Game 116, White Sox at Mariners
Erasmo Ramirez vs. John Danks, 1:10pm
As a rebuilding team, it’s probably not that surprising that the White Sox have some payroll flexibility in the next few years. Paul Konerko’s gone after this year, and Adam Dunn’s four-year deal expires. Most of the players under contract are still good, and most of the contracts are remarkably team friendly. Jose Quintana’s due all of one million next season. Alexei Ramirez isn’t great, but his $10m salary isn’t crippling, either. Jose Abreu’s under contract until 2019, and I think the Sox are OK with that. In any event, he’s due just $7m in 2015. But then there’s John Danks.
Danks was a solid starter around 2010, topping 200 IP twice and riding a 92mph fastball and a very good change-up to around 15 fWAR in the four seasons from 2008-2011. The change-up was good enough that it inspired a counter-strategy by Tampa – Joe Maddon would stack his line-up with *lefties* against the left-handed Danks to try to get him to throw fewer change-ups. At the end of that 2011 campaign, the Sox locked him up on a 5-yr-$65m extension, covering 2012-2016. So far it…well it hasn’t been good. He made all of nine (bad) starts in the spring of 2012 before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. After a difficult surgery to repair a torn capsule, he returned to make 22 starts in 2013. Unfortunately, his velocity was down, and he got hammered in those starts, finishing with an ERA and a FIP over 5.00.
So, 2014 – another year removed from surgery, another opportunity to re-build arm stre…no, just, no. His velocity’s down again, now hovering from 88-89 with his fastball, and while his change-up’s still a decent pitch, it’s harder to get to it when batters are teeing off against his fastball. The Danks Theory thing is probably out the window as well – right-handers are eating that not-so-fastball alive. RHBs have a total of 12 HRs against his four- and two-seam fastballs this season alone, on their way to 20 HRs off of him in all. After running remarkably even splits for years, even some reverse splits, RHBs are teeing off. I don’t think we’ll see Endy Chavez, is what I’m saying. We may be seeing the sad end to Danks’ career, as he’s not been able to pull his FIP below 5 since his injury. The HRs are mounting, and it’s not like he can get a change of scenery – his contract is unmovable. Next year, Jose Quintana and Chris Sale will make $7m COMBINED, while Danks will take in $14.25m. He’ll out-earn Quintana/Sale again in 2016, but the odds he’ll actually pitch for the White Sox that year are looking pretty remote.
Erasmo Ramirez has a Danksian change-up, but he’s struggled with the long ball as well. Danks had a useful cutter for a few years to keep lefties honest, but Ramirez’s slider has been remarkably bad against right-handed bats. If it was me, I’d tell him to shelve his two-seamer and work on a cutter or a curve.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Ackley, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Morales, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Denorfia, RF
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Taylor, SS
9: Sucre, C
Tough end to the game last night. It’s actually a good sign that the M’s are sticking with Taylor today after his inglorious end in the 10th last night (error, then game ending DP). The Royals keep winning, and they and the Yankees have home games today. This is a big game, M’s.