Friday, May 16, 2014
Checking in with former White Sox pitchers ... are any of them missed?
We also know those numbers are down across the board here in 2014, even though the Sox (20-22) are still hanging around .500 going into this weekend's series against the Houston Astros. So far this season, Sox pitchers have posted a 4.74 ERA. The WHIP sits at 1.476, with a 4.44 FIP.
The Sox have dealt with a couple of key pitching injuries this year. Ace Chris Sale has been limited to four starts, and reliever Nate Jones has appeared in just two games. Both pitchers remain on the disabled list. Other pitchers have underperformed severely. Rookie Erik Johnson couldn't find the strike zone and earned himself a demotion back to Charlotte. Free-agent signee Felipe Paulino was a disaster in the rotation and eventually ended up on the disabled list.
In addition, several pieces of the 2013 pitching staff are no longer here for various reasons. Some were traded as salary dumps. Some were traded for young position players to get the rebuilding process started. Another left via free agency.
The Sox pitching staff is weaker this year because of a combination of factors, one of which is the fact that some guys who helped the team in the past are now elsewhere. But as I look at the list of pitchers who were here last year but are gone now, I can't say I miss any of them all that much.
Here's a closer look at those six pitchers and how they're doing now. All statistics are entering Friday's games:
Jake Peavy (Boston)
South Side departure: The veteran was traded last July in a three-team deal that netted the Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia.
Current numbers: 1-1, 3.94 ERA, 1.458 WHIP in eight starts
Is he missed?: People have noted Peavy is the only player still healthy who was involved in last July's deal. Garcia is on the DL for the Sox, and Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias also is on the shelf. But, while Peavy's ERA is decent, I expect it to go up if he continues pitching the way he has. He's walked 27 men in 48 innings this year. His WHIP is well above his career norm of 1.184. The soon-to-be 33-year-old is on the back side of his career. I think the Sox traded him at the right time. Even with Garcia sidelined with a serious shoulder injury, he's far more likely to help the Sox over the next five or six years than an aging pitcher like Peavy.
Gavin Floyd (Atlanta)
South Side departure: An elbow injury limited the veteran to just five starts in 2013. He signed a free-agent deal with the Braves over the offseason.
Current numbers: 0-1, 2.70 ERA in two starts
Is he missed?: Floyd has made it back from Tommy John surgery and recently joined the Atlanta rotation. I've heard some people argue the Sox should have brought Floyd back on an incentive-laden deal, and that he would look good at the back of the rotation right now. That's probably true, but can you imagine what people would have said if the Sox had re-signed Floyd in December or January? The fans would have been howling about the team wasting resources on an injured player.
Hector Santiago (L.A. Angels)
South Side departure: The left-hander was traded over the offseason as part of a three-team deal that netted the Sox center fielder Adam Eaton.
Current numbers: 0-6, 5.09 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts)
Is he missed?: The Sox did a good job of selling high on Santiago, who made 23 starts and posted a respectable 3.56 ERA in 2013. But, Santiago is nothing more than a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, and he lacks the command to be a consistent pitcher. The Sox recognized he was unlikely to duplicate his success and flipped him for Eaton, who is the center fielder and leadoff hitter of the present and future. While there are injury concerns with Eaton, I don't think anyone would argue his upside is far greater than Santiago's. That's especially true since Santiago was recently removed from the Angels' rotation for ineffectiveness.
Addison Reed (Arizona)
South Side departure: The closer was dealt to the Diamonbacks straight up for third base prospect Matt Davidson.
Current numbers: 1-3, 5.03 ERA, 1.271 WHIP, 11 for 13 in save opportunities
Is he missed?: As long as Davidson continues to struggle in Triple-A, people are going to continue to criticize the decision to trade Reed. That's especially true because Matt Lindstrom has been hit-or-miss as a closer for the Sox this season. However, it's fair to say Reed has had Arizona fans reaching for the antacid as well this year. Look at that high ERA and WHIP. It's not what you want from a closer. I like Reed, and I'm not going to try to convince anyone that he's not a decent bullpen guy. He is. However, he was never dominant and shouldn't have been considered an untouchable by any means. It is way too early to give up on the 22-year-old Davidson, and it's still way too early to judge that trade.
Matt Thornton (N.Y. Yankees)
South Side departure: His salary was dumped last July in a trade with Boston. The Sox acquired outfielder Brandon Jacobs from the Red Sox. Jacobs was later sent to the Diamondbacks as a throw-in as part of the Eaton/Santiago trade. Thornton signed with the Yankees over the offseason.
Current numbers: 0-1, 5.40 ERA, 16 games, 6.2 IP, 1.800 WHIP
Is he missed?: Thornton is nothing more than a situational left-hander these days. His K rate is about half of what it was during his White Sox heyday from 2008-2010. He's 37 years old. He's got a lot of mileage on his arm. By this time next year, he'll probably be out of baseball. He's had a nice career as a relief pitcher, but it's all but over now.
Jesse Crain (Houston)
South Side departure: He was traded (while on the disabled list) last July as part of a conditional deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. He never threw a pitch with Tampa Bay and signed with Houston as a free agent over the offseason.
Current numbers: None. He hasn't thrown a pitch since June 29, 2013, when he was still with the White Sox.
Is he missed?: Crain had an 0.74 ERA in 38 appearances at the time the Sox put him on the disabled list last year. He was always good when healthy, but you can't say you miss a guy who hasn't been on a big-league mound in nearly a year.
As a Sox fan, are there any of these guys you would take back if you could? Reed would help, but I think I'd rather have Davidson in the organization, all things considered. Even though the pitching is generally weaker this year, the Sox have made more good moves than bad over the past 12 months.