Not enough people are DJs

If you had to pick the most valuable member of the White Sox bullpen, it really comes down to two choices:

  1. carrasco0809Matt Thornton.
  2. D.J. Carrasco.

They’ve combined for 10 wins this season already.  Thornton’s picked his up thanks to his work in high-leverage situations (only one vultured win). Carrasco, who picked up victory No. 4 with 2 1/3 shutout innings in Saturday’s 8-5 triumph over Cleveland, has worked two-plus innings in three of his four W’s.
Basically, they’ve gotten the statistical credit they deserve for hammering down their respective roles — Thornton as the specialist/setup man, Carrasco as the stirrups-sporting swingman.
Carrasco’s been so good, in fact, that he’s simultaneously making a case for and against giving him the fifth-starter spot. He’d get a look at his desired job in a fair world, but he’s too valuable in his current role to make any changes.
Carrasco, as far as I can tell, leads the league in innings pitched by a reliever.  He’s done it in small bursts, like when he threw 9 2/3 innings in five appearances over a seven-day stretch.  More recently, he’s bailed out wild starters in each of his last two outings.  Entering Saturday, he was coming off an outing in which he threw four innings of one-run ball against the Angels on Aug. 4, which allowed the Sox to come back.
Complicating matters, Gavin Floyd appears to be the only starter without a question mark.
Since retiring 45 straight batters, Mark Buehrle has allowed 28 hits and 17 earned runs over his last 13 1/3 innings. Ozzie Guillen raised the issue of fatigue:

”I don’t know if it’s location — but no movement [on his pitches]. Everything was kind of flat, and he wasn’t hitting his spots. I don’t know if it’s fatigue or what. The last two starts he’s not the same guy we’ve seen on the mound.”

Buehrle denies fatigue, and I suppose he knows better than anybody else.  Plus, it should almost be expected at this time of the year.
August has been his worst month historically. Even last season, when the Sox made a concerted effort to limit Buehrle’s workload for the first half of the season, he posted a 5.86 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP.
On the other hand, Buehrle has had far more high-stress starts this season. At this point last year, Buehrle had only one start where he reached 110 pitches — and he threw exactly 110 pitches. This season, Buehrle has done it five times, including three in his last five starts.
It doesn’t help that Buehrle had to pitch in front of Torres.  Guillen’s decision to leave Buehrle out for 7 2/3 innings and 115 pitches on Friday was validated after Torres lasted just 3 1/3 innings on Saturday. And it might be once again with Jose Contreras starting today.
Fortunately, Buehrle won’t have that kind of burden on his next start in Seattle, as the Sox have the following day off. Six innings and 85 pitches would be a nice change of pace if the offense can support it.
John Danks, meanwhile, hasn’t quite been the same pitcher since returning from his blister woes.  He’s lost a little bit of velocity, but command issues command more attention.  He’s walked 17 batters (to just 20 K’s) over his last 30 innings, and since the start of July, and he’s only gotten swinging strikes on 7 percent of his pitches. Through the end of June, Danks had been around 12 percent.
Hitters have punished Danks accordingly. He’s already allowed more homers (16) this year than he did in all of 2008 (15).
As generally good as the starters have been, this isn’t the 2005 rotation.  There are health issues and age issues (on both sides of the spectrum) to account for, and Carrasco has been the rubber-armed rubber cement keeping the cracks from expanding.
The best way to sum it up is to ask the question, “If not Carrasco, then who?”  In the case of spot starting, there are answers. Maybe it’s giving Torres another shot, or maybe it’s letting Jack Egbert attempt to redeem himself in his natural role. John Ely isn’t even out of the question (see below).
When it comes to the role Carrasco currently fills — keeping the team in the game for multiple innings on a moment’s notice — the solutions are harder to come by.  Egbert, for instance, already bombed in the bullpen, and nobody else on the farm is accustomed to that kind of usage.  Derek Rodriguez is the only one who might not skip a beat, but his rhythm ain’t that great to begin with.
If Buehrle and Danks can somehow rebound quickly and Contreras continues his decline, then maybe Carrasco would have the most utility in the rotation.  But the way I’m looking at it, until Jake Peavy can be counted upon, Carrasco isn’t likely to be short of work.
****************************
Minor league roundup:

