By Terrence Tomlin
Do the Southsiders have a chip on their shoulders from their sour exit out of the 2021 playoffs? The White Sox are letting their play on the field answer that question so far this year and have an AL Central leading 6-3 record to show for it after taking 2 out of 3 games from the Tampa Bay Rays. Their 3rd straight series win to open the 2022 season. With their depth and grit already being put to the test, much like the previous year, due to injury, early wins seem even more vital to this years success.
After the Sox took the first two games of the season with identical 3-2 scores, Tampa salvaged the 3rd game and avoided the sweep beating the Sox 9-3.
Big arms like Lance Lynn and reliever Joe Kelly have started the season on the shelf and lefft them needing to embrace the "next man up" mentality fresh out the gate for a 2nd straight year. However, answering the call has been Dylan Cease. Now in his 4th year, his delightful new mustache isn't the only thing getting attention when he's on the mound. After putting 226 K's on the board in 2021, he's 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA with 16 strikeouts in his first 2 appearances. Cease's seeingly continued progression is a welcomed sight for a squad that needs a true ace as they also watch Michael Kopech take steps in the right direction(threw 5 innings of 1 hit baseball on Saturday). For the time being, if Cease can sustain this level of play, his ascension into a premiere arm in the league will be a true boost to the pulse of a team that always seems to be a play away from their next season altering circumstance.
One alarming fact is that Tampa Bay scored the same amount of runs in the final game that the White Sox scored in the entire series, outscoring the Southsider's 13-9 in a series that they lost. If the White Sox's bats are going to stay cold for extended periods of time, do the Sox have the arms to carry them? That may be a question they hope they won't have to answer.