Chicago White Sox

5 Reasons Why the Chicago White Sox will Benefit from the Shortened MLB Season

  • 2020 MLB Season
  • Chicago White Sox
  • MLB
  • MLBPA
  • NL Central
  • Rob Manfred
  • Washington Nationals
By Nick Sullivan June 26, 2020 0 Comment

There will be baseball in 2020

Finally! Over the past week, rumors had been swirling about all sorts of potential agreements and scenarios for baseball to return this season. On Monday, the commissioner sent out a schedule and health and safety protocol to the players in response to their trending demand “When and Where?”

The players were given until Tuesday at 5 p.m. to review the proposal and agree to show up to play ball. This is not the two sides coming to a deal, however. This is the commissioner telling the league to show up, and asking the players if they will do their jobs. Commissioner Rob Manfred was given this power back in March. On Tuesday night the players voted in approval of the plan and will show up to play baseball in 2020.

In order to make the season work, there are going to be a few changes to the rulebook for the 2020 season. Keep in mind that since there was no agreement between the MLB and the MLBPA these rules will only be in effect for the 2020 season. Rule changes that have been reported for the 2020 season so far:

  • The MLB season will be a 60 game season.
  • Teams will play 40 games in their division and 20 games against their interleague counterpart.
  • Universal D.H. will be in effect.
  • A runner will be placed on second base at the start of extra innings in order to avoid longer games due to the tight schedule. The runner will be the last out of the previous inning.
  • Teams are to submit 60 player rosters for Spring Training and open up with a 30 player roster.
  • MLB teams will be allowed to make transactions again starting Friday at noon.
  • August 31st trade deadline
  • COVID-19 Inactive list- players will be placed on with symptoms, no mandatory amount of time must be spent on list.

Obviously, there are a lot of new rules coming to the league this season. For a team like the Chicago White Sox this new format could benefit them in many ways. Many fans were already anticipating an exciting season for the South Siders, but their chances just got a whole lot better under these changes. Here are 5 ways that the White Sox will benefit from the rule changes in 2020.

The Chicago White Sox may be active on the trade market with the Universal DH rule in effect.

Considering that the last time teams were making transactions they were unaware of this rule, some N.L. clubs may be scrambling to acquire a power bat to plug in the lineup.  The Sox just so happen to have some power hitters on the 40-man or the high minors that could benefit a team that grows desperate. Here are some candidates who could potentially draw some interest on the market:

  • Zack Collins
  • Gavin Sheets
  • Yermin Mercedes
  • Edwin Encarnacion
  • Matt Skole
  • Nicky Delmonico
  • Daniel Palka

While it is unlikely the Sox would move Encarnacion, and they would need a great offer to move Zack Collins, the Sox could use these assets to their advantage. Now, they most likely would not receive a king’s ransom for any of these guys. Maybe they could get a bullpen arm or an interesting low-level prospect from a team that could use some power in the lineup. Nonetheless, if there are N.L. teams calling around for an interesting power hitter to round out the DH spot in the lineup, the Sox should be there to answer the call.

The 60 game schedule gives fringe teams a chance to surprise

Over the course of the usual 162 game season, the good teams are easily separated from the bad. The great teams also separate themselves from the good teams. Every year there are several fringe teams who finish a few games back of the Wild Card or Division race. Many experts had the Sox projecting to be one of those fringe teams this season. If the Sox are truly hoping for a Wild Card or Division run, their chances of seeing this come to life are greatly increased over the course of 60 games. The young up and coming Sox are primed to get hot and make a run in this format.

If you take a look at last season throughout 60 games the World Champion Washington Nationals would have missed the playoffs, and the last-place Seattle Mariners would have been contenders early on in the season before falling flat. The Phillies would have been looking like legitimate contenders in the N.L. East. The Sox would have finished second in the AL Central. There will be teams that surprise this year because of the shortened schedule. The Sox certainly have the tools to be that team.