  • Indianapolis 2, Charlotte 1
    • Jack Egbert had his best start since the end of June, allowing two runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. No walks, six strikeouts. Unfortunately, his night ended with a solo homer, which proved to be the decisive run.
    • Ehren Wassermann threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out one.
    • Josh Fields went 1-for-3 with a walk; Stefan Gartrell did the same without the walk.
    • Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge and Wilson Betemit combined to go 0-for-11.
  • Birmingham 15, Tennessee 0
    • John Ely threw six fine innings, striking out five while scattering four hits and a walk.
    • Dayan Viciedo had three singles and three RBI, and was also hit by a pitch.
    • Christian Marrero went 1-for-3 with a solo homer, three walks and four runs scored.
    • C.J. Retherford also drove in three with a 2-for-5 day, and Jimmy Gallagher wnet 3-for-5 with a double and four RBI.
    • Jordan Danks singled, walked and scored twice in six plate appearances. No strikeouts.
    • Sergio Santos, Miguel Socolovich and John Lujan each threw a inning.
  • Winston-Salem 5, Frederick 4
    • Brent Morel went 3-for-5 with his 25th double and an RBI. He was also caught stealing.
    • Salvador Sanchez and Greg Paiml also had three hits apiece; Tyler Kuhn went 1-for-5 with an RBI and his sixth steal.
    • Justin Edwards was OK, allowing four runs on eight hits over 7 1/3 innings. He gave up a pair of solo homers and a walk while striking out two.
    • Charlis Burdie struck out three over 1 2/3 innings for the win.
  • Kannapolis 8, Greensboro 6
    • Jared Mitchell drew three walks in four plate appearances, striking out the other time.
    • Jon Gilmore went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI, and also stole his fourth base.
    • Stephen Sauer allowed all four runs in the fourth inning, and ended up lasting seven. Five hits, three walks, five strikeouts and one homer allowed.
    • Dan Remenowsky struck out the side for his 19th save.
  • Bristol 3, Greeneville 1
    • Andre Rienzo struck out seven over six innings, allowing just one unearned run on three hits and two walks.
    • Goldy Simmons (2 IP) and Brent DeFoor (1 IP) closed it out with scoreless relief.
    • Leighton Pangilinan went 3-for-3 with a double and three RBI.
    • Trayce Thompson went 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts; Miguel Gonzalez went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double.
  • Missoula 14, Great Falls 9
    • Rough day for Voyager pitching, as Missoula scored in every inning but the seventh.
    • Kyle Colligan hit a solo homer, his sixth.
    • Multi-hit games for Johny Celis (3-for-4, 1 HR), Bobby Cummings (2-for-3, 1 BB, 1 2B, 2 RBI) and Matthew Harughty (2-for-2, 1 3B, 1 BB).

Minor league trip update: Jake Peavy is starting Thursday, and Dan Hudson could be starting Friday for Charlotte (he’s officially on the roster), as he’s expected to make his Triple-A debut today.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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jimbo

Although DJ would probably be our best option for interim 5th starter, I think he is too valuable in his relief role.
Also, I appreciate your minor league updates. You give a great summary and recap of the key prospects for us daily without having to pour through box scores to get the detail. I’m looking forward to your take on them while you are on your NC scouting trip.

knoxfire30

I saw 4 games on the schedule after the trade where we would have to go to a mystery starter so far its been carrasco and torres and someway somehow we have won both games. If we split the other two then it was a heck of a job by the pen and the offense of getting by with a fake starter. Personally I pull someone else up and let them rot even at the expense of a loss, they have gone to the bullpen well a few too many times and the regular starters are being worked pretty heavy. I hated that buerhle last 7 and 2/3’s last night that was rediculous. Sox didnt have to take torres out as early as they did, although it may have won that game.
Maybe bring Egbert, Hudson, Ely up send Randy WIlliams down and then make sure to get 7 or 8 innings out of the pitcher you call up and then carlos torres.