What if a pitcher’s elbow explodes during a game and no one notices, did it really happen? In the hubbub surrounding Derrick Rose and his return, or lack thereof, from injury, the Blackhawks on a great run while keeping us from young woman making ribald jokes and Tom Ricketts growing something resembling a spine, Gavin Floyd, pitcher for the White Sox, had season ending elbow surgery. Though Floyd was not the number one or two…or three starter for the White Sox, he definitely was a veteran presence in the White Sox rotation and reliable enough at that. When John Danks came back from his season ending injury of last year, the White Sox rotation looked to be one of the strongest, 1 through 5 in the American League. They may not have had a dominant pitcher like Verlander, but every starter when the team was at full strength was going to be a solid pitcher that most teams would love to have in their order. Sale, Peavy, Quintana, Floyd and Danks had such great potential, but we’ll never see it this year. Suffice it to say, things have not gone according to plan.
With Floyd out and Danks still not healthy the burden of the rotation is falling on Hector Santiago and Dylan Axelrod. So far it has been ok. The real test of the pitching will come as more and more inter-division games come up and players get to see a pitcher two or more times. If Danks can make it back by mid-June, the White Sox might not be completely sunk.
There are two other parts of the equation, however, and thus far the White Sox have been absolutely horrible thus far. I think everyone knew going in that the offense was going to be a weak brother to the pitching. I won’t go into all of the disturbing numbers about the batters Dan Bernstein does a good job here. Even so, it isn’t the most shocking development that the White Sox are going to struggle offensively. The more worrisome trend is the defense. The White Sox have already committed 22 errors, leading to a .981 Fielding percentage. Those may not be the best stats to measure defensive performance they do offer us some insight. They have turned the fifth fewest double plays thus far in the American League. According to Fangraphs, they are quite the middle of the pack, ranking 8th in UZR as a team. No matter how one looks at the defense, it has been mediocre at best, a liability at worst.
Taking into account history as I did in an earlier post the grand equation doesn’t come out looking too good for the White Sox this year. Considering that they are already five games back and the only team in the division below .500, and it isn’t even June, the White Sox would need to get white hot, and fairly soon, in order to make any kind of noise in the division. I’m working on a bit of lengthier post about which teams in the last thirty years have come back from rough Aprils and Mays, so there is still some hope to cling to, but not much. Maybe the strategy of “let’s see if this works like last year!” wasn’t the best idea. On the bright side, plenty of seats available come June.