John Danks: Low and Slow

I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I would put money on John Danks starting the season on the DL.

I’m OK with this.

John Danks is in the first year of the five year contract extension he signed in December of 2011.  For the White Sox, he’s more than a pitcher.  He’s a five-year investment.  He’s also coming off of shoulder surgery.  The team should not rush him back to the major league roster.  What is the White Sox pitching staff like without John Danks?

Exactly like the White Sox pitching staff that kept the team in first place through late September.   Sale, Peavy, Floyd, Quintana, Santiago/Axelrod should be enough to get the job done (barring injury, of course).

When it comes to rushing pitchers after major surgery, the White Sox learned a valuable lesson in 2011.  Peavy’s lat separated from the bone in July of 2010.  The muscle was reattached, and Peavy found himself in the same position as Danks; trying to return just months after the operation.

Peavy started the 2011 campaign on the DL.  He finally made his 2011 debut on May 11 with a 6-4 win over Anaheim.  His first outing ran for six innings and 87 pitches.  His second outing was a 111 pitch complete game shutout of the Cleveland Indians.   Post-recovery Peavy pitched a series of short outings after that.

On June 25, he bulldogged himself out of the season.  Peavy entered the game in long relief after Danks strained an oblique in the third inning of the game against the Washington Nationals.  Peavy threw four innings and 55 pitches to secure the win.  But, he was pitching on three days rest.  The relief outing messed him up for the rest of the year, and he was finally shut down on September 6th.

Another lost year.  Peavy finally recovered in 2012, and he admitted that he was rushed back from surgery.

What can we expect when Danks comes back?  Colin at South Side Sox delivers a mixed verdict.  He took a look at other left-handed pitchers who underwent similar shoulder procedures:

What is clear is that all of the pitchers have struggled to return to pitching consistently, and that the condition seems to cause a substantial dip in both velocity and command. Clearly, the shoulder capsule is a tricky thing. The low profile of the injury and the lack of industry consensus on treatment suggests, even if the anatomy is understood, that the precise condition parameters that enable shoulder capsule function are known with certainty by few, if any.

I used to believe that a healthy Danks pitching for the White Sox in June or July would be the equivalent of a deadline deal.  I’m not so sure what to expect.   Maybe Danks should pull a Derrick Rose and assume that 2013 is a lost season.

The Sox have several factors working in their favor:  schedule, pitching depth, and the fact that an innings eater would be easily available via trade.

Here’s where you fantasize about the underachieving Blue Jays trading Mark Buehrle back to the White Sox….

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