A White Sox team that needed luck has been dealt misfortune
By James Fegan
The White Sox spent the early part of this season struggling to break even despite receiving fantastic starting pitching. So naturally, the first stretch of inconsistent performance from that group–and they’re still fourth in the AL in fWAR–resulted in the Sox losing all their games, for a stretch that only ended when Dylan Axelrod and otherworldly bullpen work managed to give their offense 13 shutout innings of coverage before they could get something going.
In ending their losing streak, the White Sox showed no indication at having resolved any of their issues. Unless you count Nate Jones, who has looked awesome over his last two appearances. Way to go, Nate.
The massive eight-game losing streak that anyone might reasonably assert has eliminated any still-lingering notion that the White Sox could compete for a playoff spot actually only cost them two games in the AL Central standings, but scoreboard watching has never been the point with this group. The Detroit Tigers are not as big of an issue as another week going by without the White Sox establishing another credible offensive threat beyond Alex Rios, who actually really needed his four-hit performance on Wednesday to snap out of a slump. He’s the only above-average hitter in the White Sox lineup, so it’d be nice if he could stay good enough to be the fourth-best bat in the Tigers’ lineup.
It’s this still-unresolved situation that the Jake Peavy injury is lopped on top of. Four-to-six weeks without Peavy due to a non-displaced rib fracture deals the double blow of putting more stress on a starting rotation already missing Gavin Floyd, dealing with the new John Danks, hoping Dylan Axelrod keeps surviving and now, witnessing Hector Santiago’s growing pains as a starter again, but also takes away the main point of interest for a trade deadline sell-off, just as the Sox have hit the skids in a manner undeniable enough that even a front office as resolute in their ambition as this one has historically been, has considered retreat.
I was a bit surprised by unanimity from everyone I listen to on the White Sox about Jake Peavy’s trade value being destroyed, since it’s not an injury he’s had before or specifically an arm issue that would explicitly merit concern about any pitcher’s ability to continue their career after recovering. However, even an idealized recovery scenario where Peavy leaps back into the rotation after six weeks and reels off three great starts depends on the prescribed timeline staying accurate and no complications arising from overeager attempts to return.
That can seem like asking a lot.
And if it wasn’t ,the difference between Peavy fresh off the disabled list and Peavy steaming toward a second-straight 200+ inning campaign is still probably significant in trade valuations.
It’s still early for those, by the way, since prices are of small concern when no one is buying or selling yet. Everyone is still competing at full throat at the beginning of June or at least acting like it, especially if there’s no youth movement waiting behind the dying veteran core. It would be interesting what the product of the threatened accountability would be for struggling players, but with the White Sox running out substitute teachers until the weekend, they’ll likely be in stasis until then.
Given the past five years, it will be a familiar feeling, but hopefully it won’t last. I can hope that my complete inability to find an interesting way to wrap up this post is reflective of the current uninspiring state of the White Sox, the difficult future they face and the anxiety felt by all about their willingness and ability to do what’s necessary, and not me.
There’s a Chris Kamka tweet from a little while back that I’d blow up and put on my wall if I could find it about how finding something interesting about your favorite team no matter what the situation is, can be one of most rewarding challenges of fandom.
The first round of the draft is tonight and I’m going to try to familiarize myself with the entire field after not reading anything about it for weeks due to grad school obligations. Jose Quintana is starting and I always love to see how his development is going. Maybe Dayan will stop breaking my heart with every plate appearance.
There needs to be something to focus on, because if the eight-game losing streak did anything, it took away what we could ignore.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan