The White Sox had very high expectations heading into the start of the 2021 season. However, over the last few weeks, the team just cannot catch a break.
The first setback came a week before the season started when Eloy Jimenez injured his pectoral tendon trying to rob a home run in spring training. The injury resulted in the 2020 Silver Slugger having to sit out the first four to five months of the season. The worst part about the injury was that fans feared if Jimenez kept playing in the outfield he would injure himself badly. Jimenez injured himself multiple times in the outfield during his first four years, but none of them were severe. This time he did not get so lucky.
The White Sox have had a bit of a hard time trying to figure out what to do without their most powerful bat. Many fans wanted the team to sign another good bat for depth this offseason, such as Nelson Cruz or Joc Pederson, but the White Sox settled for Adam Eaton. Now that decision may come back to bite them because one of the team’s weaknesses is depth.
The first series against the Angels did not go as expected. The biggest problem the White Sox had in that series was the fielding. The team was responsible for seven earned runs in the first three games of the year. Without extremely costly errors, the White Sox very well could have started off the season 3-0.
Another issue that has been very unexpected is the bullpen. Many people projected the White Sox to have perhaps the best bullpen in baseball. However, the bullpen has struggled a bit to start the season. Lucas Giolito gave a great five and third in game one, however, the bullpen could not seal the deal. Part of that was a result of Madrigal’s error in the eighth, but nevertheless, it was not a great performance by the bullpen. The White Sox won game two, but Liam Hendriks still gave up two runs in the ninth inning. Lance Lynn did very well in game three, but Evan Marshall blew the game in the eighth.
There are a lot of positive things to be talked about nevertheless. First is the historic start of Yermin Mercedes. Mercedes spent 10 years in minor leagues and independent baseball prior to making his major league debut. In his first-ever start, Mercedes went 5/5. He followed that up by getting three more hits including a home run the next game and started off the season 8/8. He is the first player in MLB history to start off a season 8/8. Mercedes has not cooled off either. He has recorded a hit in each game, including three hits against the Mariners. It is a story that any minor leaguer can look up to.
Another positive is the start to the season for Michael Kopech. The White Sox acquired Kopech along with Moncada from the Red Sox when they traded Chris Sale. Kopech missed the last two seasons; one being from Tommy John, and another being from opting out. He is now back and better than ever. Kopech is coming out of the bullpen to begin the season but has been a strikeout machine. Through four innings pitched, he has eight strikeouts and no earned runs. His fastball has a lot more movement at 96-97 than it did at 100. That is the main reason for his increase in production.