Strikeouts not enough for slumping White Sox pitchers

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Two baseball fans wearing paper bags on their heads watch Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Reynaldo Lopez during the eighth inning of the team's baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Chicago White Sox are showing so far that strikeouts aren't everything.

Chicago's pitching staff leads the major leagues with 10.17 strikeouts per nine innings. The White Sox also have a team ERA of 5.96 — only Oakland is worse at the moment. Those pitching woes are a big reason Chicago has been perhaps baseball's most disappointing team to this point. The White Sox pulled off a dramatic 12-9 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday, but they'd lost 10 in a row prior to that, and even after the victory they are 8-21.

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Fangraphs.com gives Chicago just a 4% chance of making the playoffs, even in a manageable AL Central. The White Sox have already allowed at least 12 runs in a game five times.

In some ways, the White Sox are a reflection of their ace pitcher. Last year, Dylan Cease issued the most walks in the majors but still posted a 2.20 ERA and finished second in the Cy Young vote.

This season, he's 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA, and as a team, Chicago's pitching is a mess. The White Sox have struck out a lot of hitters, but they've also allowed 48 home runs and 124 walks. Again, only Oakland has been worse in both those categories.

Two years ago, Chicago won 93 games and appeared to have pulled off a successful rebuild. The White Sox had just won a division title by 13 games, and Cease, Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodón, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez and Yoán Moncada were all in their 20s. Now Anderson and Moncada are on the injured list, Rodón is a New York Yankee, and the start of Chicago's season has been a disaster.

ON THE MEND?

Philadelphia was another team that began slowly this season, but the Phillies didn't stay down for long. They've won seven of their last nine games — including two of three at Houston in a World Series rematch — and are back above .500. There's also a chance Bryce Harper could return from his injured elbow this week.

Trea Turner has had a quiet start for the Phillies, so their offense could use Harper. On the pitching side, Aaron Nola has had three straight quality starts, including an eight-inning, one-run effort against Houston on Friday night.

LINE OF THE WEEK

Nathan Eovaldi of the Texas Rangers threw a three-hit shutout Saturday night in a 2-0 win over the New York Yankees. He struck out eight.

The Yankees also lost to the Rangers the next day, 15-2. They've dropped six of eight and are now just a game over .500, tied with Boston at the bottom of the AL East.

TRIVIA TIME

Name the four pitchers besides Eovaldi who have pitched shutouts this season.

COMEBACK OF THE WEEK

Give the White Sox credit for this, at least: When they finally snapped their 10-game skid, they did it in style.

Chicago was down 9-5 in the bottom of the ninth Sunday against Tampa Bay. With one out, the White Sox strung together a single, a hit batter and then an RBI double by Jake Burger. A sacrifice fly made it a two-run game but left Chicago down to its last out.

Elvis Andrus then hit an RBI single, and Lenyn Sosa followed with a single of his own. Adam Haseley tied it with a single that scored Andrus. Then Andrew Vaughn hit a three-run homer to give the White Sox a 12-9 victory.

Earlier in the inning, Chicago's win probability was at 0.6% according to Baseball Savant.

TRIVIA ANSWER

Sandy Alcantara, Gerrit Cole, Max Fried and Alex Cobb.

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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