Hey, the Blackhawks just won a championship with a pair of super-high first round draft picks that they graduated through their system and signed to long-term extensions. Intriguing! Ok, that’s all for that!
I was really interested in diving into the how and why John Danks has been giving up his droves of home runs*, but since Chris Sale is starting on Tuesday night that seemed to be the wrong, sour note to hit about White Sox pitching.
There’s another sour note to hit about White Sox pitching that’s more situation-appropriate. After a perfect May, the White Sox haven’t won a Chris Sale start in the month of June, which can mainly be attributed to the offense providing eight runs of support over four games. Unfortunately, that hasn’t represented that much of a dip from the season norm.
Somehow, the White Sox are 7-6 when Chris Sale starts overall despite offering him an AL-worst 2.77 runs per game of support. Between Sale’s 2.69 ERA and the bullpen’s 3.68 mark, the Sox have beat the odds in just staying over .500. Not adjusting for offensive era and environment, but the last time a qualified starting pitcher went the entire season getting less than three runs per game was Ryan Rowland-Smith in 2011 (albeit in only slightly more than 100 innings). Adjusting for it, Sale’s run support is currently 63% of the league average, Luke Hochevar cleared that mark by getting less than the 60% of the league average rate in 2008, but amusingly enough, John Danks was also among the leaders for only at 64% in 2007.
Sale only brings up run support when he’s brutally self-flagellating in response to the rare occasions where he’s squandered ample of supplies of it, but with the grumbling the more vocal Jake Peavy did last season in a similar situation, it’s hard to imagine that Sale’s not bothered by it, if for no other reasons than pitchers tend to put it on themselves to win games, even if they’re fully capable of having discussions about their performance independent of it.
All of which makes it a good time for Sale to be signed until the end of days.
What’s funny is that among qualified starters–other than the fact that he is one of the White Sox three qualified starters–Dylan Axelrod leads the pack with 4.67 runs of support, tying him for 19th in the AL. For as bad as he’s been lately, Axelrod not being put in a position where he’s constantly putting his team behind does a great deal to color perceptions about how tolerable his performance has been.
*rough theory: lots more changeups are needed because of lesser fastball, more changeups means greater total number of bad, high changeup. Worse fastball allows for hitters to wait more on a changeup. Vicious cycle
Offensive surge-ish like behavior
If it counts as hope for Sale and others, the White Sox offense has not been the worst in the league thus far this month. With a huge bump to push the OBP over .300, the final line is .254/.304/.385, good enough for an 82 wRC+, which is only slightly behind the 10th-place Royals.
The answer, or half-answer, is a functional middle of the order. Adam Dunn has hit eight home runs and compiled a .276/.391/.618 line in the month, and while it’s not much, at least one part of Paul Konerko’s triple slash of .278/.350/.403 looks nice. Dunn is far more likely to be around next season, so if only one can go nuclear, he’s the selection. But they’re both in situations where the short-term window they were brought in for has closed and they haven’t accomplished much to prove they will be useful for when the next one opens. However, the next step away from either is hardly defined.
It’s a roster-wide issue.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan