Well, its no secret that our Sox have been slumping since their incredible winning streak came to an end. Since their winning streak, which covered about the last half of May and spilled into very early June, the Sox have been struggling to hold leads and close ball games late. The inconsistencies we saw early in the year have returned, bringing with them the same question marks. These questions are undoubtedly on the mind of GM Kenny Williams as the weather and pennant race both begin to heat up.
My primary issue with this team right now is the state of the pitching staff, but more specifically the bullpen. We saw the Sox give two games away to the Dodgers this past weekend in L.A. Giving leads away late in games is something that cannot happen if you expect to consistently compete for a division, especially one as evenly matched as the AL Central has traditionally been and continues to be this season. With key guys like Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain really struggling to shut things down and Will Ohman…. well, being Will Ohman, we’ve seen late inning leads disappear. A lead is always precious, but with the offensive production seemingly shutting down over the last 3-4 series, those leads become that much more fragile. I think Kenny desperately needs to assess the issues with the bullpen. With Will Ohman drawing parallels to Scott Linebrink, I think its time to release him. He’s nothing but a liability running out to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son.” You know who “ain’t no fortunate one” when Will comes in to pitch? The White Sox winning percentage.
As for Matt Thornton, I think he could potentially be packaged with someone and traded for some bullpen help, same with Crain. All I know is, something needs to be done with this bullpen relatively soon. With Cleveland biting at our heels and Detroit gaining momentum we have to salvage every lead we get.
Sticking with the theme of pitching, lets talk starting rotation. There have been a lot of new developments as of late with our starting 5. Between Gavin Floyd and Phillip Humber’s struggles, John Danks’ DL stint, and Jose Quintana dominating, Kenny has some big decisions to make. Personally, when Danks comes back, I would move Gavin “The Liability” Floyd to the bullpen, keeping Quintana in the starting rotation (he’s more than earned it) and giving Danks his spot back. I think that out of all the struggles this staff has endured this year, Gavin Floyds performance every 5th game has been the most damaging and notable. Floyd has been throwing a lot of pitches, leaving games in the early innings (which has been destroying an already fragile bullpen), and blowing leads left and right. Move him to the pen, let him throw in long relief if needed and release Ohman. That would be my first move, but again, that’s just me.
Finally, I would like to address our offense. There really isn’t much Kenny can do. We have the firepower to be successful, it just comes down to the fact that our lineup is streaky. Really, the only move that would make sense at this point would be to trade for or sign a third basemen, which really shouldn’t be top 3 on Kenny’s priority list. The offense is going to score enough runs to win more often than not this season, its up to our pitching to take the runs they get (many or few) and shut the other team down.
Bottom line here is:
There are issues that need to be addressed if this team is going to take this division. The Tigers are not going to roll over and Cleveland is playing pretty well so far. If Kenny can make a few adjustments that result in our bullpen gaining stability and our starting rotation increasing its efficiency, our team has a chance to be AL Central champs. I’m also wondering if Kenny can do something to make the Sox play better at home…. what’s that about? That’s a key all in itself, winning at home. We play there 81 times, you need to be successful at the Cell. I’m really not sure why we have a hard time winning in a ballpark that is built to our strength…
We have Peavy on the mound today, he needs to play stopper and bulldog the Cubs AA caliber offense. This could shape up to be a big homestand for our club in the grand scheme of things Sox fans.