For a team off to a bad, but surely not quite Marlins-level stumble out of the gates, the White Sox surely have ugliness to spread out to every facet of the roster. A painful blown save punctuated the end of another middling week of play, bullpen carts should be brought back just to escort big name White Sox starters to the orthopedist and then there’s the errors, errors, errors every night.
All of which is amazingly irrelevant. The offense is so intensely awful that it renders every other topic to–just something to worry about. Even Sunday’s five-run “outburst” put the White Sox almost within 30 runs of an AL average offense. It’s the first week of May.
1. That “Add-a-run” Reed really blew the hell out of that game, Sunday
I almost wish Addison Reed was an issue, simply because “Add-a-run” is such a hilarious nickname to chide a closer with, but it takes a lot of effort to get upset with his performance, and even then, he’s still taken a necessary step forward from last season. Reed’s troubling work last year was consistently defended by the 88% save percentage that slid him in nicely as roughly average among other high-volume ninth inning guys. After feeding Billy Butler a cookie on Sunday, Reed’s down to 91% this season, with a 2.57 ERA.
An actual concern might be Reed having now walked eight of the 60 batters he’s faced on the season and his fastball is down a mile from last year. Troubling, but seemingly a worthy trade-off for him to incorporate his slider more and miss bats. Give me a more erratic Reed mixing sliders with a 93 mph fastball over a guy pumping 94 mph straight down broadway time after time.
And the bullpen at large? 3.52 ERA. 8th in the AL. Average. In a hitter’s friendly park.
2. This defense is terrible
Aesthetically, yeah, it’s pretty rough. The White Sox’ .980 fielding percentage is the worst in the American League. The level to which they’ve been burnt by it is less galling; the 11 unearned runs they have allowed is the sixth-most in the AL. Their 72% defensive efficiency–the rate of balls in play turned into outs–is downright good. They’re rated fourth in the league in both park-adjusted and non-adjusted efficiency. Pitching can obviously play a big part in the quality of contact, but the hard evidence that the defense is costing the Sox boatloads of runs isn’t really there. Man-oh-man is it there for the Astros, but not the Sox.
It could certainly be costing them lots of games, because their margin for error on any given night is razor thin due to a lack of runs. But again, that’s the offense.
3. Starting rotation carnage
Gavin Floyd has a date with the knife, Jake Peavy could be headed to disabled list with back problems no one really has pinned the down the cause or severity of and John Danks still needs to show he can miss bats in Double-A. These three were supposed to be the foundation of an elite pitching staff and their absence could still be problematic, but hasn’t really been a factor so far. The White Sox haven’t been awash in aces during the Don Cooper years, but they continue to be reliable in turning detritus into solid average starters even while they’re magic injury-avoidant pixie dust wears off.
Dylan Axelrod, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago have already eaten up 13 starts this year. Clearly, Robin Ventura doesn’t have the utmost trust for this trio–they’ve averaged under 5.2 innings per outing–but they have put up a 3.58 ERA combined when they have started. It’s unlikely that will hold with Axelrod’s puny strikeout rate and Santiago and Quintana simply having the bumps in the road that young, in-progress starters have. But these guys have gotten above-average results so far and the White Sox are still at the bottom of the division.
This team won’t survive this offense as is, but it’d be quite a search to find one that could.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan