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Has the Clock Struck Midnight For White Sox?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 5, 2012 4:40PM

2012_09_white-sox-baseball-clock.png Over beers the other day, we lamented to our editor-in-chief Chuck that if the White Sox couldn't win the weekend series against the Detroit Tigers, we feared that their surprising season would not end with a trip to the post-season. Detroit swept the Sox, and briefly tied them atop the AL Central standings.

The reason for our sudden negativity was the South Siders' pitching, one of their strengths throughout much of the season. Having already lost John Danks for the year back in May, they lost veteran pitcher Gavin Floyd to the DL last week. That leaves the depleted Sox rotation with Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Francisco Liriano along with a parade of fill-ins like Dylan Axelrod and Hector Santiago.

While Sale has impressed all year and Quintana has been a surprise since joining the rotation in late spring, both have pitched more innings in 2012 than in any season before and it's beginning to show. Sale led the league when his ERA dropped to 2.11 following his first start after the All-Star break. Since then, his ERA has been 4.64 and he's only 4-4. It's a similar story for Quintana, whose ERA skyrocketed to 5.33 following the break after entering with a 2.04 ERA. He lasted just 1-1/3 inning in last night's drubbing at the hands of the last place Minnesota Twins.

Liriano was a mid-season acquisition pulled off by GM Kenny Williams to bolster the rotation, but since his arrival he has also allowed over four and a half runs per nine innings. Peavy alone has been consistent all year long (and healthy! Jinx!). Yet because the White Sox offense has often failed to provide enough run support, Peavy is just 9-10 on the year.

And what of Phil Humber, who tossed a perfect game back in April?

Humber rarely looked like the pitcher we saw on that magical day in April. He spent some time on the DL, remained inconsistent upon his return and has been relegated to the bullpen for the past month. In relief last night, he was tagged for eight runs in just 1/3 of an inning. Ouch! Before that, we'd have suggested that perhaps it's time for manager Robin Ventura to consider giving Humber another shot to start.

So that leaves the White Sox with the young arms of Santiago and Axelrod as perhaps their best hope for holding off the charging Tigers. Unless Ventura decides to give Dewayne Wise the ball again?

With a scant one game lead and 27 left to play, we're less than confident that the White Sox can pull this off. Sure, it'll be disappointing to see them lead for most of the season and come up short. Given that we predicted a sub-.500 record for this team back in March, perhaps we should admire all they've done. On the other hand, with the playoffs so close, it'll still be disappointing for Sox fans who've had fun watching this team exceed expectations all season long.