The start of the 2018 season for the Chicago White Sox has taken a sharp nosedive following the high of their season-opening win when they scored 14 runs against the Kansas City Royals.
The team has won just eight games since the season opener with four of those wins coming against the Royals. To make matters worse, the team has dealt with hardships related injuries, the weather, and a life-threating situation. If things stay the way they are, the team could be looking at the worst season in franchise history from a record and misfortunes standpoint.
The team has lost 25 of 32 games since their first series of the year and have lost nine of those games by three runs or more. The biggest issues that plagued the team early was their lack of hitting and a highly inconsistent bullpen. The home opener against the Detroit Tigers was spoiled when the bullpen blew a three-run lead in the 9th and lost the game in the 10th inning.
Two weeks later, the team held a five-run lead over the Oakland Athletics only to lose the game in 14 innings 12-11. Closing games has been an issue as the team has blown three saves so far, all leading to losses. The latest occurring Wednesday as Nate Jones gave up four runs in the 9th inning allowing the Pirates to win 6-5.
The weather has also been an issue for the White Sox as they have had most of their season affected by inclement weather. Four games so far have been canceled due to unplayable weather conditions. A three-game weekend series against the Twins was canceled due to below freezing temperatures and a blizzard that dropped over 15 inches of snow on the Minneapolis area.
Many of their games in April were played in temperatures lower than 50 degrees which had an effect on several players such as pitcher Lucas Giolito who made several of his first starts in chilly temperatures.
The biggest strain on the team has been injuries to both their prospects and their key players.
2017 First round pick Jake Burger was lost early in spring training to a ruptured Achilles tendon, but to make matters worse, Burger re-tore the same tendon this week extending his recovery time even longer. Late in spring training, outfield prospects Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez suffered injuries delaying the start of their 2018 campaigns. Jimenez returned a few weeks ago and has been on a tear of late hitting in Double-A Birmingham. Robert is still a few weeks away from a return to in-game action in the minors.
At the Major League level, the White Sox lost their best hitter from the 2017 season in Avisail Garcia who was placed on the disabled list on April 24th after pulling his hamstring. The team’s biggest star in second baseman Yoan Moncada also suffered a hamstring pull this past weekend and was placed on the DL before Saturday’s game.
Moncada was starting to come around at the plate as his batting average had risen to .263.
The toughest moment for the team this season didn’t even involve baseball as the team nearly lost reliever Danny Farquhar when he fainted in the dugout and suffered a near-fatal brain aneurysm on April 20th. Having Farquhar being rushed from the dugout by EMTs was a traumatic event for all as television cameras showed him being hurried out of the dugout. Farquhar was released from the hospital this past week which was good news for him and his teammates who continually showed their care and support for him during his recovery in the hospital.
Playing a 162 game season is tough for every team, but is even harder for a team when injuries and outside factors are forced on top of them. Injuries are apart of the game also, but the extent and timing of injuries can be more impactful on a team’s mental makeup.
The White Sox are not expected to do much this season, but the close losses are simply more maddening as those are the games you need to win. If there is a silver lining for the young White Sox team, it is that it is better to have these hardships and misfortunes out of the way while they are still rebuilding and not when they are ready to contend for a championship.