The pregame lineups announcement for another Tuesday loss in Cleveland had a little bit of intrigue.
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) September 24, 2013
These sorts of ominous updates bubble out every now and then, but are usually quickly resolved. Instead, the faux-hysteria of Keppinger going missing was allowed to marinate for an hour of, well, mostly jokes about him quitting, and if you forgot that the White Sox were in Cleveland for a moment, the missing name plate part really caused the mind to reel.
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) September 24, 2013
Reportedly, Keppinger’s shoulder has been bothering his throwing all season long, stemming from his broken leg keeping him from his offseason throwing program. An awful season was apparently compromised from the very start. And yet…
“It was off and on,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It wasn’t continuous where he couldn’t use it. It kept bothering him over the course of the year. Hitting-wise he was fine, but any time you put him out there in the field for an extended period of time it would start to creep up on him.”
No one will take the “I tried to tough it out through the pain but I just didn’t feel right at the plate” bait when it’s just sitting there. Sure, Keppinger would have to explain his boffo Spring Training numbers, but since when did athletes become obsessed with telling the press the truth?
This wraps up an awful season for Keppinger that probably cost him any real shot at being considered as being an Opening Day or full-time starter next year. Other than that, having a career-worst season during the first year of a three-year deal is about as good of a time to ever have it. The White Sox have to figure out some way to implement Keppinger next season, and while the final product was really awful, those that defend him by excluding his awful start have some semblance point. He’s hit .312/.356/.452 since Aug. 1 over 107 plate appearances.
Purcey’s hurt too
Left-handed reliever David Purcey is also done for the year with a strained ulnar collateral ligament, which is really not a great place to be injured as a pitcher. He’s getting a second opinion and will avoid surgery, but it’s a little troubling, even if there’s no threat of it causing him to miss Spring Training time.
Purcey seems to be regarded as having a nice shot at a roster spot next season thanks to a 2.13 ERA, but it’s hard to find another reason why he should. His walk rate (17 in 25.1 innings) is enormous and while he’s currently riding a streak of five-straight appearances without a free pass, he’s been touched up for a .516 slugging percentage during that time and he’s plunked a guy. He’s not infallible if the walks are removed, and he’s not much of a LOOGY either.
Lefties are hitting .205/.315/.364 against Purcey, which isn’t good, but is actually above-average compared to how lefty-on-lefty matchups usually go for the hitter. It’s not the kind of dominance worth specifically designating a roster spot to.
Let’s just throw this in too: he’s allowed five of his 12 inherited runners to score. That’s also below-average performance, and since crediting runs allowed to short relievers is a murky business, it deserves as much consideration as his pretty ERA. Some guys are on their fifth organization in four years for a reason.
The Addison Reed situation is getting ridiculous
On cue after I wrote about Reed’s velocity drop-off in response to his insane August workload, he gets shoved out for a save opportunity for the second night in a row, and is even more of a mess. Reed actually snuck a 92 mph fastball in there according to Brooks Baseball Pitch F/X, but was basically working 90-91 mph heat (after averaging as much as four miles faster earlier in the year) and boy did he ever know it.
Seeing as Reed was a bad hop on the lip of the infield away from a 1-2-3 inning, the performance bordered on brilliance. Nibbling around the zone like a starved rat, Reed actually packed in five swings-and-misses and two strikeouts into a single inning, compensated for his compromised velocity by working upstairs frequently and with success, and had it all fly off the rails when he didn’t get a slider far enough in on Jason Giambi. It was poor execution of a strategy he might not bother with (I mean, throwing multiple sliders as a lefty seems a bit like someone grasping for straws) if there was big velocity to turn to.
Reed’s exhaustion is about as transparent as it gets at the moment, and since his obvious fatigue can’t seem to generate any change in his usage, maybe the threat of poor short-term results–since the coaching staff would rather have Reed pitch six games in a row than risk that in August–will earn him rest until the weekend, if not the rest of the year. Hard to say for sure, there’s still a lot of shiny, round numbers (40 saves for Reed, 100 losses) to be distracted by.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan