Before the opener of the White Sox-Blue Jays series on Tuesday, Rick Hahn said that somebody in his position would “want to have a reason to believe that this thing’s going to get right between now and Aug. 1.”
In just three days, the situation has deteriorated in four ways:
No. 2: The Twins won three in a row, so the Sox are now 8½ games out of first place.
No. 3: The Tigers made like the White Sox and lost two out of their last three to the A’s, yet still padded their third-place cushion to 2½ games.
No. 4: Joe Kelly went on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation.
The first and second points do not require elaboration. As for the third item, I don’t think it’s been emphasized enough that the White Sox have been stuck in fourth place for the last 17 games. The Tigers have a worse run differential and more injury and personnel problems, yet it’ll take a pair of weekend sweeps for the Sox to overtake them in the standings. That’s pretty grim, so consider this doing my part to emphasize it.
As for the last item, Kelly hit the IL before the rainout on Wednesday, and while Pedro Grifol tried to downplay it …
“He’s going to rest up, regroup,” Grifol said.
“But there’s nothing really that’s alarming or concerning, he’s just going to take a break.”
… there’s every reason to be suspicious when a player requires a break at a time when the team is effectively battling for its postseason life.
For argument’s sake, though, let’s take Grifol at his word. Even if it’s not alarming or concerning at an individual level, the White Sox injured list was already swollen with inflammation cases. Add Kelly to the pile, and now it’s positively tumescent:
- Joe Kelly: Right elbow inflammation
- Mike Clevinger: Right biceps inflammation
- Michael Kopech: Right shoulder inflammation
- Yoán Moncada: Lower back inflammation
- Garrett Crochet: Left elbow inflammation
- Liam Hendriks: Right elbow inflammation
- Romy González: Shoulder inflammation
Basically, you’re counting on a lot of open-ended injuries resolving themselves in a positive direction and staying that way, because the White Sox already used their one decent internal move by promoting Oscar Colás.
And even if they end up restoring the bulk of their injured list by the start of the second half, they’ll be greeted by an Atlanta Braves team that is a couple breaks from having won 20 in a row.
The White Sox eliminated the case for buying, and with extreme prejudice. There’s also no reason to stand pat, if only because of the number of expiring contracts. That leaves only one option, and for my sake, I hope they wait until after the All-Star break because the draft starts on Sunday, and one can only write so many words in a day.