February 19, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Axelrod (33) poses for a picture during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

For the sweep and a .500 record


You’ve come a long way, baby.

After plummeting to the depths of 14-20–six games under .500–on May 11, the White Sox have gone 9-4 to bring themselves within a single victory against the Marlins away from leaving the ranks of the ‘losing teams,’ with plenty of their triple-ply Charmin soft stretch of schedule left ahead of them.

They’re about 10 more wins in a row from convincing Nick Schaefer and I to believe in them again, their run differential is still -13 and they needed walk-offs to beat this destitute Marlins team at home the past two nights, but a .500 team can discuss its playoff chances without sounding like an imprisoned supervillain babbling to himself in his maximum security prison cell.

It’s an important step.

White Sox lineup

1. Alejandro De Aza – CF
2. Alexei Ramirez – SS
3. Alex Rios – RF
4. Adam Dunn – DH
5. Paul Konerko – 1B
6. Dayan Viciedo – LF
7. Conor Gillaspie – 3B
8. Jeff Keppinger – 2B
9. Hector Gimenez – C

Dylan Axelrod, SP

It won’t be easy. Dylan Axelrod is still riding the luck dragon over the crests of the clouds. With only 28 strikeouts in 52.1 innings and a very low 40.7% groundball rate, the components of his work suggests his 4.12 ERA should be around a run worse, especially since he’s pitching in U.S. Cellular Field. Hush up with all that ‘unsustainable talk,’ because… 

…The White Sox have committed to seeing just how long he can keep it going. If there is one thing I enjoy about having a marginal starter in the game, it’s the brutal pragmatism and discipline it forces upon the manager with his decision on when to go to the bullpen. If Axelrod so much as sniffs trouble after the fifth inning, he’s probably gone. Of course, maybe riding with Peavy all nine on Saturday was Ventura’s way of prepping for an Axelrod outing.

Hector Gimenez is starting his third-straight game due to Tyler Flowers’ back spasms. Every time Tyler Flowers misses a game due to some nagging issue that seems like a by-product of an enormous man crouching for three hours, I wonder why it does not happen more. Then again, how does anyone play catcher full-time?

“Anything’s better than Flowers!” many will say. With Hector Gimenez, I can only counter, “Well, we will certainly test that principle.”

Marlins lineup

1. Juan Pierre – LF
2. Adeiny Hechavarria – SS
3. Derek Dietrich– 2B
4. Marcell Ozuna– RF
5. Chris Coghlan – CF
6. Justin Ruggiano – DH
7. Greg Dobbs – 1B
8. Nick Green – 3B
9. Rob Brantly – C

Alex Sanabia, SP

Luckily, while Dylan’s peripherals are bad, he no longer holds the title of ‘worst xFIP of any qualified MLB starter’ thanks to this guy (and also Lucas Harrell). Like Axelrod, Sanabia has stood his ground and gotten not-disastrous results, but his stats seem to point to even greater doom ahead.

His 28 strikeouts in 51.1 innings are barely outpacing his 24 walks, he can’t keep the ball in the park despite playing in massive Marlins Park and just in case it was something he was depending on, he probably won’t be able to get away with blatantly spitting on a baseball today either.

Where to Watch: WGN

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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Tags: Alex Sanabia Chicago White Sox Dylan Axelrod