2020 Postseason Preview: Athletics V. White Sox
Time to pat ourselves on the back and play Nostradamus once again.
As The Spitter predicted, a couple of teams took full advantage of a short season to make the 2020 playoffs and were helped by major-league baseball‘s 16 team playoff format. In the American League the Chicago White Sox got off to a blazing start and were in first place for most of the season. But then the losing started. As the old saying goes you’re never as good as your best game and you’re never as bad as your worst. Chicago hopes that’s true after going 3–9 in its final 12 games to cough up the division title and drop all the way to seventh in the playoff standings.
That means they’ll face the number-two seed, the Oakland Athletics who are hoping to overcome a history of spectacular postseason Wild Card Game flameouts. Oakland has not looked the same since losing all star third baseman Matt Chapman. They’ve gone 8-8 since his injury to his hip on September 12. Even with a tepid finish, they ended with a 36–24 record.
The Spitter picked them to go 37- 23, but that was assuming a healthy Chapman. The threat of his bat will be missed even if he was only hitting .232 when he went on the injured list.
Had this been a full season I think Chicago would have been a .500 club. But before the season we recognized their offense and pitching has improved. And they are certainly dangerous. The good news for the A’s is the White Sox are struggling and this isn’t a single-game elimination, though they might wish it were after the series is over. Chicago has a one-two-three-four punch that’s as good as any in the league. Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu don’t get the publicity that Tim Anderson gets, but they both hit for average and power. Nick Madrigal has no power, but he’s hitting .340.
On the mound, Dallas Keuchel is pitching like Cy Young, Lucas Giolito is a solid number-two and Dylan Cease is okay as a number-three. If they have a bullpen game, they have enough arms to keep the A’s at bay. One big thing to look out for: Chicago walked 52 more batters than Oakland pitchers.
Offensively, neither team does a particularly good job getting on base. Oakland improved by picking up Tommy La Stella, but Chicago had 96 more hits. La Stella’s the only Athletic hitting better than .246. They also had 25 more home runs and without Chapman, someone will have to fill that void.
Given they’re identical pitching-wise, we have to go with Chicago in three.