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How will the AL Central race play out in the second half?

The White Sox will get back into the catbird seat — but it’s going to be tight all the way

MLB: APR 21 White Sox at Guardians Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to brettballantini@yahoo.com

We’ve been told all season long that the White Sox have an easy second-half schedule (they do) and they will play better against lesser competition (they will — hey, wait a minute, that part isn’t working out as well).

Chicago came into the break with a head of steam, winning three of four on the road against first-place Minnesota — and when I say “winning” I really mean punched them in the mouf. The Sunday, I-don’t-want-to-be-here effort by Minny made an already bad (series loss) situation much worse, because the White Sox had to look across the diamond at the sleepwalking and turn to each other to say, “we’re behind these clowns?”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The White Sox played all season as if the division was handed to them in March — Liam Hendriks admitted as much over the break — so we won’t make the same mistake here.

The following is an attempt to examine how the schedule will likely play out. Do the White Sox end up with the division title? (Spoiler alert — none of the three teams end up with good enough records to even sniff a wild card, so it’s division or bust.)


(all series are three games unless otherwise specified)

Heading into the second half:
Twins 50-44
Guardians 46-44
White Sox 46-46

White Sox split at home with Guardians, Twins split two games on the road at Detroit
Twins 51-45
Guardians 48-46
White Sox 48-48

White Sox split two games at Colorado, Twins split two games at Milwaukee, Cleveland loses four-game series at Boston
Twins 52-46
Guardians 49-49
White Sox 49-49

White Sox win series over A’s, Twins lose series at San Diego, Guardians lose series at Tampa Bay
Twins 53-48
White Sox 51-50
Guardians 50-51

White Sox sweep Royals, Twins win series over Tigers, Guardians sweep Diamondbacks
Twins 55-49
White Sox 54-50
Guardians 53-51

White Sox split four games at Texas, Twins split four games with Blue Jays, Guardians split four games with Astros
Twins 57-51
White Sox 56-52
Guardians 55-53

White Sox split four games at Kansas City, Twins swept in two games at Dodgers, Guardians lose series at Detroit
Twins 57-53
White Sox 58-54
Guardians 56-55

White Sox win series over Tigers, Twins lose series at Angels, Guardians lose series at Toronto
White Sox 60-55
Twins 58-55
Guardians 57-57

White Sox split four games with Astros, Twins wins series vs. Royals, Guardians win four-game series with Tigers
White Sox 62-57
Twins 60-56
Guardians 60-58

White Sox lose series at Cleveland, Twins split four games with Rangers
Twins 62-58
White Sox 63-59
Guardians 62-59

White Sox lose makeup game at Kansas City
Twins 62-58
Guardians 62-59
White Sox 63-60

White Sox lose at Baltimore, Twins lose at Houston, Guardians split two games at San Diego
Twins 63-60
Guardians 63-60
White Sox 64-62

White Sox win series over Diamondbacks, Twins lose series against Giants, Guardians lose four-game series at Seattle
White Sox 66-63
Twins 64-62
Guardians 64-63

White Sox sweep Royals, Twins win series over Red Sox, Guardians win series over Orioles
White Sox 69-63
Twins 66-63
Guardians 66-64

White Sox win series over Twins, Guardians win series over Mariners
White Sox 71-64
Guardians 68-65
Twins 67-65

White Sox lose series at Seattle, Twins lose four games at Yankees, Guardians win series at Kansas City
White Sox 72-66
Guardians 70-66
Twins 68-68

White Sox split four games at Oakland, Twins win series vs. Guardians
White Sox 74-68
Guardians 71-68
Twins 70-69

White Sox sweep two games vs. Rockies, Twins sweep Royals, Guardians win series vs. Angels
White Sox 76-68
Twins 73-69
Guardians 73-69

White Sox win series at Detroit, Twins lose three of five at Cleveland
White Sox 78-69
Guardians 76-71
Twins 75-72

White Sox win series vs. Guardians, Twins win series at Kansas City
White Sox 80-70
Twins 77-73
Guardians 77-73

White Sox win series vs. Tigers, Twins win series vs. Angels, Guardians lose series at Texas
White Sox 82-71
Twins 79-74
Guardians 78-75

White Sox lose series at Minnesota, Guardians win series vs. Rays
White Sox 83-73
Twins 81-75
Guardians 80-76

White Sox swept in series in San Diego, Twins win series at Detroit
White Sox 83-76
Twins 83-76
Guardians 80-76

White Sox win series vs. Twins, Guardians win five of six games vs. Royals
White Sox 85-77
Guardians 85-77
Twins 84-78

There is no tiebreaker game any longer. So we go to head-to-head record:
.
.
.
.
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Guardians win season series vs. White Sox, 11-8.


I have tried to apply logic to the matchups. Obviously, injuries will play a role. I felt I was being a bit generous to the White Sox, at until the very end. The logic of getting swept in San Diego is that it’s a long second leg of a trip, after a demoralizing series loss in Minnesota that cuts the division lead to two, and the Padres are fighting to host a playoff series. The White Sox have also traditionally run out of gas (2020 and 2021 both ended flatulently) at the end of the season.

The other big stretch is Cleveland winning five of six to end 2022, but the Royals will have much earlier cashed in their season, and the Guardians get nine games at home overall to end the year.

I’m interested to see how all of you see it playing out, and whether there are other whiffs in how I saw the schedule playing out. There are very few sweeps all told, so this presumes that the AL Central clubs, as bad as they are, never get too hot or too cold — until Cleveland at the end, the White Sox hold the hottest stretch, shooting from three games over at the end of August to 11 up heading into the home stretch.