Everything is different for the White Sox.
They’re playing in a season that is unlike any other in history due to COVID-19.
The expectations are different. Even though they were getting pounded before rallying late in a 9-6 loss to the Royals Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Sox are a good team with legitimate playoff hopes.
The trade deadline is different.
Dating back to the Zach Duke deal in July of 2016, the White Sox have been veteran sellers and prospect adders.
That is not the case this year. The Sox are eyeing established starting pitchers before Monday afternoon’s deadline, and the Rangers’ Lance Lynn, Angels’ Dylan Bundy and Giants’ Kevin Gausman are among the names being floated.
The White Sox are solid at the top of their rotation with Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease. Dane Dunning is an intriguing young arm who makes his second major-league start for the Sox Sunday, but it is pretty clear more help is needed.
The big difference is the White Sox have to decide how high of a price they are willing to pay for a proven starter.
Earlier this month, general manager Rick Hahn was already thinking about the ramifications that would come with adding a veteran.
“We continue to be focused on the long term, to get ourselves in the best position not just this year but the long term,” Hahn said. “By that I mean essentially in all probability, depending on pricing, rentals are not where we are going to invest if we wind up doing anything. It would be more about something that would help us in (20)20 as well as ‘21 and beyond.
“Never say never. In the end it’s all going to come down to pricing, if there is a way to get better and we were comfortable with that exchange.”
Sox manager Rick Renteria always tried to stay focused when Hahn was trading one veteran after another the past three years. He’s keeping the same approach this season.
“Any organization or any club is always trying to improve and I think we’re no different than anybody else,” Renteria said. “I’m sure Rick and Kenny (Williams) and the front office are not going to limit themselves on any possibilities. We’re sitting in a good place right now with the men that we have. The possibility of action, it always remains.”
In Saturday’s loss to the Royals, Cease allowed 1 run while throwing 93 pitches in 4⅓ innings.
“I kept us in there but it wasn’t very good,” said Cease, who was 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA in his previous five outings. “Didn’t execute pitches great, obviously. A lot of walks (6) in there, so definitely, a lot of room to be better.”
Trailing 9-3 late after Kansas City roughed up reliever Zack Burdi for 5 runs in the seventh inning, the White Sox made it interesting with 3 runs in the ninth.
While losing for just the second time in 12 games, the Sox set a franchise record for most home runs in a month (52) when Edwin Encarnacion hit a 2-run shot in the fourth inning.
“We’ve been locked in,” said Tim Anderson, who was 4-for-5 while raising his batting average to an American League best .361. “The energy has been carrying from top to bottom. Being able to do something like that (HR record), we’re definitely going to cheer for that.
“But we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep going and try to keep that same momentum headed to next month and keep rallying around each other and continue to get better.”