Aaron Laffey starts for the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field Friday night, as a result of a rash of injuries to Toronto’s once promising starting rotation.
The familiarity–and contempt–White Sox fans might have with Laffey stems from him spending 2007-10 skulking around the Cleveland Indians bullpen and making spot starts.
He’s the soft-tossing lefty with a changeup from Greg Walker’s darkest nightmares, and while his career has been limited by his struggles to record more strikeouts than walks (just a 1.27 K/BB ratio for his career), he has a 3.02 ERA in 44.2 career innings against the Sox because they can simply never square him up (.286 SLG).
Nothing’s changed about Laffey, he’s still just 27 years old, spent most of this year in AAA and has not suddenly figured out how to strike people out, so it will rest upon the Sox hitters to prove that something’s changed since April 24th, when they were eviscerated by a better but similarly-styled Tommy Milone.
They did not Take Jake
Jake Peavy finished 2nd to Yu Darvish in the final vote, after a spirited campaign that at its best moment featured Gordon Beckham aping Peavy’s mannerisms and press conference cliches.
In addition to stirring up some Twitter excitement, the ferocity of the team’s promotional efforts even inspired some to take a break from posting photos of cheerleaders to express outrage that the marketing department of a professional baseball team would launch a campaign to get national exposure for one of their players.
So there were positives all around.
Planning it as they go along
Anyone claiming that Chris Sale is being rested specifically so that he can pitch in the All-Star Game needs to do more background reading, but Don Cooper might be overselling it to say the extra rest has been planned since Spring Training.
As Matt Adams pointed out on Twitter at the time, that seems to gloss over the period where Sale was in the bullpen as being just part of the plan. The rest was certainly premeditated, but if there was a plan from Spring Training, they have gone off the script a few times.
The current plan for the unoccupied Sunday start?: Dylan Axelrod on short rest. I was more excited for a bullpen game.
Baseball Prospectus’ weekly acknowledgments of the Sox existence
Paul Sporer, BPro’s fantasy expert, gave this optimistic look on Jose Quintana:
Quintana got his first reality check in his start just before the one against the Rangers in which he went into Yankee Stadium and was batted around for six earned in six innings (hilariously, he still got the win). He will probably have a few more of those this year, but he is a left-handed strike-throwing machine with an impressive 3.7 K/BB that shouldn’t be ignored. He is also keeping the ball on the ground, which no doubt helps in a homer haven like U.S. Cellular in Chicago.
In assessing the mid-season trade market for the White Sox, Jason Wojciechowski hits all the main points: The big rotation upgrade will likely come from a healthy John Danks, the Youkilis deal plugged the biggest hole, and there’s been less than great offense from 2nd base and left field.
However, I’d have to express doubt on the Sox actively looking to bail on Beckham or Viciedo. A really big opportunity for an upgrade would have to emerge.
Speaking of trades, both the Indians and Tigers are out looking for pitching. As impressive as the Sox were in sweeping the best team in baseball, the advantage they have built over their division rival is best described as ‘minuscule’.
Tags: aaron laffey, AL Central, All-Star Game, baseball, Chris Sale, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, dylan axelrod, Gordon Beckham, greg walker, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Jose Quintana, kevin youkilis, tommy milone, toronto blue jays, U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox, yu darvish