The Chicago White Sox were one of the teams that had a major face lift this offseason. General manager Rick Hahn did his best to improve the many weaknesses of the White Sox, who won a mere 73 games in a season that saw the team finish fourth in the AL Central. Things look to be different in 2015, as the additions of David Robertson, Zach Duke, Adam LaRoche, Melky Cabrera, and Jeff Samardzija are all major upgrades over what the White Sox trotted out last year. Rookie second baseman Micah Johnson will also look to make some noise after his impressive Spring.
Without further ado, here are three keys for the White Sox to secure a victory against the defending AL champion Royals in Kansas City.
1.) Jeff Samardzija must continue being excellent on Opening Day
Samardzija, acquired from the Oakland A’s in a December trade, has started the last two Opening Days for the Chicago Cubs. In those two outings, both in Pittsburgh, Samadzija held his opponents scoreless over a combined 15 innings. If the White Sox are going to win Monday afternoon, they will need Samardzija to continue pitching at a high level, this time against a potent Royals lineup.
2.) The new-look bullpen must flex its muscles
The White Sox had one of the worst bullpens in 2014, a problem they addressed this offseason with the additions of closer David Robertson, lefty Zach Duke, as well as long-man Dan Jennings. If the White Sox are carrying a slim lead late in the game today, they will need their improved bullpen to show it is up to the task of shutting the door and sealing the W, something that White Sox fans did not see too much in 2014.
3.) Micah Johnson has to carry his Spring success into the season.
Micah Johnson quickly showed this Spring that he wanted the starting gig at second base. Johnson, a 24 year-old speedster, will hit ninth today, and hopefully can provide the White Sox with some stability and speed at the back of the lineup. Johnson slashed .339/.391/.475 this Spring, with five extra-base hits, 5 walks, and three stolen bases. In order for the White Sox to win Johnson has to prove he is capable of being the everyday second baseman and that he is capable of providing a good bat for the bottom of the lineup.