What if the pitching is the problem?

What if the pitching is the problem?
Persona non grata // Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune

The advantage that niche journalists, or bloggers, have over more broad-based sports columnists is large to the point of being unfair.  They walk in, give a fair assessment of the situation at face-value, write their column, and the angry blogger writes a rebuttal based on details that only someone who obsessively reads and writes about the team on a daily basis would bother to have called-up.

Every now and then, the general sports commentary guys also might have a sense of perspective lacking from a writer with tunnel vision.

Dan McNeil isn't a go-to source for White Sox analysis, but when someone offers an opinion that sounds truly foreign to me, it's worth examining.  In his column on why he couldn't fully buy into the Sox as a playoff favorite, he offered this.

Even if that 1-2 punch [Sale and Peavy] continues to excel and remain in one piece, the rest of the rotation has been dreadful.Philip Humber has spit the bit since his perfect Saturday in Seattle. In eight starts since, Humber has one win with a 7.38 ERA.

Gavin Floyd needs even more couch time with team psychologist Jeffrey Fishbein than Adam Dunn needed last season. John Danks, healthy or not, looks like a bad investment.

My ever-increasing loathing of Gavin Floyd being subjected to amateur psychoanalysis aside, if the White Sox biggest problem is needing two of the mainstays of one of the best rotations in baseball of the past few seasons to return to well-established career norms, things might be going even better than I thought.

We can't ignore results all season long, and the Sox have allowed nine runs in two separate games already this week.  And yet, one look at their results hardly screams that there is a problem.

Entering Saturday, the White Sox have a 3.99 team ERA, which is middle of the pack, 7th in the AL.  It's also easily the best in the division, without taking into account that the Sox play in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the AL Central, which has been playing like a softball stadium the past few weeks.

If this is just a discussion of starters, then the Sox ERA jumps up to 4.21, which is still best in the division.  It's not particularly fair to the Tigers' starters, who are superior to Chicago's by every objective metric, but have to play in front a defense that allows almost 5% more of their balls in play fall for hits.  That problem--and lower margin for error--isn't going away anytime soon, though.

Looking at Saturday's lineup offers a better look at what the challenges are going to be going forward.  The White Sox are starting strikeout-prone recent call-up in Jordan Danks because Dayan Viciedo's hamstrings are sore, and the still-too-raw Eduardo Escobar is starting at 3rd base because there absolutely isn't a better 3rd basemen in the organization at this point.

There's disastrous lack of production hiding behind every corner, waiting for the first minor ailment to pop up and reveal it.

Today Mark Primiano campaigned for the Sox to make a move for the struggling, injury-prone, aging, and unwanted Kevin Youkilis to upgrade the 3rd base position, roster-wide positional depth, and the lineup--which for all its recent bluster is still just league average.  And he was 100% on the money in his assessment.  That's a sign of where the real problems are.



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  • Exiting Sunday, Humber blew up again.

    Maybe the real answer is that on the day of the perfect game, Seattle was that bad.

    I don't think that the Sox went into the year thinking that the only two dependable starters would be Peavy and Sale. And a couple of weeks ago, they didn't even think that Sale should be a starter.

    So, whatever the numbers, Floyd and Humber have sure stunk lately.

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