CHICAGO - The White Sox finally got back to October — and they liked it. They are hoping for a longer stay as soon as next year.
Chicago’s breakout season was stopped by a three-game loss at Oakland in the AL wild-card round. But it looks as if the White Sox have a bright future after stopping a string of seven consecutive losing records with their first playoff appearance since 2008.
“It’s just the start of something. I think it was good for us to get in,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “Guys got a taste of it, and I think it’s just going to make them more hungry to get back there.”
The 27-year-old Anderson leads a young core playing under team-friendly deals, and José Abreu is one of the front-runners for AL MVP after driving in 60 runs during the pandemic-shortened season. Lucas Giolito, who pitched his first no-hitter in August, fronts the rotation, and the bullpen has promising options.
Manager Rick Renteria said he started thinking about next year right after Thursday’s season-ending loss.
“This will play a huge part in their development, obviously, and the organization is moving in the right direction,” Renteria said. “There’s no way of not saying that that’s happening. The Chicago White Sox are moving in the right direction.”
The White Sox have never made consecutive postseason appearances. Here are a couple areas to watch as they try for franchise history:
The White Sox could look to free agency to add another starting pitcher. While Giolito and Dallas Keuchel form a solid tandem at the top, the rest of the rotation is a concern for a team with championship aspirations.
Dane Dunning has just eight big league starts after making his debut in August. Dylan Cease struggled with his command this year, issuing 34 walks in 58 1/3 innings. Michael Kopech, one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, opted out of this season because he was dealing with a personal issue. Garrett Crochet, the No. 11 overall pick in the June draft, has yet to make his first professional start.
The playoff loss to Oakland ended a roller-coaster year for Luis Robert, who agreed to a $50 million, six-year contract in January. The speedy center fielder then got off to a great start in his first big league season before tailing off, batting .132 with 32 strikeouts in September. He hit a massive solo homer in the Game 3 loss to the A’s. When Robert is on, he takes the loaded White Sox lineup to another level.
“Every experience we had every day is something that’s going to make you better as a person, as a player, and that is how I see it,” Robert said through a translator. “You know next year, hopefully we have the chance to play with fans and that’s going to be different, too. At least we know what we can expect.”
FEEL THE GLOVE
Eloy Jiménez had another solid season at the plate — and more adventures in left field. Jiménez, who turns 24 in November, hit .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs. The slugger wants to stay in left and the White Sox want to stay flexible at designated hitter, but Jiménez’s defense is worth watching heading into his third season.
Chicago faces an intriguing question at closer with Alex Colomé eligible for free agency. The 31-year-old right-hander has a 2.27 ERA and 42 saves in 83 games since coming over in a 2018 trade with Seattle for Omar Narváez. He pitched two scoreless innings in the playoffs.
If Colomé signs with another team, the White Sox could try one of their young arms at closer, a list of possibilities that includes Aaron Bummer, Codi Heuer and Matt Foster.