The recent closer struggles have fostered a greater appreciation for Addison Reed, and the departure of Addison Reed puts Matt Davidson under the microscope.
Davidson's White Sox career got off to a horrendous start. He hit just .167/.240/.300 with 40 strikeouts over 100 plate appearances, then missed several games at the start of May with a hand injury.
There are signs that he's starting to come around. Over his last 13 games -- all since the layoff -- he's hitting .292/.333/.521. He's hit three homers over that stretch, including this one on Sunday:
More importantly, he's struck out a more respectable 13 times over 51 plate appearances, and has avoided striking out in six of those 13 games. That's a massive improvement over his April, when he struck out at least once in 22 straight games. He said during spring training that his strikeouts tend to come in bunches, and he crunched a whole bunch in one big month.
He's still not over the Mendoza Line (.196/.256/.366), and the timing of his slump makes it a bit more difficult than usual.
"I've hit .180 before in a month," [Davidson] said. "If you do it the first month, though, that's all you see. When you're hitting .300 before the month, it's not so bad. Just try to turn it around the remaining months of the season and nobody will even remember this."
But Rick Hahn is willing to write it off, at least partially, as a spring training hangover:
"It's not entirely rare where you see a guy who performs really well in the spring gets off to a poor start at his minor league affiliate," Hahn said. "Matt wasn't quite where he was when he left camp, from a timing standpoint, offensively. We've been real pleased with the defense, but (not his offense) in the early part of the minor league season."
And Charlotte hitting coach Andy Tomberlin sees better days ahead:
"He's smart enough to know that it's OK and he's gonna do fine and its just gonna get started here this week and I guarantee he's going to turn it around," Tomberlin said.
Just to be clear. A guarantee?
"Ooh, yeah," he said. "He's gonna figure it out no matter where he is, I'll agree with that. He's a survivor. These are guys … I just don't see him satisfied with failure. He's gonna work and find his way.
"You hit me on that guarantee, I know. But that's what I feel. When I say guarantee, ain't nothing guaranteed, but when you believe it, you got half of it done."
Sunday's box scores will appear in the comment shortly.