...That, or the White Sox are going through one of those lean years in starting pitching. The type that comes after dealing away from the rotation--rightly--and showing a heavy dose of confidence in the organization's ability to convert unremarkable farm arms into mid-rotation starters. The Sox are exactly the type of team in exactly the type of situation that should suffer through a year of raw, undeveloped pitching.
That said, this looks rough. Godspeed, Coop.
He had a bit more zip on his fastball in the thin air of Denver Monday night (94.5 mph), and the raw materials might be more important than the refinement for a guy in his first post-TJ season.
In the mean time, he could certainly use some of that refinement. That heat was flat and up in the zone all night. It's pretty hard to believe Paulino could flirt with 95 mph the whole game and not generate a single whiff on fastball. It's like he was firing tracers up to the plate before every pitch
His slider got all three of his swings-and-misses Monday, but was probably an even worse pitch. He threw cement-mixers with equal measure to anything with snap, and has yet to establish any feel for his change-up, which you could probably tell just from seeing the results of his fastball.
Lacking control--six walks in 9.2 innings--Cooper's project for Paulino for the year is probably going to be installing that cutter we often romance about. Paulino needs a strike-grabber and something to bridge his process between nibbling and throwing arrows through the epicenter of the strike zone.
The veteran southpaw actually gritted his way through a seven-inning quality start in his only time out, and has the second-best ERA on the rotation, but any hint that he's going to have more to work with in 2014 was absent from his opening start.
Danks needed a full-body lunge to crack 90 mph on Saturday, and regularly resorted to desperate tactics like throwing three changeups in a row rather that challenge any hitters inside. This is not the type of approach that responds well to advance scouting. Nor does any strategy that's unpredictability is solely rooted in its disregard for tact.
Adjusting to his new state of affairs is an ever-evolving thing, but after the Spring he had, the hope was Danks could hit the ground running, and not for his life.
Johnson averaged under 91 mph on his fastball Friday, had his slider/cutter work in progress slapped around whenever it wasn't dumped in the dirt and retired less than half of the lefties he faced...and he faced 13 of them.
If he's healthy, and simply cold and easing into the new season, then it's a matter of hashing out his primary breaking ball. It's been in a flux over the past year as he's re-fashioned it into something like a cutter. If he can wrap his hand around his slider/cutter perfectly, it's a matter of figuring out if it's a viable offering to left-handed hitters, because Johnson has little answer for them currently in his repertoire.
Save for Danks, who is most expressly concerned with staying afloat in spite of the holes in his boat, the raw, unrefined talent is visible throughout, and they could look very different once the adjustments planted in Spring start taking reasonable effect. But this is a long road, and the phrase 'adapt or die' has two words listed after "adapt" for a reason.
Tommy Hanson is an irrelevant lottery ticket addition that could have been made at any point and really has no bearing on anything. But his signing is a reminder about pitching projects: you collect them, so you can move on to the the next one if and when they fail.
*Jose Quintana gave up five runs (two earned) in his Opening Day start and did not even make the cut of a 'Troubled Starters' article
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