The Chicago White Sox are three games behind the Minnesota Twins. After going 17-8 in July, the White Sox are 8-9 in August thus far, dropping their last three series. One to the worst team in baseball, Baltimore Oriels, one to the now AL Central front running Minnesota Twins and one to the once relevant Detroit Tigers. Losing two in late innings collapses fueled by terrible pitching from J.J. Putz. The once red hot White Sox are now a shade of cold blue.
Many of the questions arise from the inconsistency in the White Sox bullpen, especially when it comes to the closing spot. The once great Bobby Jenks has struggled lately, has an ERA in the mid 5 range, and is now suffering from back spasms. J.J. Putz's scoreless streak is over and so is his ability to consistently get outs. With the White Sox having a "closer by committee" mentality it will be hard for them to win close games.
In my opinion, the White Sox need to get back to the slugging approach like teams of old. They need to put runs on that board. And like any Chicago election the Sox must put runs up "early and often". With Mark Teahan back in the order the White Sox have another powerful lefty that can put any ball over the fence with one swing of the bat. Carlos Quentin needs to continue swinging for the fences, but hopefully he starts making contact. Additionally, I am in full support of starting Ramon Castro over A.J. Pierzynski, especially if he is going to continue to ground out on first pitch fastballs to the right side.
The singles machine, Juan Pierre can continue to do his thing, while the ageless Omar Vizquel will continue to be more solid than a chevy over at third base. If the White Sox can start putting more runs on the board, I think they can grind it out until the last weeks of the season. Unfortunately, if they fail to do so, I am not confident in them being able to hold onto late inning leads in a close game. This upcoming series at Target Field is huge. Last weeks encounter was a minor setback, but this series cannot fair the same way. The Chicago Pale Hosers have their three top pitchers going this series in John Danks (12-8, 3.19), Gavin Floyd (8-9, 3.70) and Mark Buehrle (11-9, 4.05). As the great Sox announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson says, "lets not stop now boys"!