They’re using this guy and apparently it’s going well. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
I shun the crosstown series, and hiss angrily at its arrival.
But that’s not so much about the Cubs and a late-evening start time on a holiday that will provoke complaints about fights and classist insults directed toward a region of the city consistently and intentionally deprived of economic development, and more about a general concern about the White Sox getting national attention of any kind at their current state.
Even though they have climbed all the way back to .500, to me the White Sox remain a patient who’s been prescribed bedrest that keeps getting up, completing tasks around the house and giving public appearances. They’re not ready for the world yet. The public shouldn’t be allowed to see what Paul Konerko’s batting line is right now. Will a national audience understand that Dayan Viciedo doesn’t always swing crazily like this? Wait until they’re ready, for goodness sake.
The Cubs having positioned themselves as the prudent, rebuilding team in contrast to the Sox’ brand of win-now hedonism also puts more pressure on the Sox on-field product to not look, you know, assed-out.
Hector Santiago to the bullpen
That’s quite the addition to the bullpen! A lefty with a big fastball and a change that allows him to compete against right-handers–or even flash an absurd reverse-platoon split so far this year.
I have to imagine that Santiago being the more useful bullpen piece was the deciding factor in his getting booted from the rotation in favor of Dylan Axelrod. That or some concern about four lefties in the rotation, though that can argued against by citing that Danks (at least in his good days) and Quintana are both guys who make their living pitching inside on righties and Sale is far too good for handedness to be relevant.
It certainly can’t because Dylan Axelrod has objectively outpitched Santiago, or even represents a better option going forward. Axelrod’s one strikeout over 5.1 innings on Sunday brought his K-rate down to 4.53 per nine innings, or 11.8% of the hitters he faces–fifth-worst of all qualified starters in major league baseball(and one of the guys behind him recently was demoted). His avoidance of his newly-ineffective slider is marked, and forcing him to rely on weaker tools like his mid-80’s fastball and his changeup.
He probably should have gotten hit harder by The Marlins yesterday. That is troubling.
Tyler Flowers comes back Monday
As a member of the ‘Tyler Flowers Defenders Club’ (got my card at the retreat two weekends ago) I can speak for us all and tell you all that no, this (.202/.269/.345) is not what we had in mind. Flowers is doing what Adam Dunn was doing earlier in the season–going away from everything he does well in exchange for a small and functionally irrelevant dip in his strikeout rate.
He’s swinging more, he’s swinging at pitches outside of the zone more, he’s walking less and a .143 ISO indicates he’s failing miserably to tap into the raw power he has.
Adjustments are needed, but the White Sox rather intentionally cleared the path for him from all competition. Hector Gimenez could probably tread water a bit better than Flowers is doing right now, but he’s got every bit the wild-swinging strikeout love of Flowers without the exciting physical tools. Josh Phegley’s progress is obviously exciting, but it’s also two big months in a minor league career lacking other bright periods. Also his pitch-blocking is apparently still pretty bad.
None of these choices would be anything I would rail against if the Sox tried it, but they’re flawed enough that I can understand the White Sox staying the course they began the season with.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan