Fresh off a mildly encouraging series where the Sox took 2 out of 3 from the last place Royals, the Pale Hose welcome to town the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays, who seem all set to buzzsaw the Sox with their excellent pitching (and awkward team hugs). I am afraid.
At the very least, not all of the Blue Jays pitchers starting this weekend against the Sox are coming off excellent starts in their most recent efforts. In fact, only two of them are. Unfortunately, the two that aren't, are Dana Eveland and Ricky Romero. Eveland pitched 6 innings and only allowed 2 runs in his previous start against the Sox this season in some game where I got hopped up on kool-aid and sprouted off about the South Siders doing crazy things like hitting left-handed pitching and winning easily. I would say things like 'The Sox will figure this guy out', or 'Juan Pierre is on fire and will jump-start the offense', but I won't, because I don't believe them. On the flip side, the only consistent starter on the Sox staff, John Danks, will pitch Thursday to try to rebound from his worst start of the season. Danks labored through 5 innings against the Yankees on Saturday, but only gave up two runs and the Sox still won. Eveland hasn't gone 7 innings since his first start of the season, so at the very least the White Sox will have their shot against the Toronto bullpen...which has been pretty good.
Ricky Romero on the other hand, nearly no-hit the Sox the last time he faced them, and is paired against Gavin Floyd for the last game of the series. Gavin, presently in Candy Land, has one good start all season, and it came against the Ian Kinsler-less Rangers. Urgh. Maybe Romero will...um....do bad?
As for the middle two games, because I've paced this article like a Tarantino film, the Sox face the surprisingly successful Shaun Marcum and Brett Cecil. Marcum, a 28-year old on a one-year contract (someone you'd expect to pitch more like Brian Bannister*), has allowed only one run in each of his last two starts, and hitters are batting just .223 against him, which isn't a far cry from the Sox current team average of .229. 23 year-old rookie Brett Cecil was thrust into the rotation to replace the injured Brian Tallet, and has fluorished remarkably. The former 1st-round pick has gone 2-1 in 3 starts, with his only loss being a 2-0 defeat to Boston where he allowed only a single earned run.
Perchance, their familiarity with a Canadian climate will make the change to slightly warmer Chicago weather will be traumatic, resulting in Marcum and Cecil hanging pitch after pitch in the zone as the skin on their bones melts before their very eyes. Maybe, maybe not.
In those middle games the White Sox will send out Mark Buehrle and Jake Peavy. Peavy made his first start of the season that was worth anything close to his $15 million salary on Monday, where as Mark Buehrle has taken some throwaway comment made to him about his perfect game being the 'peak of his career' waaaay too literally. His opening day start now stands out as a blip in his continuing slide since that fateful July day when he shut down Tampa, rather than the return to form it was heralded as. Buehrle's style has always been too subtle for us to be able to look for tell-tale signs to see if he's right again. All of our other starters have obvious indicators of when things are going well; Danks is good whenever his hand isn't blue, Freddy is good when he keeps pitches down, Peavy's good sign is apparently when he starts cursing at himself, and Gavin is fine whenever it seems like he won't burst into tears. The quality of Toronto's pitching will necessitate that the Sox starters begin pitching like a unit that was supposed to be the backbone of the team, rather than simply be just another reason this team is 4 games under .500. Toronto doesn't hit for average but leads the league in HRs and doubles, which will benefit them greatly in a hitter's park like ours. Maybe we should keep Randy Williams inside this weekend.
*(Did the angry commenter embolden me to start insulting Brian Bannister at every turn? Not quite. Did Bannister's awful start Wednesday night push me over the edge to start now? You betcha!)