Even though the month has 10 days left and the Sox have another homestand during that time, Rick Hahn spoke to the White Sox beat crew to offer a couple hints at what September might hold -- or, in Micah Johnson's case, what might be absent.
The Charlotte Knights placed Johnson on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, which he's been battling in one form or another for most of the season. This swing just happened to be the last straw:
It was originally described as a knee injury, and that description isn't necessarily wrong:
"It turned out that even though the pain was from the front of the leg, it was actually related to the same hamstring strain, so we've elected to shut him down," Hahn said. "He's done for the season. We're going to give the strain 4-6 weeks to heal, and we expect he should be 100 percent and go into next season without restriction."
Answering a question about Johnson's call-up prospects in the last episode of the podcast, I said I had a feeling Johnson wouldn't get much of a look in the majors even if he did get promoted, as he'd been less than 100 percent for almost the whole season, and they'd probably want to give him a break.
The Sox won't really be hurting with Johnson out of the mix, because they'll have plenty of work for Marcus Semien and Carlos Sanchez, assuming Gordon Beckham ever gets out of the way. The writing seems to be on the wall -- his OPS dropped to below .600 after an 0-for-3 night on Tuesday, and Robin Ventura benched him against a lefty on Wednesday -- but then again, the fact that he's carried a sub-.400 OPS since July 1 means he's already weeks into extra time.
Semien and Sanchez seem to be two easy calls for September, and Hahn said anywhere from five to eight players could make the jump for the final month. He maintained his non-committal position on Carlos Rodon (which we discussed on Wednesday), so I'm still guessing he'll take one of those spots.
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Adam Eaton is on track to rejoin the club for the start of next week's homestand, and Robin Ventura made the task at hand sound really simple:
"This is not a guy that's played 10 years, so he's got stuff that he'll learn as he goes along: How important he is to the team to when to run face-first into the wall and when not to when the ball's 10 feet over the fence. So, hopefully, he can learn that."
Eno Sarris is pretty good at talking to players about their approaches, and meshing them with the resulting analytics. In this case, he and Adam Dunn review his changes to his approach over the years, such as swinging early (disaster), going to left field (harder than it sounds), swinging at borderline pitches (counterproductive) and focusing on a zone within the zone (it's stuck).
Well, Nick Swisher's White Sox career no longer represents his worst-ever season. He had both his knees operated on Wednesday, which locks in these unsightly numbers: .208/.278/.331 with just eight homers and 111 strikeouts over 97 games. This could end up being addition by subtraction for Cleveland, which is 7-3 over its last 10 games and trying to make one big push.
One of the reasons Dave Dombrowski made the very confusing Doug Fister trade this past winter was to make room in the rotation for Drew Smyly. Now that Smyly was moved for David Price while Robbie Ray failed his first audition as a starter -- while Fister is 12-3 with a 2.20 ERA for the Nationals -- it makes even less sense.
Joe Posnaski tries to figure out why Dombrowski received such an uninspiring return for a pitcher with Fister's track record. His best guess:
This leads to my guess: I just don’t think the Tigers trusted Fister coming into the season. They have a pitching staff loaded with dazzling stuff and, against that canvas, Fister’s sinkers and sliders just seemed uninteresting to them. This wasn’t only true for the Tigers, by the way. I don’t think many teams around baseball appreciated Fister. I mean Dombrowski’s a smart guy – you know he shopped Fister around, and it seems the Nationals’ uninspiring offer was the best one made.
Think about that for a minute. You would think that teams would be breaking down doors to get at a pitcher with Doug Fister’s production the last three years. I mean, sheesh the Twins gave Ricky Nolasco $50 million, and the Brewers gave Matt Garza $50 million, and the Orioles gave Ubaldo Jiminez $50 million and the Phillies gave A.J. Burnett $16 million for one year,
But Nolasco, Garza, Jiminez, Burnett, they all throw 90-plus. Doug Fister doesn’t.