White Sox scenarios to pull off miraculous finish, reach playoffs

Sox scenarios to pull off miraculous finish, reach playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Miguel Cairo has consistently preached taking things one day at a time since assuming the role as White Sox acting manager in Tony La Russa’s absence.

But it’s hard not to look ahead with time running out on the White Sox, whether you look at the AL Central or AL Wild Card race.

Tuesday’s loss to the Guardians was a gut punch for the Sox, who fell five games back of Cleveland — effectively six because the Guardians secured the tiebreaker over the Sox: head-to-head record.

Making up six games with 14 remaining is obviously a daunting task, and it’s reflected in the White Sox’ chances to win the division. According to FanGraphs, Guardians (96.8 percent) were overwhelming favorites as of first pitch Wednesday.

“We've just got to win [this] series,” Cairo said pregame Wednesday. “Today's a new day, tomorrow's a new day. We've got to concentrate on today.”

Things weren't looking good at least early Wednesday; the Sox fell behind 2-0 in the first inning.

The White Sox’ odds to win the division stood at 3.2 percent Wednesday. Their chances to claim a wild card spot were actually worse, per FanGraphs: 3 percent.

The math says the White Sox not only need some help, but to pull off one of the most incredible finishes in recent memory to reach October.

If you want to break down the math, here’s a few scenarios:

For White Sox to clinch AL Central

For the White Sox to pull off this difficult scenario, they would have to finish one win better than the Guardians due to the tiebreaker.

Records over final 14 games, if Cleveland finishes with 85 wins:

Guardians: 4-10 (85-77)
White Sox: 10-4 (86-76)

Records over final 14 games, if Cleveland finishes with 86 wins:

Guardians: 5-9 (86-76)
White Sox: 11-3 (87-75)

Records over final 14 games, if Cleveland finishes with 87 wins:

Guardians: 6-8 (87-75)
White Sox: 12-2 (88-74)

Records over final 14 games, if Cleveland finishes with 88 wins:

Guardians: 7-7 (88-74)
White Sox: 13-1 (89-73)

For White Sox to clinch wild card spot

The Mariners (81-66) entered Wednesday holding the American League’s final wild card spot and with a game in hand on the White Sox. The White Sox won the season series and hold the tiebreaker.

Let’s say Seattle, through 148 games, has an 82-66 record — one game better than the Guardians through 148 games. Because of the tiebreaker, the Sox would advance to the playoffs over Seattle in the event of a tie. A few scenarios:

Record over final 14 games, both finish with 86 wins

Mariners: 4-10 (86-76)
White Sox: 10-4 (86-76)

Record over final 14 games, both finish with 87 wins

Mariners: 5-9 (87-75)
White Sox: 11-3 (87-75)

Record over final 14 games, both finish with 88 wins

Mariners: 6-8 (88-74)
White Sox: 12-2 (88-74)

Record over final 14 games, both finish with 89 wins

Mariners: 7-7 (89-73)
White Sox: 13-1 (89-73)

In either scenario, the White Sox would need a tremendous finish to pass the Guardians or Mariners. None of this even considers what happens with the Orioles, who entered Wednesday above the White Sox in the wild card standings. Plus, the Mariners have a favorable schedule over the next two weeks.

As much as taking things one day at a time is all they can do, the White Sox are running out of days, and fast.

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