(670 The Score) As the White Sox are on the verge of clinching their first playoff berth since 2008, they’re doing so with only a few veterans of the playoffs on their roster.
One of those is catcher Yasmani Grandal, whom the White Sox signed to the richest contract in franchise history last November not just for his bat and pitch-framing skills but also his playoff experience. As the White Sox entered play against the Twins on Thursday afternoon, their magic number to clinch a berth in the expanded 16-team postseason sat at one.
“The guys are doing a great job of handling things,” Grandal said of his teammates. “They are not looking past anyone. They are coming in each day trying to get the job done. Hopefully, we can keep that going and move on to the playoffs.”
Grandal, left-hander Gio Gonzalez and left-hander Ross Detwiler are the key White Sox contributors who have appeared in a playoff game. Grandal has been in the postseason in each of the past five seasons and played for the Dodgers in the World Series in 2017 and 2018.
So does he think the White Sox are ready for primetime? Well, he likes what he sees but also knows it’s a process and learning experience.
“It’s good to learn we can beat a good team like Minnesota and Cleveland,” Grandal said. “It's important they know they (young players) can compete with those guys. They are just starting to get a taste of what it's like to beat those guys and stay in games with them. You see them learning not to press or do any more than what they are doing.
“The playoffs are completely different from the games we are playing right now. I don't think for us this is a playoff mentality right now. I think the stakes in the playoffs are higher. The intensity gets way up there. For now, the group seems relaxed. They are confident in what they are doing, and that's positive you want to see on a daily basis.”
Grandal was also asked if the White Sox – who lead the American League at 32-17 – should be considered a serious World Series contender despite their youth. He was somewhat philosophical in his response.
"Any team is capable of winning it all,” Grandal said. "It's not who is hot during the season. It's all about who gets hot in the postseason. We have seen cases like the Marlins who came in twice as a wild-card team and won it all. We saw the Nationals last year get hot at the right time. If you get hot in the postseason, you will make a run at going all the at through it.”
Grandal believes the White Sox’s youth is a double-edged sword. While they’ll be inexperienced in a playoff setting, Grandal also thinks they could be unpredictable.
"Not knowing what a young player will do can be pretty nerve-racking for an opponent,” he said. “A team like this can run, bunt, and hit the long ball – a team that is never really out of a game. That can be nerve-racking for the other teams.
“The key is don't try to get ready or amp up for it. Take it one step at a time. If it ends up happening, great. We also know we can come back next year and do it all over again. If it doesn't happen, we will have the experience under our built and come back and do it all over again.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.