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updated: 6/29/2014 10:47 PM

Pattern says White Sox a .500 team

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  • Believe it or not, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu is not a sure thing for American League Rookie of the Year. Not the way Masahiro Tanaka is pitching for the Yankees.

      Believe it or not, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu is not a sure thing for American League Rookie of the Year. Not the way Masahiro Tanaka is pitching for the Yankees.
    Associated Press

 
 

Barely past the midpoint of the season, the White Sox have displayed again just how quickly things can change.

It was just more than a couple of weeks ago the Sox still were flirting with .500, as they had been doing since the beginning of the season. You remember the pattern … at .500, fall a couple of games below, back to .500, a game or two above, then right back to even. It went on like that for better than two months.

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At no point this season had the Sox been more than three games below that mark. That was until June 20, when they fell to 35-39 at the beginning of a road trip that started with 7 losses in eight games.

Just that swiftly, the question went from, "Will they finish around .500?" to "This isn't another 90-loss team, is it?"

The three-game winning streak and a series win against the first-place Blue Jays to end the 11-game trip might have quelled the latter question a bit, but that merely advances the idea the rest of this season will be somewhat unpredictable.

The Tigers are a strong team with few holes aside from the bullpen, which makes it unlikely the Sox will come back and win the division. But just how close to .500 will the Sox finish?

I still think they're a better team than last year, so I think 99 losses won't happen. A near-.500 season is still very much a possibility and, as I've said before, that would be nice victory for a team that's trying to move in the right direction away from a miserable 2013.

Now who's closing?

Since Ronald Belisario was removed as the primary closer, the Sox have had only one save opportunity. Zach Putnam got that chance and converted, though he did make it a little interesting by giving up a run and allowing the tying run to reach.

Those uncomfortable finishes are the kind of thing the Sox are trying to avoid, but that appearance shouldn't prevent Putnam from getting another shot.

Also, I fully expect Jake Petricka and Javy Guerra to get chances as the Sox feel this whole thing out, and don't be surprised if Belisario gets another opportunity at some point. Pitching coach Don Cooper did not rule out that possibility when I asked him about it.

When the top two relievers go down to lengthy injuries, a team has to make do with what they have.

Rookie of the Year?

If it goes on like this for the rest of the season, I honestly have no idea what will happen in the Rookie of the Year race. Clearly, Jose Abreu is having a historic start to his career as nobody has ever hit as many home runs in as few games.

Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka is absolutely dominating hitters for the Yankees. Even when he loses, he's outstanding. Not many times will you see a complete game, 2-run, 8-strikeout loss from a starter.

Your guess is as good as mine on this one.

• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter@ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com.

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