Saturday, September 02, 2006
I Don't Get It Either
That's what I wrote to someone on the Sox e-mail list about this Sox team. Despite terrific offseason acquisitions like Jim Thome and (as it looked at the time) Javier Vazquez, this team is struggling down the stretch. It has been losing to Kansas City. It could not close the deal against the Devil Rays. And they have lost consistently to Minnesota - 4 out of the 6 games they played.
Let's place the blame squarely where it lies: the starting staff. Of course, that's been said before by every sports writer in Chicago as well as Ozzie Guillen time after time. But it's not that the starting staff has failed, but it's how surprising it is that the starting staff has failed:
- Contreras really and truly looked like he turned the corner last year. In fact, he looked effortless - like Don Cooper had turned a switch. We didn't necessarily expect a Cy Young season, but a low 3 ERA and consistent performance looked like it was in the cards.
- Buehrle was as consistent a pitcher as there is in the league. You can generally mark him down for a 3.2-4.1 ERA and a .600 winning percentage. In only 1 year out of the last 5 - 2002 - has he even been above 4.0 and not been 6 games over .500
- Garcia has been a consistently good to very good pitcher - he's never had an ERA above 4.52, and he's in his prime (he turned 30 during this season).
- Garland had a great year in 2005 and is coming into his prime. In the second half, he is the one guy holding the rotation together. Yet his poor performances early stuck him with an ERA above 4.40.
- Vazquez has great stuff, and pitched well in the past, and had the luxury of being a 5th starter. But he is a loser. I mean, this guy just seems to pitch well enough to lose every game. Like there is some loser aura around him. He's been given the lead in 23 of the 26 games he has started! To only come out with an 11-8 ERA is, well, startling. He's lost the lead more often than he's protected a lead. Inexcusable.
This team, in this division, with the offense being produced this year, should have won 105-110 games. Seriously. To have 4 of your 5 starting pitchers perform well below their career performance (with a footnote on Contreras) is very poor luck, or even poor coaching.
It seems very likely that the pitching will rebound next year - perhaps with some changes to the rotation (I'm hoping that McCarthy is IN and Vazquez is OUT). Of course, it's unlikely that Dye or Thome, as they age, will be able to reproduce their production this year, and even Crede and Konerko are near the top of their performance charts.
Of course, the 2005 White Sox seemed to get by with an average offense....