Last year, there was a clear narrative to every White Sox week. They were a good pitching team, constantly being betrayed by a every other element of the roster.
This season is more muddled. The offense is firmly in the top 3 in the AL, the pitching staff for all it's troubles is above-average, and the defense's biggest holes (Hudson and Viciedo) are perfectly reasonable majore league fielders.
Since it's June, I find the lack of a glaring bullet-wound in the White Sox roster a comfort when they do something like drop four straight series, or lose three one-run games over the course of a week to two potential playoff teams in St. Louis and Los Angeles reassuring. Ultimately the formula is fine, and the small mistakes will give in to the talent they've very much showed all year.
OR...one could rightly assert that almost every division-winning season requires a bit of luck, and losing games by blowing a four-run lead with Chris Sale on the mound, stranding Alex Rios after a leadoff triple, or Jordan Danks being unable to control his joie de vivre will be horrible memories when Detroit is making their late-season run.
The offense managed a measly .232/.271/.374 line for the week, which makes sense considering they were the footnote to the best starts of Lance Lynn and Chris Capuano's careers. Lynn's been a force to be reckoned with all season long, whereas Capuano feasted on a Sunday lineup run amok. Ventura's decision to rest Pierzynski, Konerko, and De Aza all on the same day was quite the handicap to lay on the shoulders of starter Jose Quintana.
Alex Rios' bat loomed large in the Friday and Saturday games in Los Angeles--he had five hits, four went for extra-bases and two left the premises entirely. At .295/.336/.484 on the year, he's settled into a nice medium as a perfectly playable right fielder. He's tied for the AL lead with five triples.
Adam Dunn homered three times over the week to move into the AL lead in all three true outcomes; homers (23), walks (53), and strikeouts (104). Adam could very well shatter the all-time record for strikeouts in a season, with an OPS well north of .900.
Gordon Beckham hit 5 for 23 with three walks and no extra-base hits. His climb continues to be decidedly non-meteoric,
Jose Quintana was the only pitcher to make two starts on the week and responded with 13.1 innings of walkless, one-run ball. Fifteen hits stand out as a problem, but when the rest of the rotation had a 6.04 ERA for the week, he's seeming less and less like the place to pick nits.
The mysterious, lingering quality of John Danks's shoulder soreness means the rotation will stay as is, which is good news for Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber, who did nothing to rebuke their critics over the week, and will have more opportunities to restore natural order.
Chris Sale had his control abandon him on Friday night for his first sub-par outing in a month, and his the first start of his career where he yielded more than three runs. He'll be pushed back in the rotation till Friday for the sake of rest, which should become a more familiar practice in the second half, underscoring how vital productivity from John Danks and Gavin Floyd are to this staff's success.
Since the bullpen figured prominently in both Sox wins of the week--each time picking up a starter who did not make it through six innings and pitching shutout ball from there on out--it's only fitting that the week ended with Addison Reed blowing his first save of the year, and Matt Thornton allowing a run in the next inning to blow the best start of Jose Quintana's life. No group was able to escape this week with their reputation fully intact.
Nate Jones continues to be Robin Ventura's go-to guy, and only widened his team lead in relief innings by pitching 3.2 perfect frames over the two series.
Managing & Looking ahead
Second-guessing Ventura for using his closer over a raw rookie starter going through the lineup for a fourth time, on the road, in a one-run ballgame in the 9th seems to be all the rage, but a glance at Sunday and Monday beg the question of whether he's giving too much away in the name of rest.
Sunday lumped together off-days for Konerko, Pierzynski, De Aza, Ramirez, and Hudson. The latter two aren't much for hitting, but neither is anyone the Sox bring off the bench. The result was a feeble effort against Chris Capuano, prompting the nailbiter of a contest.
Monday brings the Cubs, and the decreased degree of difficultly of a team not trying to win at the major league level, but the Sox will again create their own matchup disparity by starting Zach Stewart against Matt Garza. Going with Stewart on Monday is the only way to give both Peavy and Sale a break in one swoop, but that may be cold comfort when unsavory pitching matters in two of three games (Floyd vs. Dempster on Wednesday) puts the series in jeopardy.
Filed under: Instant Rationalization
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, Adam Dunn, addison reed, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, Carlos Quentin, Chicago Cubs, chris capuano, Chris Sale, Dayan Viciedo, Detroit Tigers, Gavin Floyd, Gordon Beckham, John Danks, Jordan Danks, Jose Quintana, lance lynn, los angeles dodgers, matt garza, orlando hudson, Paul Konerko, philip humber, Robin Ventura, st. louis cardinals, White Sox, zach stewart