I guess it’s safe to say that this year’s Chicago White Sox opening day starter, John Danks, is no longer considered the ace of the staff, what with his lackluster numbers juxtaposed against the dominating stats being put up by the youngster Chris Sale and the patched up veteran Jake Peavy. The former had a dominant, club record setting 14 Ks in one game while the latter is looking like his Cy Young days from when he wore a San Diego Padres uniform.
Yet both have White Sox fans on pins and needles as the tendency to break down could be very likely. Which guy makes you more nervous and why: Peavy with his recent injury history or Sale with slight build coupled with violent throwing motion? (Paul M. Banks)
Even though I boldly proclaimed to Whitesox.com on opening day that I “smelled a possible Cy Young for Jake Peavy,” I think Peavy makes me more nervous at this point because his veteran leadership has anointed him the staff ace title even if Chris Sale’s numbers are more dominant at this point.
Peavy’s mechanics are such that you would never show a little leaguer his game film and tell them to emulate him. His injury history makes you feel like every time he takes the mound, he’s on borrowed time. As a matter of fact, everyone is worried about Chris Sale reaching an artificial season innings cap of 150-160 innings pitched correct? Well since 2008, Peavy has only hit that number once, when in 2008 he pitched 173 innings. Since then the closest he came was last season when he pitched 111 innings.
The violent snap at the end on Sale’s delivery is scary also. Perhaps the fact that he has such a slender frame has many concerned, but honestly I’m not worried as much there. The more strikeouts he racks up the more Sox fans fears waiver and comparisons to future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson begin. (Soxman)
What kind of innings expectations and also limit should we expect for each guy? Same question regarding pitch counts? How much of this monitoring could be sacrificing long term need for short term success (PMB)
The funny thing on Chris Sale is that everyone perceives he is frail because the White Sox are monitoring all issues with their young star closely. Innings control is something that most teams do with young pitchers nowadays. The fact that for three days Sale was announced the new White Sox closer was more a matter of a communication snafu between the GM and his coaching staff than it was a true decision.
Kenny Williams also admitted that Sale himself helped convince him that remaining a starter was best for the team.
As pitch counts relate to both pitchers I believe the White Sox when they say they will monitor both pitchers closely. I also believe that if they can ever put a little distance between themselves and the Indians, you will see them use the schedule to their advantage more by skipping starts with both pitchers and even calling up minor leaguers for spot starts here and there.
If they are in the hunt for play-offs (which I fully expect them to be) into August, the amount of rest they get could be as much dependent on the performance of the other starters as the mileage on Sale and Peavy’s arms.
Gavin Floyd (5.32 ERA), John Danks (5.70 ERA) and Phil Humber (5.68 ERA) have not at all performed to expectations and will certainly need to improve for the White Sox to be successful. Danks’ legitimate shoulder issues could be more concerning that the risk on injuries to Peavy and Sale. (SM)
Sale obviously has a very high ceiling as he’s a first round pick, what could we expect him to be…versus say Peavy in his prime. i.e. which pitcher do you think would be better at his prime? (PMB)
If Sale remains healthy, I think he has the higher ceiling as it is very possible he could have a similar career to Randy Johnson, who he draws so many comparisons to. Despite is violent throwing motion, Sale’s mechanics are more sound. Honestly though this is truly a crystal ball type of question as Peavy is approaching the twilight of his career, while Sale’s is just beginning.
While I think Peavy is an awesome pitcher, a leader and a fierce competitor, he has spent time on the disabled list every season since 2008. In fairness to him it’s hard to fault him because of that. (SM)
Finally, the million dollar question- who is the true ace of the staff?
Strictly by veteran presence, stepping up early in the season and by the leadership he exhibited when media appointed staff ace John Danks sputtered out of the gate this season, Peavy gets the title, but from a pure numbers perspective, the title belongs to Chris Sale at the moment. Why?
Chris Sale is:
· 3rd in MLB baseball and first in the American League among starters in ERA (2.30).
· 7th in strike outs in the AL (69), despite having at least one less start than all other AL pitching leaders,
· 4th in AL in WHIP (Peavy is first)
· 2nd in the AL in Batting Average Allowed (.193)
Peavy’s numbers are equally as impressive, which is a great debate to have isn’t it?
I’ll also be the first to admit that I didn’t believe Sale would have this level of success in his first year as a starter. It will be great to see how hitters adjust to him after seeing him a second or third time around, but his stuff is really nasty. This team reminds me a lot of the 1983 White Sox, with their mix of veteran pitchers like Jerry Koosman and youngsters like Brit Burns. This of course is a discussion for a future post. Stay tuned!
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks