This week saw the White Sox post a 2-4 record, while losing both series to division rivals Detroit and Cleveland. The poor showing slotted the White Sox as firmly into 3rd place as a team can be in a mediocre AL Central where no one has played 30 games yet; they're three games back.
On the plus side, the Sox still have the best run differential in the division. Unfortunately, the best run differential in the division is +1, and it's a tie with Cleveland.
That could be construed as a plus for those who think that the White Sox best chance at the playoffs is if the race turns into a lifeless slog to 85 wins. So, it's probably a plus.
The Cleveland series was marked with pretty poor pitching performances by John Danks and Philip Humber. Chris Sale was fine despite velocity issues, but he's in the bullpen now, and the Dylan Axelrod audition makes it look like it will be hard for the rotation to maintain the #1 spot in FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement without him. Gavin Floyd and Jake Peavy both continued their terrific starts to the season, but now Jake is skipping his next bullpen session for more rest.
Not an encouraging week for the strength of the team, and a 4.02 ERA in total.
The search for a closer is about to reach a definitive end, or a surreal new beginning, depending on the severity of Sale's elbow soreness. In the mean time, three different pitchers gave a shot at becoming the lame duck closer. Matt Thornton had two appearances, and gave up home runs in each, and Hector Santiago continues to lack an off-speed pitch or good location. The only win the Sox locked up in Detroit came when Addison Reed rescued Hector in the 9th on Saturday by striking out Austin Jackson with runners in scoring position.
Reed pitched 2/3 of an inning all week, despite Jesse Crain being hurt the entire time.
Adam Dunn went on a rampage, hitting four home runs this week alone, and five in his last seven games. Since he's still managed to strikeout in every single game this season, it's safer to say that he's on a hot streak than that the old Adam Dunn is back. Something very close to the old Adam Dunn is back, and that makes a pretty functional pairing with the still-dominant Paul Konerko.
That's good, but the foundation around them is crumbling. Alex Rios is 6 for his last 40 and hasn't had an extra-base hit since April 25th, and A.J. Pierzynski is gravitating back toward having a typical A.J. Pierzynski season, and farther away from a typical Johnny Bench season.
Gordon Beckham was the only one of the four black holes in the lineup (Morel, Ramirez, Viciedo being the others) to make some noise over this latest stretch. He had three multi-hit games in a week where he flashed surprising power (two HRs) and his old opposite-field swing at times, and three games where he was hitless and hopeless.
Alexei Ramirez's cold start is challenging the start of his rookie year for the worst stretch of his career, and Dayan Viciedo is hitting surprisingly decent for someone who can't take a walk and is a week removed from their last extra-base hit.
The next week is curiously scheduled, with a doubleheader on Monday, but also a off day on Thursday. The four game set in Clevleand will offer bad pitching matchups in Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin, but the Sox will also get a crack at back-end starters Zach McAllister and Jeanmar Gomez.
The weekend will bring in struggling Kansas City, who still managed to go 11-7 versus the White Sox last season despite otherwise being a moribund 90-loss team.
Filed under: White Sox Week
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, Adam Dunn, addison reed, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, Brent Morel, Chris Sale, Cleveland Indians, Dayan Viciedo, Detroit Tigers, dylan axelrod, Gavin Floyd, Gordon Beckham, hector santiago, Jake Peavy, jeanmar gomez, johnny bench, josh tomlin, Justin Masterson, Matt Thornton, Paul Konerko, Robin Ventura, White Sox, zach mcallister