Sometimes you have one big, clear and decisive point to make. Watching the games closely gives you a feeling, the stats and evidence back you up. You wrap it together into one clear thesis, and publish that baby for the world to see.
This isn't one of those times! So onto the notes...
The Chen is Mightier
After watching in person Bruce Chen battle through fairly awful control to still somehow record 6 shutout innings vs. the White Sox while allowing only one hit (shocking, right? No? No.), I had a little bit of fun playing with splits. Liberal usage of the words 'playing' and 'fun' there by me.
Bruce Chen's 2011: 93.1 IP, 4.15 ERA, 5.59 K/9, 3.28 BB/9, 1.15 HR/9. Opponents have hit .274/.343/.440 off of him. So a hitter facing Bruce Chen is a safely above-average hitter, also known as Someone the White Sox Would Commit Unspeakable Acts For.
Bruce Chen vs. The 2011 White Sox: 20 IP, 0.90 ERA, Sox hitters have a .141/.276/.188 line against him.
The less said about these results, the better. Seriously.
The White Sox own a .157 BABIP against Chen, and he's otherwise not profiled as a dominant pitcher: 5.40 K/9, 3.15 BB/9. That might make one a bit more calm, and reason that Bruce has just had a remarkably fortunate 20 innings versus the South Siders.
So let's ratchet that anger back up a bit.
Bruce Chen vs. Other Opponents: 73.1 IP, 5.03 ERA, 11.1 H/9, 1.35 HR/9. Opponents have hit .303/.360/.495 against him. I think Kenny Williams could be convinced to open fire on the White Sox crowd at this point in exchange for such a hitter.
Stewart keeps it going: I've been down on Zach Stewart, and my curmudgeonly dismissal of him has equated to this: If'he's going to get by without missing many bats, he's going to need to prove he can have success inducing weak contact over a long stretch of time. Right now he has Mark Buehrle contact rates, without Mark Buehrle's track record, and I'd just as soon not see how long he can live on the margins in mid-August.
However, he moved one start closer to building a reputation with another quality outing, yielding 2 runs in 6.1 IP, walking 2 and striking out 3. He had a few more whiffs Friday (7), and had first-pitch strikes on 20 of 28 batters. One could easily say he was a few well-timed singles away from giving up 5 or 6 runs, but besides some few notable exceptions, he wasn't getting pounded out there.
He's still probably not all that good, but his continued use wouldn't be offensive.
Ozzie Guillen won't announce Sergio Santos as the closer, which seems pretty silly, as Sergio Santos has been blatantly used as the closer since the end of April. Case in point: he has 25 saves.
Clearly, not having this title has meant little for Sergio. The only thing it can mean, is that Ozzie is freed up to use whoever he wants to close out games if the situation dictates, such as: when Sergio's tied, when Sergio's going through a stretch where he's walking everyone, if the matchups call for a lefty, or a particular reliever is just rolling.
That last clause mostly applies to Chris Sale, who of recent just tends to massacre everyone when brought into games. Ozzie is keeping himself open to keep Chris Sale in when it's apparent he's unhittable. Hooray for more Chris Sale.
Temporary Absences for Dunn and Pierzynski
Turns out that Dunn sitting against right-handed Luke Hochevar isn't some statement of Ozzie finally giving up on the big man for 2011, he's out till Tuesday for personal reasons. Until then, Guillen will continue to exhaust options previously thought unthinkable by starting Lillibridge at 1st, and now having Alejandro De Aza take groundballs. Dayan Viciedo is starting at 1st Saturday night for Charlotte, which is interesting, but his sub-.700 OPS since the All-Star break should ease the temptation until September.
Pierzynski took a pitch off the wrist Friday night, which surprisingly is mushrooming into some missed games after not slowing him much at the time. The X-rays are negative, so a DL stint seems unlikely now, but he's out for the entire weekend at least.
Good news: What an opportunity for Tyler Flowers!
Bad news: Tyler Flowers might not be any good!