Toronto at Chicago, June 20-22

Monday, June 20 2022 @ 03:00 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

Jesus just left Chicago
And he's bound for New Orleans
Workin' from one end to the other
and all points in between

So you won more than 90 games a year ago. And despite your ace left-hander heading off to the west coast in free agency, you still thought you were in a fine position to compete for the division title.

But what happens if one of your pitchers goes right off the cliff? And soon has to be thrown over the side? Metaphors are literally (figuratively?) colliding as we attempt to describe the disaster. But we're not done. What if another of your starting pitchers suffers a spring training injury that keeps him off the mound for the first two months? Then whatcha gonna do?

You just might find yourself in third place, with a 32-34 record.

Hey, it's a hard game.

What's happened to the White Sox this season seems so simple, so obvious, that even a child could figure it out. Taking no chances, I found a nearby child and asked him to explain. "It's the pitching, dummy! Now go away!" the youngster snapped.

Just last season, no team in the AL gave up fewer runs than the White Sox. This season, only the traditionally hapless Royals get scored on more often. Last year's White Sox featured four starters who were all having outstanding seasons, plus a former Cy Young winner who wasn't exactly chopped liver. (Sounds like the 2022 Yankees, so far.) But ace southpaw Carlos Rodon (13-5, 2.37) signed with San Francisco as a free agent, veteran ace Lance Lynn (11-6, 2.69) injured his knee and needed surgery at the beginning of April, and 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel posted a 7.88 ERA in eight starts and was Designated For Assignment.

The Sox have not been able to fill all of those holes. The replacement for Rodon has actually gone more or less as planned - Michael Kopech, from last season's bullpen, has stepped into the rotation and pitched very well. And Dylan Cease has picked up right where he left off last season. But Lucas Giolito has been scuffling and Vince Velasquez went 2-3, 5.79 in seven starts before being banished to long relief about a month ago.

Furthermore Kopech's promotion and Garrett Crochet's Tommy John surgery have taken a big chunk out of the team's bullpen depth, which this week is also missing closer Liam Hendriks and LOOGY Aaron Bummer. Still standing amid the carnage are Kendall Graveman and Reynaldo Lopez - and not much else at all.

But things may be looking up. The White Sox picked up 36 year old Johnny Cueto off the scrap heap, and the old rascal has looked quite like the Cueto of old. Lynn finally made his season debut last week. Shortstop Tim Anderson, the beating heart and soul of this team, has finished his rehab assignment and should be back in the lineup tonight.

The Sox will be missing at least one, and possibly two regulars, when the Blue Jays visit. Whether that actually hurts the ball club is another matter entirely, because catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Yoan Moncada have both been utterly dreadful this season. Grandal is definitely out of the lineup, so old chum Reese McGuire and veteran minor leaguer Seby Zavala will be doing the catching. Rookie Jake Burger has been gradually taking the third base job away from Moncada, who is questionable these days with a tender hamstring.

The offense is led by Anderson, 2020 MVP Jose Abreu, and sophomore Andrew Vaughn, who seems to have taken a large step towards fulfilling the promise that made him the third overall pick in the 2019 draft. Vaughn starts games at both outfield corners, DH, and first base on occasion. LaRussa doesn't have anything resembling a regular DH, rotating various regulars through the spot.

One of the odd facts about the 2022 White Sox is they've played much better ball on the road. Sure, they got swept when they came up to Toronto three weeks ago - they've still gone 18-16 on the road, whilst posting a downright puzzling 13-17 in their own digs. On second thought, it's not that puzzling at all. Their pitchers have been getting absolutely pummelled at (looks it up) Guaranteed Rate Field (what kind of name is that for a ball park?), where they've been allowing a grisly 5.77 runs per game. (On the road, they allow a much more reasonable 3.91 per game.)

SO who's pitching? These guys.

Mon 20 June - Berrios (5-2, 4.65) vs Lynn (0-0, 6.23)
Tue 21 June - Gausman (5-6, 3.21) vs Cease (5-3, 2.91)
Wed 22 June - Stripling (3-2, 3.28) vs Giolito (4-3, 4.78)