A casual glance at the standings gives the impression that something like a crucial August series is taking place this weekend. The Angels--still a heavy favorite to end their season in October with a wild card berth safely in tow--head into town fresh off a split with the Rangers where their bullpen allowed 11 runs in 7.1 IP and dragged them down into a four-game split.
Now they come into Chicago ticked off and ready to...empty out the back end of their rotation. Oh sure, Zack Greinke pitches Friday night to jam a lit cigarette into Kenny Williams' still-healing wound, but after that it's the disastrously homer-prone Ervin Santana, and the typically great Dan Haren, who has struggled to a 4.59 ERA while battling various injuries.
The Sox won't be upping the ante, offering sixth-man Philip Humber, mercurial Gavin Floyd, and Francisco Liriano pitching in the place of Jose Quintana, who has been pushed back in name of preservation. It's hard to pin down the expected performances of Liriano or Quintana, but at least for Liriano, it's not for lack of ability.
It won't be Danks helping out, as he's set to go under the knife on Monday. Jordan's older brother is still talking hopefully about living up to the rest of his contract, while admitting his morale has been "down pretty low" recently.
Exploratory surgery is a funny business; the hope is that nothing serious is found, but it might be worse if this procedure doesn't uncover the issue at all.
Jim Margalus established the proper amount of concern that should center around this procedure, and an SSS-link to Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe's spreadsheet of pitcher recoveries from shoulder issues reveals a lot of cases of guys coming back and having successful careers, and plenty of cases where they never came back at all.
The White Sox have walked just twice in their last four games. A lot of that can be attributed to having recently finished a series against an organization that prioritizes walk-prevention over breathing, but since the Sox are prone to stretches of impatience, it can trigger extra concern. Naturally, the Greek God of Walks is suffering during this lean period; Kevin Youkilis has a .544 OPS in his last 54 plate appearances.
But Manto isn't overreacting to the blip. He saw no cause for concern with the basic approach of the lineup, and emphasized that he preaches hitters to stick to their strengths. If he really had something against walks, he'd probably have pushed Adam Dunn down a flight of stairs by now.
Of course, why he ever made that statement about walks setting up double plays is still a mystery.
Addison Reed has developed an unsavory reputation for being a closer with a flair for a dramatic, and his 4.03 ERA with a matching 4.11 xFIP suggest he's not a guy to feel comfortable with protecting a one-run lead with the game in the balance.
In a hilariously NSFW Tribune video due to the music in the background, Reed brushed it off his struggles as part of his love for "making things interesting", but also mentioned getting a better feel for his 'cutter' (it's also been referred to as a slider). Whatever the name, Reed actually got a swinging strike with his breaking pitch on Wednesday, which is what he's been missing while his peripherals and reputation have gone in the tank for the last month.
Poor defense and a bad strike zone might have covered up some actual progress being made by the rookie.
Tags: Adam Dunn, addison reed, baseball, Dan Haren, ervin santana, Gavin Floyd, jeff manto, John Danks, Jose Quintana, Kenny Williams, kevin youkilis, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, philip humber, Robin Ventura, White Sox, zack greinke