South Side Morning/Afternoon 5: White Sox starting pitching is not bad

1. Carlos Rodon not only has 10-straight quality starts after six shutout innings Wednesday night, he has 10-straight starts with two runs or less allowed. He has a 1.60 ERA over this stretch. Somewhere along the line he switched from becoming a raw talent to the White Sox starter providing the steadiest run prevention and innings in a rotation that has Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.

He’s still a raw talent, as shown by four unintentional walks in six innings, even with a tight zone, but when your stuff is so completely overwhelming to lefties…

“Left-handed hitters are now 28-for-150 lifetime against Rodon, with 0 homers and 12 RBIs”
-Scott Merkin

…it reduces the need for precision.

Rodon had basically no control of anything offspeed at all Wednesday night, landing just nine sliders for strikes (all of them swung on), and barely even touching his changeup. Optimistically, Rodon is a complete mess, a work very early in progress, and still basically unhittable, albeit by a presently terrible offense.

2. Rodon was pulled after a tight sixth inning at 107 pitches, which seemed to place a nice bow on an outing that was tiptoeing around disaster more than the final score. It also seemed like the type of situation last year where Rodon would have had the chance to start the seventh inning with the bullpen waiting behind him, especially after he was handed a 3-0 lead in the top of the inning.

The Sox led the league in pitches per start, and 100+ pitch starts by a country mile in 2015, and were also the only club that averaged over 100 pitches per start. They were, aggressive, but also healthy and–save for Jeff Samardzija–very productive. Still, there are signs of them taming it slightly. Thanks to 104 and 107-pitch outing for Chris Sale, cautious pulls of Jose Quintana at 96 and 100 pitches, and extremly gentle treatment of Mat Latos in his opener, the Sox average start was at 99.4 pitches through Tuesday. That’s low enough to actually be behind multiple other MLB teams, including the Royals, who have no business being at the top of this list.

The Sox methods of health maintenance are well-revered at this point, but more caution isn’t unwelcome. The Sox have finished either first or second in baseball in pitches per start for each of the last three years.

3. Fantasizing about every recognizable name that crawls across the waiver wire isn’t healthy or advisable. Especially when those names are someone who hasn’t been any good since 2014, like 34-year-old Michael Morse, or worse, injured and unwanted Pablo Sandoval. But when the DH combination is Avisail Garcia and Jerry Sands–however you feel about his 1-4, HR, 3 K performance Wednesday, his skill set is redundant wit Garcia’s–there’s potential for improvement with just about any character.

Despite Morse’s vagabond recent ways, his multi-year TAv vs. righties is .271, while Garcia’s is .238 and Sands is under .200. Sandoval is the best of the group (.281) but that’s a case of where your eyes and your wallet need to sweep the projections right off your desk. Morse would be an interesting gamble, no small part due to the fact that he could be quickly abandoned, since this is really an issue to swing their Adam LaRoche cash at.

4. Alex Avila ducked punishment on this final swing from Oswaldo Arcia in the ninth of Wednesday’s game, but not until he already got struck flush on two backswings. This is something that Avila in particular, does not need to have happen.

Tim Anderson‘s mysterious absence from Triple-A action now has the explanation of a wrist sprain, so it probably would have been better if he had actually just disappeared on a vision quest. It’s not a serious injury, but any stumble is a blow to the accelerated timeline scenario, which is both a good thing for Anderson’s development and a bad thing if you are worried about Jimmy Rollins‘ bat (.192 TAv so far).

5. LaRoche’s long profile with ESPN about his decision to retire due to being told to stop bring his son to the clubhouse is seemingly the last bizarre chapter of this exceedingly bizarre tale. It reiterates the account of LaRoche’s decision coming after being told to stop bringing his son entirely, rather than simply making him more scarce, which again highlights Kenny Williams’ role in bringing the situation to a head, but also makes bizarre side trips in painting the tremendously popular LaRoche as an iconoclast.

In some efforts to serve this narrative, the profile flops, since LaRoche’s love of hunting, rustic life and deep evangelical faith is exceedingly normal both for a guy from rural Kansas and by MLB clubhouse standards, but the revelation that LaRoche did undercover reconnaissance work for an anti-sex trafficking non-profit in southeast Asia while under contract is…well, how do you finish that sentence?

In all, LaRoche seems like a very genuine person, who reaches his decisions with good intentions, which is at times jarring and informative to witness, since they are so far apart from any position I would ever take on my own.

This is the part where I feel like there should be a concluding note, or larger assessment of how this reflects on the team or how to treat these cases going forward, but this may not be possible with the LaRoche saga. I think we’re just done here.


Lead Photo Image: Bruce Kluckhohn // USA Today Sports Images

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1 comment on “South Side Morning/Afternoon 5: White Sox starting pitching is not bad”


Concluding note on LaRoche should be that he is a weirdo red-neck dingus who is not good at baseball. The Sox and their fans should all breathe a huge sigh of relief to have this contract and player in the past.

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