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Sink or Swim Series?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jul 18, 2006 7:30PM

2006_07_sports_panic_button.gifThe White Sox open a 3-game series against the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers tonight in Detroit. Some are considering this a do or die series, even though we're only in mid-July. Amazing how losing 5 of 6 brings out the doom and gloom in so many Sox fans. Especially when it includes a sweep by the Yanks. Fortunately, the local media are trying to talk Sox fans down off the ledge. It's not time to panic -- yet!

Entering the series, the Sox sit 4 1/2 games back of the Tigers. There are about 70 games to go in the regular season -- plenty of time to make up that amount of ground. Of course, a sweep of the Tigers would cut that to 1 1/2 games, while a Tigers sweep increases the gap to 7 1/2 games. Chicagoist would certainly like to see the Sox win at least two games at Comerica, but the season's not lost if the Sox don't.

Perhaps the biggest concern about the White Sox has been their starting pitching. Thought to be their biggest strength, their five starters have been mediocre at best lately. Over the past 30 games, the Sox team ERA is 5.14, ahead of only the Kansas City Royals. Ouch! Maybe that's why there have been rumors that Kenny Williams is looking to deal one of his starters -- likely Freddy Garcia or Javier Vasquez -- and give Brandon McCarthy a shot in the rotation. Is that really what this team needs?

Much speculation about decline in the pitching staff has to do with the number of innings their pitchers have pitched over the past season and a half. They've all eaten up innings, in the regular season, in the playoffs and for a number of them, in the World Baseball Challange. All those innings may simply be catching up to them

Clearly, McCarthy seems ready to enter the rotation, so why not go to a six man rotation instead of the traditional five? Reduce the wear and tear on the pitchers so they'll be stronger heading into the post season? Keep them all sharp throughout the end of the season. Williams will find some way to add the bullpen help the Sox need. And starting pitching is too valuable a commodity to give away.