CHICAGO—The White Sox ended their 2020 regular season with a 10-8 loss to the Cubs. It wasn't without a valiant fight, as they trailed by as many as nine runs before making it a much closer game than it should have been.
Ready or not, the playoffs start Tuesday.
Last ride (of the regular season)
The 2020 season has been largely a major success for the White Sox. While there were, and are, plenty of question marks to go around as they stand just two days away from their first playoff appearance in 12 years, the young talent was undeniable.
Lucas Giolito continued his emergence as one of the best pitchers in the American League. Tim Anderson continued his emergence as one of the best hitters in the American league, and quite frankly all of baseball. While he slowed up a bit towards the end of the season, rookie sensation Luis Robert showed everyone throughout the season why Sox fans should be excited for years to come. Eloy Jiménez put together an extremely solid season with the bat, and while his defensive play is still a concern, he's already proven to be an offensive force in the middle of this lineup. Dallas Keuchel did a great impression of Dallas Keuchel this season, as he steadied the ship in every start he made. The young and unproven bullpen helped bail out an occasionally shaky starting rotation all season long as rookie arms like Codi Heuer, Garrett Crochet, and Matt Foster look like long-term pieces.
Last, and far from least, is José Abreu. In a year where many, including myself, predicted offensive decline, Pito went out and became the MVP frontrunner in the American League.
The Sox may have found this success a year or two earlier than expected, but they will take every ounce of the experience, specifically in the postseason, no matter the result.
Reynaldo López had a quick 1-2-3 top of the first inning, but after that, trouble started. He couldn't get out of the second inning and had to be relieved by Carlos Rodón. López allowed six runs to the newly-awakened Cubs offense, and while no one was relying on López as a potential Game 3 playoff starter, his performance Sunday should put any possibility of that happening to rest. At this point, I'm not sure how and where López fits into the Sox future plans in any capacity, MAYBE outside of turning into a middle reliever.
On that topic, after the game Ricky Renteria failed to clear up a cloudy circumstance surrounding a Game 3 starter.
"[The picture] is not any clearer, but I’m sure we'll have some ideas as to how to proceed," he said. We have three guys capable of at least starting."
Garrett Crochet is an interesting possibility to start Game 3, although almost certainly not among the three names Ricky has in mind. The Sox might not be bold enough to throw the very, very recently called-up rookie with no minor league experience into the fire like that, but with scarce options, why not?
Billy Hamilton homered. Yep, Billy Hamilton
Billy Hamilton homered in the fourth off of Jace Fry, extending the Cubs lead to seven.
The Sox showed quite a bit of fight in this one, plating five runs in the bottom of the eighth, and another two in the ninth, taking advantage of some wobbly Cubs relievers. This game got so close that Nomar Mazara came up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth representing the tying run, only to be called out on a very questionable strike-three call.
Even though it wasn't enough, it was good to see their offense show a little something in their final tuneup before the postseason begins.
Well, outside of yesterday's win, it's been about as dreadful a two-week stretch as you'll see in baseball. With all of that said, on Tuesday the Sox will still lace up and make their first playoff appearance in 12 years.
We didn't know we'd be getting any baseball in 2020, and when we did, it didn't seem likely we'd see it for very long. We ended up seeing the full, 60-game season, along with some extra games, pending playoff results. I am far from an optimist when it comes to White Sox baseball, but personally, I've missed playoff baseball on the south side pretty badly over the last decade and change, so forgive me if I'm keeping my complaints, at least for this season, to a minimum. Yes, there are glaring holes on this roster that need to be addressed in the offseason. But in the meantime, the 2020 playoffs are bound to be weird as hell, and the struggling White Sox are still a pretty darn good baseball team. Let's see how weird this season gets, and try to maybe enjoy it, because joy is still a feeling sports fans are allowed to have ... right?