The Chicago White Sox are heading to the postseason. Tony La Russa's club clinched the AL Central title Thursday thanks to their 7-2 win over Cleveland. It is Chicago's first AL Central title since 2008, and this is the first time in franchise history the ChiSox have gone to the postseason in back-to-back years, if you can believe that.
A year ago the White Sox had their coming out party and made the expanded postseason field as the No. 7 seed. Chicago is loaded with high-end young talent (Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, etc.) and they've supplemented that core with quality veterans via trade (Craig Kimbrel, Lance Lynn) and free agency (Yasmani Grandal, Liam Hendriks, Dallas Keuchel).
Over the winter the White Sox made the somewhat controversial decision to hire La Russa, who came out of retirement and had not managed since 2011. More accurately, owner Jerry Reinsdorf make the decision to hire La Russa, as he reportedly went over his front office's head to hire a personal favorite. La Russa previously managed Chicago under Reinsdorf from 1979-86.
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It has not been completely smooth sailing under La Russa -- Nick Madrigal (hamstring) to long-term injuries earlier this year. The White Sox have had to overcome quite a bit of adversity to win the division., most notably -- plus the team lost Jiménez (pectoral), Robert (hip), and the since-traded
On paper, the White Sox are an imposing matchup in a short postseason series. They're scoring close to five runs per game, making them one of the highest scoring offenses in the game, and they have five good to great starting pitchers (Giolito, Keuchel, Lynn, Dylan Cease, Carlos Rodón) plus a lockdown bullpen (Hendriks, Kimbrel, Garrett Crochet, Michael Kopech, etc.).
That said, Chicago is not without its short-term concerns. Kimbrel has really struggled since coming over at the trade deadline and has been unable to settle in as something other than the full-time closer. Also, Rodón exited his most recent start with arm soreness and La Russa admitted the team is concerned. The club has less than two weeks to sort any issues out before the postseason.
"Anybody who is good enough to get in, is good enough to win three series," La Russa told reporters, including James Fegan of The Athletic.
The Rays have also punched their ticket to October. Those clubs have only clinched a postseason spot, however. The White Sox are the first team to clinch a division title this season., , and