The scheduled opponents benefit the A.L. and N.L. Central divisions

Under the new schedule format, teams will only be playing against their division and their corresponding interleague division. This hurts the East and West teams as there are several dominant teams in those regions. The Central features terrible teams such as the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Sox will have 24 games against these teams. That means nearly half of their schedule will be against the bottom feeders of the league. The Sox will just need to take advantage.

On top of that, there really is no juggernaut that the Sox will have to face in this 60 game season. The closest team to that would be the Minnesota Twins, who have clearly regressed this year. An aging Nelson Cruz and their lack of starting pitching depth will hurt the Twins in 2020. Obviously adding the thunder that Josh Donaldson’s bat will provide is an upgrade, but their starting staff is seriously lacking. Even if the Twins can repeat their 2019 performance, the Sox are only on the hook for 10 games with them. Lucas Giolito shut them out last year, maybe he can do it again.

The Sox should be able to hold their own against the Cleveland Indians, as they finished with a winning record against them last year for the first time since 2015. On top of that, the NL Central will feature the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Cincinnati Reds. The argument could be made that the only team among them that has improved since last year is the Reds, so there is not much to fear. They are all good ballclubs, but the Sox should be able to hold their own up against them. This division is very winnable for the South Siders, all it will take is consistency and confidence in order to rise to the top.

The delay to the season provides the Sox with pitching depth

Back in March, as the Sox were heading into the 2020 season, their most questionable area was their starting rotation. It was looking to go something like this:

  1. Lucas Giolito
  2. Dallas Keuchel
  3. Reynaldo Lopez
  4. Dylan Cease
  5. Gio Gonzalez

Now that rotation is the best the Sox have had in years. It offered upside, but the two main questions were just how effective were Cease and Lopez going to be? Now that question is a little less dire. The delay inadvertently allowed for Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Jimmy Lambert, and Dane Dunning to heal a little bit longer.

Make no mistake, these pitchers will most likely not be active on Opening Day, but they should be throwing and rehabbing enough to be available if the Sox have pitching woes. Kopech should be throwing fire not long into the season and having Rodon’s arm is a wonderful insurance policy to have for the rotation. Needless to say, the Sox have options when it comes to the rotation. A luxury not everyone in their division has, namely the Minnesota Twins.

While these recovering arms will need time, it will not be nearly as long as it would have been in March. So if the Sox should need them, reinforcements will be on the way.

The Sox are a young team that can catch fire in a short season

Heading into the season, the Sox had finally built a young core. They had also supplemented this young core with several big free agent signings in Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, and Dallas Keuchel. Heading into the 2020 season, Chicago is ready to take the league by storm. Tim Anderson had built a brand for himself which the MLB has noticed, advertising him with the top players in the league. Many players were active in the media stating that the time to win was now. Lucas Giolito went on Barstool Sport’s Redline Radio Podcast and declared that “The rebuild was over.”

The players are ready to win and the talent is there for the Sox. In 60 games, they will just need to stay hot and play to the best of their abilities to reach the playoffs. Top prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal will be called up this year to fill in the last two weak spots in the lineup. Not only do these two have major upside, but they both bring a lot of defensive value. Even if they struggle this season at the plate, it is important to keep in mind that a 60 game sample size is not representative of the players they will become. Patience with these two prospects will be key. Nonetheless, they will be improvements over Yolmer Sanchez and Adam Engel from last year. The White Sox are quickly becoming one of the most dangerous lineups in the league.

This combination of young budding stars in Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Lucas Giolito mixed with established veterans such as Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu, and Dallas Keuchel, could be the key to a winning season.

Dallas Keuchel also stepped up and hosted an organizational get together in the spring. According to several players, this really rallied the club together. His mom also may have given the Sox players some words to define what will be a hectic season.

So to quote Dallas Keuchel’s dear mother, “Playoffs or die, bitches!”

 

 

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