Since signing a five-year, $65 million contract with the Chicago White Sox in 2012, John Danks has underperformed for the amount the team is paying him, and Baseball Prospectus doesn’t see that trend ending anytime soon.
For the upcoming 2015 season, Baseball Prospectus has projected the left-handed starter to finish 9-10 this season, worse than his record from last season when he finished 11-11 overall.
Danks, who is 30 years old, is projected to have an ERA above 4.00 by the publication at 4.41, but at least that is an improvement over last season’s final ERA of 4.74, and that of 2013, which was 4.75.
BP also has Danks totaling 124 strikeouts for the upcoming ’15 season and compiling a WHIP of 1.36, as that is comparable to last season, when Danks’ WHIP was 1.44 in 193.2 innings pitched.
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Looking at the upcoming season for Danks, a year where he’ll earn $15.75 million, the question for the lefty is can he at least produce to the level of a No. 4 or 5 starter, though he’s getting paid more than any pitcher on the staff.
If there ever was a bad contract by the White Sox, the one given to Danks has turned out to be a bust for sure, no matter how well he ends up pitching the final two seasons of the five-year deal, which amounts to over $31 million remaining.
In a recent article by Colleen Kane in the Chicago Tribune, Danks said he’s capable of winning games and being a reliable pitcher:
"“We’re all capable of giving us a chance to win every night. It falls on myself and Hector (Noesi) to do our job on the back end. I know we’re both ready for that and kind of take it as a challenge to keep up with those guys.”"
The article also spoke about Danks not wanting to give up as many home runs as he did the past couple seasons. Last season, Danks allowed 25 home runs, and the season before he gave up 28 homers. Back to the BP projections … this season the publication has Danks allowing 19 home runs in ’15, which is a six home run difference from last year.
If Danks wants to stay in the rotation, allowing fewer home runs would be a good start to that process. Think about this … if Danks can get actually pitch as well as the White Sox are paying him, imagine the damage the rotation could cause the opposition in ’15.
Jul 8, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher John Danks (50) pitches during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
We know Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana are going to be productive, and Hector Noesi will most likely give the White Sox some quality outings, but I believe Danks is the biggest wild card of any of the pitchers on the White Sox roster.
It would be great to see Danks pitch the way the White Sox believed he would when giving him such a lengthy and expensive contract.
Even if Danks can pitch to where he has an ERA closer to 4.00 rather than 5.00, that would work well enough for the White Sox to have more success than they had the past couple seasons, and that would “maybe” make the contract easier to digest.