Make sure it's strongly on the record that objective indicators for the Sox are still extremely bad. They have the worst run differential in the league, they dug themselves such a hole offensively that there's no point in looking at that figure for another month, and Samardzija is the only regular starter with an ERA under 5.00. They look more like a team that HAS to normalize than one that is in the process of doing so.
A week after serving up what should truly be the nadir of any team's season--a winless week capped off by a four-game sweep and thorough undressing at the hands of the Twins--the Sox raged again. They won back-to-back series against a pair of not-awful teams (Detroit and Cincinnati), thanks in no small part to a pair of walk-off wins. Walk-off wins feel like greater, cathartic triumphs than their typically one-run margins indicate, and combined with a sweeping adoption of a "Stir-it-up" celebration that is too ridiculous to be indicative of anything but full commitment, the Sox are looking and acting like a winner more than they are actually being one.
Jose Abreu is slumping. His home run at the end of Saturday's blowout loss to the Reds was just his second extra-base hit in 14 games, in which time he's slugged .333. This is not dissimilar to his second-half power outage, but if he's not going to hit over .400 while doing it, it's just kind of unremarkable sludge. Abreu has always tossed in garbage-looking plate appearances and amateur-ish foot movement even in the midst of stretches where he was burninating the countryside. The only real shift is that he's doing it more often, and that his slump means that the Sox no longer have a single hitter on the roster who's off to as good of a start as Marcus Semien; a somewhat upsetting development.
Somewhat accounting for Jose's plateauing, is Adam LaRoche trying to boost the Sox plate discipline numbers all by himself. LaRoche isn't hitting--as in nothing that involves him putting a bat on the ball is very remarkable--but sports a .500 OBP on the month because he's already taken 10 walks. With that alongside Avisail Garcia, who is both making tons of contact (4 K's in 38 trips to the plate in May), and actually smacked a home run to left field Saturday night to get his season ISO over .100 (we count the small victories here, buddy), the middle of the White Sox order is...functional (?) for the time being, which is nice since 1-2 is still mostly a tire fire.
Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale are starting Monday and Tuesday--jeepers that was fast!--against a moribund Brewers club, and the White Sox finish the week against the last-place Oakland A's: and previously mentioned MVP candidate Marcus Semien. Oakland's been a house of horrors for a variety of reasons, but the Sox ostensibly have another opportunity to get themselves back floating around .500 by mid-May, blinding terribleness aside.
With a revamped roster, the Sox were hoping to have a hot start while still leaving a few weapons holstered. They wanted Micah Johnson and Avisail Garcia to work through struggles, wait for their in-house supply to get healthy for any bullpen help, and they wanted to minimize Carlos Rodon's innings until they needed them. With Avisail and the bullpen rolling smoothly, but the team still 6.5 games back already, they're facing a judgment call on when they need to deploy Rodon. While John Danks pulled a QS from his frayed shoulder over the weekend, the next good thing Hector Noesi does in 2015 will be the first, and it will truly be a new order under Rick Hahn if the Sox get through the month without utilizing their biggest remaining counter-punch. This has become a question of making a team good enough to overtake others, and even if they're better than their start, the Sox need outside improvement to transcend it.