Continuing from our season preview of the White Sox earlier today…
Can the White Sox carry their success from last season over into 2013?
There are quite a few questions for this White Sox team heading into the new season, but they all funnel into this one gigantic question. Was last year a fluke? Or can the Sox come out and give the Detroit Tigers a run for their money in the division again? If they hope to make another run at contention this year, they're going to answer several questions in order to do so.
Can Tyler Flowers effectively replace A.J. Piersynski as the man behind the dish? Flowers had an abysmal season last year, batting .213 in 153 plate appearances at the Major League level. The .278/.326/.501/.827, 27 home runs, and 77 runs knocked in from A.J. isn't going to be easy to replace.
It certainly would help if Dayan Viciedo can establish himself as part of the future for this team. He had a fine offensive season last year, with 25 home runs, but it'd be nice if he could bring that .255 average up a bit. If he can come through again, this is a dangerous lineup to face, between Viciedo, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko, and Adam Dunn.
What this season is probably going to come down to for the South Siders, though, is their pitching. Chris Sale has to stay healthy. There's a concern that he's eventually going to succumb to injury and be shelved for a few months. That hasn't happened yet, though. He's coming off of a fantastic season and is fresh off a new deal. He's the unquestioned ace of this staff. If you want a health concern, look at Jake Peavy. He tossed 219 innings, his highest total since 2007. Can he possibly do that for two seasons in a row?
Bounce back seasons are going to be required from both John Danks and Gavin Floyd. Danks had an ERA near six before an injury ended his season, and Floyd struggled to maintain any sort of consistency. The bullpen on this team is quietly one of the better groups in the American League. It's going to be on the shoulders of the starting pitching to help them out a bit with quality starts.
This White Sox team isn't quite elite, but they're not quite mediocre either. This is a solid squad. They have plenty of pop offensively, particularly in the middle of the order. They have a very good bullpen, led by closer Addison Reed. If their starting pitching can stay healthy and provide some good and steady production, this team is going to be in the thick of things in 2013.