A sweep of the Detroit Tigers would have been the ideal way for the Chicago White Sox to begin the 2022 season, but sometimes the ball bounces off the wall, just over the right fielders’ glove for a game-winning hit. Hey, it’s a 162-game season, there’s going to be some head scratchers.
How the White Sox didn’t want to start their season, however, is with another player on IL before the completion of game No. 1. Lucas Giolito got the opening day start, and was strong through four innings — six strikeouts, two walks, and one hit. In the fourth inning he began to feel discomfort and did not return. Giolito was diagnosed with an oblique injury and Tony La Russa told the media on Saturday that he will miss at least two starts while on the 10-day IL.
If it isn’t obvious by players across the league wearing long sleeves underneath their jerseys, it’s extremely early in the season. And for the White Sox, anything resembling last season should be considered a positive. They won 90 or more games for the first time in 15 years. However, that season could have been even better if it hadn’t been spent dealing with injuries.
Eloy Jiménez didn’t make his season debut until late July because of a torn pectoral muscle during Spring Training. Luis Robert suffered a hip flexor injury in May of last season and didn’t return until August. Just as both of those two were beginning baseball activities in early July, Yasmani Grandal suffered a knee injury that kept him out for nearly two months. Tim Anderson missed 39 total games in 2021
The White Sox were also without Nick Madrigal all season, and managed Carlos Rodón as well as they could, but an elbow injury got him in September. Rodón did pitch in Game 4 against the Houston Astros during the ALDS, but after giving up two runs in the third inning he was pulled. Michael Kopech was monitored closely last season, working out of the bullpen in his first season on the field since a brief, successful, 2018 season was ended with a UCL injury — Kopech opted out of the truncated 2020 season. He is back in the starting rotation this year.
Going into the 2022 regular season, the White Sox were already down Yoán Moncada with an oblique injury, and Lance Lynn — their top starting pitcher and best player last season per WAR — had surgery on his right knee and is not expected to return for at least a month. The White Sox have already attempted to fill Lynn’s void in the rotation by signing 36-year-old Johnny Cueto.
There’s no shame in 93 wins, but it might have been nice to have the home field advantage last season, or get a better first-round matchup than the Houston Astros who have been one of the best teams in baseball for five years. A few games is all that usually separates the teams at the top of the playoff standings, and if the White Sox have another season littered with injuries, they could find themselves in a very disadvantageous spot with the new playoff format.
No longer are all division winners guaranteed a reprieve from the wild card. Starting this postseason, the division winner with the worst record will have to play in a three-game wild-card series. That would be a shame if they win their division in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history and they get stuck in a best of three for their postseason lives, because they again have to play a couple of months without some of their best players.
It’s all there for the White Sox. They took the scenic route to build a contender, but Rick Hahn and Ken Williiams have done it. Now they just have to hope that some overdue injury luck breaks their way, so the story of this season won’t be the same as the last.
They were really good, but imagine how much better they could have been.