The Chicago White Sox sit with a magic number in single digits now, and it is time to discuss who makes the final cut for the American League Division Series, most likely against the Houston Astros, barring anything unforeseen. They need 26 guys to fill the roster. Most are fixtures in the lineup or on the pitching staff, but some unexpected names could be on the outside looking in.
Per Major League Baseball, here are the rules: "Teams submit a 26-man roster (it was 25, prior to 2020) prior to each round of the postseason comprised of postseason-eligible players. A club may request permission from the Commissioner's Office to replace a player who is injured during the course of a series, but that player is then ineligible for the rest of that round and the subsequent round, if there is one. A pitcher may be replaced only by another pitcher, and a position player only by another position player."
Without further ado, here is your 26-man playoff roster.
- Yasmani Grandal
- José Abreu
- César Hernández
- Tim Anderson
- Yoán Moncada
- Luis Robert
- Eloy Jiménez
- Adam Engel
- Leury García
- Seby Zavala
- Andrew Vaughn
- Brian Goodwin
- Billy Hamilton
That last spot on this list is the hardest choice. It will depend if the White Sox front office prioritizes speed and defense or left-handed power. Both are critical in the modern game, but even with Andrew Vaughn struggling as of late, he is more-or-less an automatic add to the playoff roster. More than likely, Vaughn could be used as a platoon in the outfield with the return of Adam Engel against the Texas Rangers. Vaughn only holds a .271 wOBA and 71 wRC+ against righties this year. In 78 plate appearances, Engel is up at 153, just shy of Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal.
Now, Hamilton is not strong at the dish, but he will be a late game sub in a lead or a critical pinch-runner. His sprint speed is 29.6 feet/second. This ranks in the 98th percentile in all of baseball. Sox fans also remember his ability to flash the leather late in games, as well. This cements him on the roster, unless the White Sox are that keen on power over defense and speed.
Gavin Sheets and Brian Goodwin both have one critical flaw this season: they cannot hit lefties. Even with solid slash lines and power numbers for seemingly platoon players, both have a negative wRC+ against left-handers. Sheets also only has 15 plate appearances versus southpaws this season. However, Goodwin has the ability to play every outfield position, where Sheets would probably only be safe in left field. This, plus the veteran edge, will most likely earn Goodwin the nod over Sheets. That said, it does depend on if the White Sox value another power bat on their bench or not. In that case, Sheets will be the next man available and could manage his way onto the roster. With Dallas Keuchel struggling mightily, this is not out of the question.
This seems pretty set. Even with the injuries to Lynn, Rodón, and Giolito, Dallas Keuchel probably takes a back seat to Reynaldo López at this point. Keuchel ranks in the second percentile with a 6.04 xERA. He only strikes out 13.5% of hitters, which is low even by his sinker-baller standard. Finally, he has a 7.00 ERA in the second half. Every other pitcher has shown improvement or stability. Lynn, Rodón, Giolito, and Cease are shoo-ins for the rotation. Keuchel is the odd man out.
- Liam Hendriks
- Craig Kimbrel
- Ryan Tepera
- Aaron Bummer
- Michael Kopech
- Garrett Crochet
- Reynaldo López
- José Ruiz
- Dallas Keuchel
Ryan Burr could be the alternative in a series outside of the ALDS, but Dallas Keuchel will more than likely just move to the bullpen to add a lefty alternative to Crochet and Bummer. Keuchel has been brutal this season, but the White Sox do not look like they will have another option, as Burr only has a 5.40 ERA in the second half.
Jace Fry is another option, if the White Sox would like to add another lefty into the mix, instead of Dallas. He has only pitched three innings this season, but seeing how Keuchel has been so consistently awful each appearance, an alternative may be the solution. Fry probably would not see the pitching rubber, unless something was going horribly wrong for the Sox.
On the other hand, if they would like to carry another bat and shorten the bullpen staff for the five-game series, that could make sense. If that was the case, both Gavin Sheets and Brian Goodwin would make the roster. The White Sox will look to have another long relief option in case they find themselves in a bind, though, even if the likelihood of Keuchel getting into a game is slim to none.
That about rounds out the White Sox playoff roster. There are a few questions, mainly on how they want to fill the bench and if they want to utilize another bat, instead of a toiling Dallas Keuchel. He has not necessarily impressed the last few months, so do not be surprised if the White Sox find another option to complete the roster.