had a solid rookie season and has set the White Sox record for saves by a rookie. He saved six games each in May and June and eight each in July and August.
Reed has a solid 86.2 save percentage, with 25 saves in 29 chances. Unlike Sale, Reed has been more effective on the road than at home. Reed has a 5.40 ERA at the Cell, and a 2.82 ERA on the road. Strangely enough he has converted 12 saves in 13 chances at home, but just 13 of 16 on the road.
Although Reed’s ERA could be lower for a closer, the White Sox have to be happy with his consistency throughout the season. His continued success in the closer role is vital to the White Sox chances to get to the postseason and stay there.
Bobby Jenks was the White Sox last rookie closer in 2005.
After sizzling for three of the first four months of the season, Konerko took a dip in August. Konerko is going to have return to his All-Star form for the White Sox. Other than August he has had a disappointing second half to the season.
Paulie hit .329 with 14 Home Runs and 42 RBIs pre All-Star Break. In the second half he is hitting just .271 with seven home runs and 21 RBI’s. The White Sox need their captain.
Konerko’s fall has impacted Alex Rios behind him. Rios was hitting .318 before the break and just .257 after. With Konerko not hitting as well, teams go can after him more aggressively and therefore they are able to do the same with Rios. With Adam Dunn basically all or nothing, they need Konerko to produce in the middle of the lineup. If he does that, both Dunn and Rios would benefit.
Dwayne Wise did a great job for DeAza when he was on the disabled list for the last half of August. DeAza’s importance to the White Sox cannot be understated. Although Juan Pierre was a good player for the White Sox the last few seasons, DeAza has given them a more well rounded player and some stability in centerfield and at the top of the order.
On the season DeAza is hitting .280 with seven Home Runs, 45 RBI’s and 23 stolen bases. He has also been very good defensively in Centerfield. The White Sox need him to stay healthy. Having Wise in a backup role will prove more valuable to the White Sox down the stretch. His ability to make the pitchers aware of him when he is one base will help the White Sox offense.
If the Most Valuable Player vote is taken into literal account, than Pierzynski has to be considered this season. He and Sale are unquestionably the White Sox MVPs. Pierzynski is having a career year and handling a mostly young pitching staff in the process. He has already set a career high in home runs by six and needs just four more RBI’s to set a career high.
A.J. has also helped the White Sox earn a 4.02 team ERA despite the fact that over half the pitching staff used throughout the year have been rookies. For the pitching to continue to be strong, they A.J. to produce both behind and at the plate.
The strength of the White Sox this season has been contributions from many places. For them to continue to contend and push for a postseason berth, these five players will be the keys down the stretch.