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White Sox Early Season Offensive Struggles and Taxes

It was a sign of things to come when Josh Fields hit a triple in the first inning, only to watch Carlos Quentin strike out meekly and have Jim Thome follow suit on just 3 pitches.

Or when Brian Anderson led off the 3rd with a 5-pitch walk -- Seriously Detroit, how do walk Anderson in three straight plate appearances? On a total of 13 pitches? -- only to get thrown out by about 5 feet.

Or when Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski led off the 5th with back-to-back singles, with Konerko unable to advance to third on a ball roped at his feet into right field, only to have Alexei Ramirez bunting ahead of Anderson and Brent Lillibridge. Ramirez failed to get the bunt down, but the result of his at-bat was just the same, putting runners on second and third for two replacement-level talents at the plate. Needless to say Anderson and Lillibridge didn't come up with the big hit.

The White Sox were never in the game again.

Jose Contreras was locked in a pitcher's duel with Armando Galarraga in the 5th inning, but worked himself into a jam he couldn't get himself out of -- as tends to happen when you walk Josh Anderson and Ramon Santiago. Seriously, why can't the Sox get that guy out this year? Over the next 4 innings, Contreras and the back end of the Sox pen took to making the game such a laugher that I'll probably have this entry posted before the end of the game. And there might be a Jerry Owens sighting.

Where's Jose's Forkball?

At the tail end of Contreras' outing, Hawk and Steve Stone were talking about how encouraging his first two trips to the mound have been. Stone made a comment something like "his forkball is there," which was the exact opposite of what I think I've observed in the early going.

So I headed over to brooks baseball, which uses MLB's woefully inaccurate pitch recognition algorithm, mis-labelling just about everything Count throws. But Contreras' forkball is easy enough to spot simply based on velocity. He doesn't throw a curveball, and his rarely thrown changeup averages about 80 MPH, so anything between 68 and 77 MPH is definitely a forkball.

Going through his first two starts, Contreras has thrown 13 forkballs in two games, spanning 182 pitches. That works out to about 7% of his pitches thrown. According to Fangraphs, which uses a much more accurate pitch recognition model, he has thrown forkballs for about 22% of his pitches on his career, and almost 25% last season.

Now to be fair, for about 75 pitches Contreras did have better control of his fastball today, and genuinely looked like he was getting closer to being back at 100%. But I don't think Count is long for the big leagues as a fastball/slider/changeup pitcher. He needs to get back to being a fastball/forkball/slider guy.