Felipe Paulino's White Sox career is in jeopardy after four starts, mostly because of his fourth start.
Paulino took a beating from the Texas Rangers on Friday night. He allowed 10 runs on 13 hits over 3⅔ innings, making him the second pitcher in White Sox history to give up that many hits and that many runs without recording at least 12 outs.
The other? Dan Dugan, who gave up 13 runs on 15 hits over 3⅔ innings on June 5, 1929 ... in relief. Eight of those runs came in the final inning, thanks to nine consecutive two-out hits. Dugan couldn't get the last out, and you'll never guess who did:
From The Sporting News on June 13, 1929:
Charley Berry slapped one to left center and just about here Manager Lene Blackburne started warming up in the Chicago dug-out with Catcher Crouse. Some of us thought that this was a joke on Lena's part, but later we found out that as he chucked that ball the short distance permissable (sic) in the cave, he accompanied each throw with plenty of words. Meanwhile, none of the Chisox pitchers volunteered to go out there and throw a life-line to the skidding Mr. Dugan.
After two more hits...
It also gave Blackburne just the hunch he needed to go in there and pitch, which he did. Eight safeties had been registered in a row. The ninth one, which equalled the American League record for consecutive base hits in one inning, was then delivered by Jack Rothrock, a sharp single to right field, after which Jack mercifully was run down trying to run to second on a throw to the plate.
Two runners scored on the Rothrock hit off Blackburne. Lena did not exactly demonstrate that he could keep the rampant, wild Red Sox from hitting or from scoring runs. But he did demonstrate that he could get the side retired and the proved that he was not afraid to step out there on the rubber and do his best, regardless of the situation.
Robin Ventura wasn't nearly as charitable as the man who skippered the Sox some 27 managers ago. After Paulino gave up seven runs on six hits (only five consecutive) in the third inning, Ventura sent him back out there for the fourth.
We've seen this move before, and two came to mind. One was Ventura using Will Ohman for 46 pitches, half of them the inning after he gave up two runs on June 27, 2012. The other -- Ozzie Guillen, with the infamous Arnie Munoz Game on June 19, 2004. Bad news awaited them both after the game, with a DFA for Ohman and a demotion for Munoz. They were essentially used up and discarded.
I had that feeling watching Paulino try everything against the Rangers to no avail in the fourth. After he left the game, a camera cutaway showed Ventura and Don Cooper having a stone-faced conversation in the dugout. If they were in a house, you could imagine Paulino trying to eavesdrop at the top of the stairs.
The Sox didn't have a press release waiting upon completion of the game, but Ventura hinted at action after the game. Combining stories from Daryl Van Schouwen and Dan Hayes to capture all the quotes:
"There are options,’’ Ventura said. "We’ll talk tonight and figure something out. There might be something.’’
"Probably the way our bullpen is, that’s not an option," Ventura said. "I don’t know if that would work for him or not being able to go back out there and figure it out there. We’ll see. We’ll talk to him tonight. ... He had mentioned being sore and things like that. I haven’t talked to him tonight. Maybe that’s it. I don’t know."
Ventura's offhand mention of soreness foreshadows a conveniently timed DL stint. On the other hand, he didn't give him any mercy on the mound:
"Somebody has to kind of buck up and wear it, and that’s where we were,’’ Ventura said. "Sometimes if you get in a mess like that, you’re the guy who has to stay in there and take it. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll see where we’re going after this.’’
Not to mention Paulino kinda blew that alibi, too:
"It’s going to be tough," Paulino said. "I understand my situation right now. After coming in last year and not pitching and a lot of people telling me it’s going to be tough and it’s really happening to me right now. Whatever happens, I’m healthy and I want to compete. I know the thing at some point is going to be on my side."
I don't know if it really matters, though, because this is Paulino's line:
They could probably DL him, and nobody would care enough to call shenanigans. Or they could DFA him and arrange a return to Charlotte. The latter would open up a roster spot, but they do have one opening on the 40-man.
Either way, it looks like the Paulino experiment is at least on ice for a while, which is saying something. Coming off two surgeries and being out of action for most of the last two years, Paulino probably had plenty of leeway. Now, he just deserves plenty of empathy. As a fastball-slider pitcher with a diminished fastball, a crippled slider (he resorted to throwing 20 curveballs on Friday), and no command of anything, he just can't compete in this form, and he's a liability for a fragile bullpen.
Everybody's better off with Paulino getting reps in a low-pressure environment while evaluating the readiness of the extra starters. The Sox do have options, although none are particularly exciting at this point.
Ranking them in order of estimated likelihood:
No. 1: Charlie Leesman
2014 Charlotte: 0-2, 1.59 ERA, 17 IP, 15 H, 2 HR, 6 BB, 11 K, 66% GB
Pros: Already on 40-man; could take Paulino's spot on schedule; survived one start; getting grounders.
Cons: Left-handed; took some beatings last year.
No. 2: Dylan Axelrod
2014 Charlotte: 1-1, 4.50 ERA, 16 IP, 16 H, 2 HR, 4 BB, 20 K, 55% GB
Pros: Most major-league success in Charlotte rotation; could take Paulino's spot on schedule; more strikeouts and grounders than usual; motivated to reprove himself.
Cons: Not on 40-man; known entity who hit a wall Paulino-style last year.
No. 3: Scott Carroll
2014 Charlotte: 3-0, 0.00 ERA, 19 IP, 12 H, 0 HR, 5 BB, 9 K, 63.5% GB
Cons: Not on 40-man; isn't missing bats at Triple-A; unremarkable minor-league history despite being old for every level; would be on super rest (Friday start was rained out).
No. 4: Andre Rienzo
2014 Charlotte: 0-2, 4.85 ERA, 13 H, 15 H, 1 HR, 7 BB, 9 K, 46.7% GB
Pros: Already on 40-man; gave Sox some good starts last year; gives good hugs
Cons: Battling inefficiency problems; left spring training with to-do list and isn't there yet; gave up plenty of homers last year.