The Chicago White Sox just finished a four-game series with the Houston Astros that they'd like to completely erase from their memory. It yielded conversations surrounding possible acquisitions and where the club can improve over the coming weeks.
After an exciting home series with the Tampa Bay Rays, where the team took two of three, the White Sox were dominated in Houston, getting outscored 27-8 over four games and making very little noise on the base paths. It was an odd set of games for a team that has provided electric offensive performances in just about every series up to this point of the 2021 season.
White Sox pitching surely could have been better, but the Astros' offense was buzzing long before the Sox came to town. When a team struggles to score runs, the pressure expands for a staff that has flexed their muscles all season long.
The obvious voids that Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Nick Madrigal have left in the lineup play a role in the lack of offense, but the Houston series was the quietest the bats have been in a long time. While it doesn't take much for White Sox Twitter to fall into a downward spiral, fans that chimed in had a valid reason to question the structure of this team compared to their opponents. Some called for adjustments to the roster from within, while others beckoned Rick Hahn to pick up the phone and call around for offensive help.
One player involved in those online discussions was designated hitter Yermin Mercedes. The slugger took the league by storm in the opening weeks of the season, which led him to become a fan and brand favorite, but his cooldown has been painful to watch. Between June 1-19, Mercedes is 6-for-49 (.122) with no home runs and four runs driven in. He's struck out 13 times and lacked any average stat surpassing .200.
The fan suggestion is to send him down to Triple-A Charlotte to work on his approach and gain some confidence again. However, it's reasonable to think that sending down a player who spent so much time working to get to the big leagues may be even more detrimental to his confidence than the actual slump. Some are calling for Gavin Sheets to get a shot at sparking the lineup, but there haven't been any legitimate rumblings of that quite yet.
If a mid-season call up isn't in the works, Sox supporters are beginning to fantasize about new faces on the south side via trade. One player that has been obliterating the baseball over the past few days is former Chicago Cub, Kyle Schwarber.
A power surge of five home runs in a two-game span has drawn eyes to the left-handed bat, who recently got called upon to take over the Washington Nationals' leadoff duties. Another name that has been thrown into the suggestion box is Nick Castellanos. Another former Cub, Castellanos has a .341 batting average with 13 long balls and 37 driven in this season, making him one of the top producers along with Jesse Winker for the Cincinnati Reds. What either of these players would cost to acquire is unknown, as is what the White Sox are willing to give up. That said, the suggestions will keep pouring in until the trade deadline gets here at the end of July.
The White Sox are obviously hoping the cold bats will be left in Houston as they head to Pittsburgh for a quick two-game set with the Pirates. However, the front office won't forget those performances when making offensive decisions in the near future as a championship-caliber team is desired.
Opinions range from the team being "just fine" and to not overvalue four games in the middle of June, to the team needing a big bat to help bolster the lineup until Jimenez and Robert return toward the end of the season. Either way, actions need to be taken if the less-than-whispering offense continues.
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