John Danks headed to the disabled list for the first time in his career, and instead of trying to piece together one straight-line column, I'd rather spill out my thoughts and let you arrange them however you like. Be forewarned - some include a few attempts to account for the possibility of future events based on current events, recent performances and the larger context of decision-making around Major League Baseball.
In other words, CONSPIRACY THEORIES!
No. 1: Strained obliques are tricky. Danks' strain is described as "mild," but so was Mark Teahen's. He left a game early on May 11, and didn't return until June 7. There are probably different mechanics involved, but still, he missed about a solid month of action. So while some are saying he might miss just one start (which is impossible), I'd figure for at least three or four. The All-Star break will help a little.
No. 2: The White Sox will be without their best starter, at least their best June one:
- John Danks: 3-0, 1.14 ERA
- Phil Humber: 3-1, 2.48 ERA
- Edwin Jackson: 0-1, 2.81 ERA
- Mark Buehrle: 2-1, 3.20 ERA
Gavin Floyd: 1-2, 5.96 ERA
No. 3: Not included is Jake Peavy, because he hasn't been a regular starter this month. But Danks' injury now means that Peavy will have to be reliable for the next month, which means the Sox shouldn't make rash decisions like allowing Peavy to make his next scheduled start after throwing four innings of relief after Danks exited the game with his oblique injury.
CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy has convinced the White Sox that he will be ready to return to his regular spot in the rotation on Thursday.
Peavy made his last start on Wednesday, throwing 104 pitches, then turned around Saturday and threw 55 more pitches in relief after John Danks left early with an injury.
"He talked to us this morning and said he wanted to pitch that day; he’s ready to pitch that day," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "When the pitcher says he wants it and doesn’t want to change anything, I’m going to give it to him."
I'm sorry, "won't" should read "absolutely will," because both Peavy and the White Sox are set on ruining any chance to let fans start enjoying their coexistence. We get it. Peavy's a bulldog, blah blah blah...
No. 4: This just in - Peavy is in fact not a bulldog. Our Brian Bruney reports:
Bruney extends a tired comparison to its logical end: "Peavy is like a vicious pit bull--he barks, the rest of us just growl."
... and both often have to be put down because they can't control their instincts.
No. 5: Back to Danks, this won't help him in his attempt to mask his 0-8 start, but if he can make it to 175-180 innings with his usual level of performance the rest of the way, it really shouldn't hurt his arbitration case much. He was on track to make $8.25 million or thereabouts in his final year of arbitration. He still might make it, but even if he doesn't, he'll still be ahead of Gavin Floyd, who will make $7 million at the same stage in his career next year. So it still paid for Danks to avoid signing the extension Floyd did.
No. 6: I do wonder if this will make Danks more reluctant to agree to an extension (if, you know, Jordan Danks' progress isn't the primary catalyst in his decision-making process). He had already battled the worst stretch of his post-rookie career, and now he has his first-ever DL stint going against him. If he doesn't come back with a vengeance, I wonder if he'll just wait for a year.
No. 7: Mark Buehrle signed away his first free-agent year during the then-worst period of his career, but it seems like Buehrle is wired differently.
No. 8: It might behoove Danks to watch Edwin Jackson in the winter. Danks has been the superior pitcher over their respective careers, and he should be well aware of it. If Scott Boras can find that one team to outbid for Jackson by $10 million among a free agent pool that's short on top-flight pitching, I wonder if Danks will look at any Sox offer and think, "I can do better than this." Danks used to have Boras as his agent -- he and his brother both dumped him after the Sox drafted Jordan so he could sign with the Sox with only a limited hassle -- but he might still have those high expectations for his earning potential.
No. 9: In the interim, it's a good time for Floyd to get his act together. His regularly scheduled disheartening month is taking place two months later than usual, and he's had problems with the big inning.
No. 10: I thought that Floyd might be better off with Ramon Castro catching him, because in terms of baserunners, the numbers are favorable:
- With Castro: Five starts, three steals.
- With Pierzynski: 11 starts, 13 steals.
But Floyd has a 3.66 ERA in the games Pierzynski starts, and a 5.70 ERA when Castro is behind the plate. Sample size, I know, but I thought there might have been a shortcut for slight improvement buried in his numbers. Like everything else this season, easy answers are in short supply.