Chicago White Sox: Off To Their Best Start Since 1981

The Chicago White Sox are one of Major League Baseball’s early surprises. They are 7-2 after sweeping the lowly Minnesota Twins, winning two of three against Cleveland, three of four in Oakland, and currently sit atop the American League Central, half a game ahead of the powerful Detroit Tigers.

Today, the Sox won behind the pitching of Mat Latos, who pitched six innings of three-hit baseball, while giving up just one run with four strikeouts.

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Signed by Chicago as a free agent in February, Latos could be a contender for comeback player of the year award. For three teams in 2015, Latos was 4-10 with a 4.95 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP, 3.72 FIP and 9.3 hits per nine innings. Prior to that, Latos was a solid 60-45 with a 3.34 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 7.8 hits per nine innings from 2009-2014.

In two games thus far with Chicago, Latos, 28, is looking like his old self; he has surrendered one run in 12 innings, and is 2-0 with his new team.

Why The White Sox Are Winning

Latos is not the only reason why the White Sox are off to a fast start. Their hitters are also doing well, especially center fielder Adam Eaton, who is currently batting.393 (11-for-28) with a.452 OBP and.952 OPS. Left fielder Melky Cabrera is batting.300. White Sox sluggers, first baseman Jose Abreu and third baseman Todd Frazier, have two home runs each.

But, what is especially carrying the White Sox is their pitching:

  • lefty ace Chris Sale is 2-0, with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings;
  • sophomore lefthander Carlos Rodon has a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings, with 12 strikeouts;
  • Latos is 2-0, with a 0.50 ERA.

The back end of the White Sox bullpen has also done well. Set-up man Matt Albers and closer David Robertson have not been scored upon in nine innings, and Robertson is perfect in four save opportunities.

Jimmy Rollins of the Chicago White Sox Jimmy Rollins provides solid defense for the Chicago White Sox. [Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]Chicago’s defense has also been solid, yielding just four errors in nine games. While new shortstop, veteran Jimmy Rollins, has not yet found his way at the plate, he has yet to make an error. The White Sox picked up Rollins, 37, to replace the departed Alexei Ramirez, and he figures to bring leadership to a team with lots of young players. Meanwhile, Rollins is only 72 hits away from 2,500 for his career, and 35 stolen bases away from 500. If he reaches these goals, he will increase his chances for the Hall of Fame, and he will be given that opportunity with the White Sox.

Frazier has also played solid defense for Chicago, including this game-ending play against Minnesota.

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“It’s fun to watch,” Frazier, acquired this off-season from Cincinnati, told Yahoo Sports. “There’s no way you can get down in the dumps when you’re playing for a team like this, because you know your time’s going to come eventually.”

The White Sox Road Ahead

Last year, the White Sox finished a mediocre 76-86. They will likely continue this trend into next week, as their next seven games are against the 3-5 Tampa Bay Rays, and the underperforming Los Angeles Angels.

Sale, regarded by many as one of the top left-handed starters in baseball, will go for his third win for Chicago against Tampa Bay tomorrow night.

After that, however, the path for Chicago and manager Robin Ventura gets steeper, as they round out April playing against the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Baltimore Orioles. All are predicted to do well this year, and the Orioles, at 7-1, currently have baseball’s best record alongside the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.

Their May schedule includes games against the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, the young and powerful Houston Astros, and the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals.

What do you think? Can the Chicago White Sox continue their winning ways?

[Photo by Hannah Folsien/Getty Images]