The White Sox are out of the postseason for the ninth straight year, leaving Sox fans to once again pick favorites from afar.
If you choose your team based on former rooting interests, here’s what the survey of the field turns up, in order from least to most compelling.
Rockies: There are no former White Sox on the Rockies’ roster — even their expanded roster or 60-day DL.
Diamondbacks: There are no former White Sox on the Diamondbacks’ roster -- even their expanded roster or 60-day DL.
Dodgers: Brandon McCarthy, the last 2005 White Sox still active on an MLB roster (Neal Cotts pitched all season in Triple-A), will get a shot at a second ring. Trayce Thompson appeared for the Dodgers in September, but he probably won’t be a part of any October run, as he went 6-for-49 in limited MLB action this season. He hasn’t been the same since his back injury.
Nationals: This was supposed to be Adam Eaton’s shot at October glory, but he’s been done for the year. One of the guys who has tried to take his place? Alejandro De Aza! I’m guessing his .194/.223/.323 line will not be on the postseason roster. Matt Albers will be in the middle of the Nats’ run, as he finished the year with a 1.62 ERA and more strikeouts (63) than innings (61). The indefatigable Edwin Jackson is also a possibility, although he’s started all of his 13 games, and the Nationals bullpen might not need him.
Cubs: Alex Avila is every bit the backup catcher the White Sox hoped he’d be last year, but this will be all about Jose Quintana, who finished his first half-season on the North Side with a 3.74 ERA and 98 strikeouts over 84 1⁄3 innings. He’s thrown himself into Game 1 consideration, what with Jon Lester wobbly and Jake Arrieta trying to get over a hamstring injury.
Twins: They’re a team that completed the journey from teardown to postseason, although a wild card alone isn’t enough to call the rebuild a success just yet. Eduardo Escobar is the only former Sox involved (Bartolo Colon is not on the roster).
Astros: You can call the rebuilding a success here, but unless you count Chris Devenski — the player to be named later in the Brett Myers deal — the only former White Sox on board are partial-season relievers Francisco Liriano and Tyler Clippard. It could’ve been Quintana, but they ended up with Justin Verlander instead.
Indians: Just like Avila, Austin Jackson played like the White Sox either signed him a year too early, demanded too much from him, or both. Jackson’s hitting .318/.387/.482 as Cleveland’s fourth outfielder.
Yankees: If their bullpen wins Cleveland- and Kansas City-like acclaim for its work in October, they can thank the White Sox for David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Robertson has been lights-out since returning to New York, while Kahnle looks more mortal than he did before the trade. Todd Frazier is more or less the same guy, so average them out, and nobody will accuse the White Sox of false advertising.
Red Sox: A White Sox draft success story reached October with another team, as Addison Reed should pitch in some important situations out of the bullpen.
Also, Chris Sale will make his first postseason start, and it’ll come against his former AL Central rival Verlander. It should’ve happened between the White Sox and Tigers, but now it’s Boston-Houston. I’ve always wondered whether the combination of his late-season fades and big-start overthrowing would result in October disappointment, and now that will be put to the test.
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The American League is much more compelling to me, and not just because I’ve listened to Hawk Harrelson my entire life. The Red Sox are the only team perceived to be less than themselves heading into October, but even they had a fine September record:
- CLE: 25-4
- NYY: 20-8
- HOU: 20-8
- BOS: 17-10
- MIN: 14-14 (but 6-3 over their last nine)
The NL doesn’t quite have the same speed involved in their head-to-head collisions ..
- CHC: 19-9
- ARI: 16-11
- WAS: 16-9
- COL: 15-13
- LAD: 12-17
... and the team at the top has questions up and down the pitching staff. If the Nationals don’t have Max Scherzer, that’s another blow for name-brand quality. Looking at the teams, I’m most intrigued by a potential Dodgers-Diamondbacks matchup, as the D-backs played a prominent role in LA’s August slide. The rest will have to play themselves into game shape.
Conversely, I’m here for Indians-Yankees, Indians-Astros and Yankees-Astros based on their multi-faceted rosters, but I’m all for multiple Sale starts in October if the Red Sox intervene. I can’t say I’m rooting for the Twins, but if they crash the party, that’ll be a draw in its own right, especially since they were sellers at the deadline.