Chicago White Sox Roster Preview: Starting Rotation

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John Danks (The Innings Eater)

May 24, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher John Danks (50) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the New York Yankees at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox are hungry to win, but John Danks simply needs to be hungry enough to eat innings.

There in lies his true value, because the lefty is a different pitcher after an injury and subsequent shoulder surgery caused a significant drop in his velocity.

While pitching coach Don Cooper would like to mold Danks into the second coming of Mark Buehrle, a pitcher who relied more on his command and control than velocity to be successful, I’m not convinced this is a good comp.

The thing about Danks is that he’s never been a truly dominant pitcher, certainly not to a level that makes him worthy of the $14.25 million he’ll make this season. Before signing his five-year extension, Danks had just posted a losing season and a 4.33 ERA.

In that respect, the John Danks extension might actually surpass the Adam Dunn deal as Kenny William’s worst ink blotter.

The 2013 season was probably the low point for Danks as he posted a 4-14 record, with a 4.75 ERA. His 2014 season saw mild improvement, but mainly only in the fact that he was good for 193.2 innings.

The issue with Danks is you never know what you’re getting when he steps on the bump. He was able to string together a few quality starts last year, but he’s not someone you can pencil in for an ERA somewhere between 3.50-4.50 on a consistent basis.

Danks could find himself in the bullpen if he can’t learn how to be effective with diminished velocity

There are extremes, and this was apparent when he posted a 5.15 and then a 6.75 ERA in the months of July and August respectively.

That type of production just won’t cut it. Not on a team that is jockeying for a playoff spot.

The biggest contribution Danks can make in ’15 is to pitch 200 innings and relieve stress on the bullpen, but that’s honestly where he could find himself if he can’t learn how to be effective with diminished velocity.

I doubt the White Sox want to have a $14.25 million reliever in Danks, but his 200 innings aren’t worth it if those innings are made up of 5.00+ ERA outings.

Aug 22, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Chicago White Sox pitcher John Danks (50) pitches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case:

Danks is able to reinvent himself, and keep the ball in the park. He surpasses 200 innings and actually produces an ERA below 4.00.

Worst Case:

Danks implodes even further. He is essentially a BP pitching machine, and as homers fly so does frustration. By July, Danks is in the bullpen as baseball’s most expensive LOOGY.

My Prediction: 8-12 record/4.55 ERA/120 K

Next: A project pitcher at No. 5