Week in Review: They beat the Cubs, so lay off, will ya?

The White Sox went 4-3 this week. This is my first week in review, but I imagine each has had the Sox go 4-3, or 3-4, or 3-3, or maybe 2-4, but quickly followed by a 4-3. They haven't been more than a game over .500 since Tax Day. Their longest winning streak ended this week at four games. It had immediately followed a four-game losing streak. If they weren't coming off a 63-99 season, they might be the most frustrating team in the world. 

They beat the Cubs (3-1), though. So, after this, all they have to do is win 64 games total for the year and everyone's happy with their great leap forward.

Last week's theme of the week was regression to the mean, which could theoretically be the theme of every week, but is especially true when the year starts out with glove-first dudes like Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Flowers hitting .400 and Dayan Viciedo being awesome (.495 OPS, 36% K-rate in May).

With the Sox getting the gift of a struggling and incomplete Cubs offense, then showing some mixed success against an equally bad and injured Diamondbacks group, this week's theme is the battered White Sox rotation that at least got a break from being a disaster.

--For one, the Chris Sale situation is looking like a non-disaster. He completed all of his bullpen sessions successfully and threw a four-inning simulated game on Saturday without difficulty. Now the South Side ace, whose rehab of a strained elbow flexor muscle has now completed its third week after initially being projected as a two-week absence, will head back to the minors for two starts.

That's a hell of a promotion for whatever minor league team draws the lucky straw, and probably a humbling night for some poor schmucks scrapping out a living vs. Triple-A pitching. Sale's new target date is the Yankees series starting on May 22, a full month after his DL stint was announced. None of this is particularly bad, and the next specific setback or red flag in the recovery process will be the first, but even a smooth rehab like this one makes the initial party line at the time of the injury look like nonsense.

--Jose Quintana, the other starter the franchise is willingly and happily committed to for the long-term, has been a bit of an odd case. Perhaps it's about expectations being ramped up now that the Sox have extended him with the expectation that he'll sit aside Sale at the top of the rotation forever, but he hasn't seemed locked in for the whole night at any point yet this year, despite putting up a QS in all but one of his seven outings. He filleted the Cubs for four innings, then completely lost his release point and gritted his way through three more frames, and had a similar one-inning blip vs. the Diamondbacks balloon into more than it should have been.

His peripherals are dynamite, his results (3.67 ERA) aren't bad and his slider looks further along than ever. If he has dominance in him, it should start showing soon.

--The Cubs and home plate umpire Tim Woodring gave John Danks his first start worth writing home about all year. He's had better results, but racked up eight strikeouts behind the best changeups of his still-young season and home plate bloating six inches out to his arm side. If his changepiece is plus-plus, Danks can excel. But time was he lived off the combination of throwing 92-93 from the left side, a boreing cutter, and a good change. He didn't ever absolutely need just one.

--Hector Noesi made two starts this week and no one died. He throws 93-94 mph with substantial movement on his fastball, so that he's been this terrible in his career is really a testament to how low poor command and not being able to control a slider will drag you. He's not great or anything, nor does he seem particularly well-suited to his new home ballpark, but the Sox brass seems to be trusting him more and more, and would probably take his raw stuff over Scott Carroll's tightrope walking.

--Speaking of which, Carroll has two excellent starts under his belt but his "has one mediocre pitch that he's not spotting" performance against the Cubs was really troublesome. Advanced scouting doesn't seem like it will be kind to his limited complement of weapons.

--Andre Rienzo is held in a bit higher esteem than either of these two, but is probably pitching worse. He should have cruised through the end of his Arizona start, but his control became completely unglued at the end of the sixth and had to be pulled from a relative blowout.

In all, Sox starters threw 39.2 innings and allowed 20 runs. Not great, below-average, but not enough to derail a monster offense, if the Sox still have one.

Meanwhile, Erik Johnson has fared well and stayed in control in Charlotte, but is still looking those four miles he lost over his winter vacation. Felipe Paulino, on the other hand (2 GS, 5 IP, 12 H, 8 ER, 2 HR, 4 BB, 2 K) might as well lend Rienzo his Ventra card while he's out of town for this extended period.

Other tidbits

  • Marcus Semien has probably noticed that Conor Gillaspie is back from the disabled list. He started one of the last four games of the week. Gordon Beckham has taken his at-bats and ran with them, even splitting leadoff duties with the struggling Alejandro De Aza. He went 11-32 for the week with two homers, and did not walk once.
  • Jose Abreu quietly had a nice week for himself. He's still striking out a ton, he only homered once this week and his ankles kept him from playing in the field for the entire Arizona series. But he hit .346, and because it was him, it was a very loud .346.
  • Not much has come out about the progress of Jeff Keppinger. He's hitting .258/.368/.355 through nine games in Birmingham and has been playing third base.
  • Maikel Cleto was mercifully DFA'd after walking 15 batters in 14 innings. In his stead came Frank Francisco, who was blowing away Triple-A and was throwing smoke during his Sunday debut. So naturally, he got stretched for a second inning of work and gave up a bomb. Welcome to Chicago, Frank.


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