An update on all the White Sox anxieties
By James Fegan
The White Sox are two games up in the AL Central over a team they’re supposed to bre trailing by six or more, they just rallied from behind (twice!) to beat the Yankees, and Baseball Prospectus gives them an 82.5% chance of making the playoffs. It’s hard to overstate the good fortune that’s played into such a situation becoming reality.
But now is not the time of year for gratitude, but bug-eyed concern! We must be vigilant against the possible pitfalls standing in the way of the culmination of a dream season! Look there at the Angels, bleeding out on the side of the road–do you want to be them??! No? Then read all of these items:
What’s up with Gavin Floyd?
Floyd has reached the breaking point where he surely can’t be tolerated any longer, right?
It certainly feels that way, until a glance at his game log reveals he was essentially fine in his last two outings (8 K/0BB in his previous start!). Keeping track of his undulations this year has been impossible. His ERA has lowered recently (down a full run since mid-June) while his control has worsened (28 walks in his last 46.1 IP). A.J. Pierzynski claimed Floyd was over-excited during his 2.1 inning-long, four-walk, one hit batsmen implosion Monday, but Floyd–being who he is–flatly dismissed the notion.
Potential replacement Philip Humber has predictably improved drastically in an easier relief role (7.1 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 BB, 10 K), but the talent and tenure gulf between them is such that it would take quite a Floyd tumble to see him bounced from what is essentially the #5 starter slot, and Gavin hasn’t been doing anything consistently this year.
De Aza on the DL
The move took a while to be officially made, but Alejandro’s sore oblique/ribs/stomach place was likely to keep him out till the start of September regardless. DeWayne Wise is slugging .613 since joining the team, so he’s likely to continue filling in at the top of the lineup until that stops being a thing.
That’s an odd fit, since being small and speedy is covering up that Wise is pretty much 2010 Andruw Jones. He can fill in adequately across the outfield, takes big home run cuts, and doesn’t project to be particularly useful versus same-handed pitchers.
Given the parks DeWayne has played in this season, it’s hard to fault this approach, but he’s got a .290 OBP with the Sox even with his balls flying out of the yard.
Is Dunn righted?
Adam Dunn spent most of the last two months in a ~.700 OPS free-fall, which he finally arrested by hitting five home runs in the past eight games. That’s encouraging, but not a pace he–or any human–usually maintains. That he could post a career-high in home runs but still have one of the weakest seasons of his career speaks to how tremendously skewed toward the three true outcomes he’s been. He’s hit .276/.400/.828 over this span but had just a .200 BABIP–he simply does not collect base hits with his current approach.
But there’s some small encouragement in him going the other way with two of his bombs–including Monday night–providing hope that he can drive balls on the outer half with confidence, and create some viable contact in that direction rather than rolling it over into the shift. Anything to get on base via the hit just a bit more.
His similarly swooning playmate Paul Konerko has been on a one-hit-a-game diet since returning from a concussion, but all but one of them has been for extra-bases, so let’s say the wrist is healthy. That’s good, because Alex Rios is taking an extended break from being Superman
How do you feel about this bullpen?
Jesse Crain and Brett Myers have removed Nate Jones’ viability as a setup man from the daily debate agenda, but what of late-stage Matt Thornton and cardiac closer Addison Reed?
Thornton was more or less given the week off, appearing only once in the Toronto series and not again until Monday night. That’s more than prudent, given he already has 56 appearances on the year. Monday didn’t do much to dispell notions that he should become increasingly lefty-specialized. Thornton got three fly ball outs in the 8th inning, and right-handed Mark Teixeira got a long look at his slow breaking ball, and simply failed to crush it as much as he should have.
Meanwhile, Addison Reed is a month removed from his last 1-2-3 inning (!), but has a 1.42 ERA for August to lower his season total to a more endearing 3.74. Most importantly, he got two whiffs with his slider Monday night, including the game closer. Seeing as he managed to not lose his job while missing his primary off-speed pitch for months on end, I’m pretty sure he’s never going to be scored upon again now.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @ JRFegan. Also check out his full-time, daily blog, White Sox Observer