Chris Sale to Close; Dylan Axelrod to the Starting Rotation

Just when it looked like the Chicago White Sox had an ace in the hole with Chris Sale, it’s ripped from their hands as the young southpaw will return to the bullpen starting Monday. All I have to say is…. crap. This really stinks. I have been high on Sale all winter, thinking he would be totally fine starting. But from what pitching coach Don Cooper said, my high is now crashing back down to earth.

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This is basically the nice way of saying he can’t handle the workload as a starting pitcher. Given Chris Sale’s body make-up and delivery, it’s not that surprising he can’t handle the switch, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less, especially since he has been doing so well. In five starts this year, Sale has a 3-1 record, a 2.81 ERA, and has a K/9 of 8.2.

Dylan Axelrod is taking Chris Sale’s spot in the rotation. The 26-year old right-hander started three games for the White Sox last year, winning one of them. He was called up a little bit ago when Jesse Crain was put on the DL – but prior to that – Axelrod dominated in Triple-A Charlotte. In four starts, he had an ERA of 1.08 while striking out more than a batter an inning.

Even if Axelrod works out, it really stinks Chris Sale isn’t going to make it as a starting pitcher. I’m giving up on him already if Cooper is dropping quotes like that. The dreaded “tender elbow” is similar to the “shoulder discomfort” that Mark Prior had seemingly every year in his career. If Billy Pierce complained about general soreness back in the 50s, he wouldn’t have been moved to the bullpen, he just would have thrown 200 innings instead of 250. But given this picture, the infamous “inverted W” is clearly illustrated.

Seriously, the babying of pitchers in this era is some of the most aggrevating stuff I’ve had to deal with as a baseball fan. I’m not trying to trash Chris Sale because I love him and think he is a fantastic pitcher, but I just want to know what a “tender elbow” means. Whatever. What’s done is done. The Chicago White Sox will be without their best starting pitcher – that’s right I said it – because he has a tender elbow. Can anything go the White Sox way? Cripes!

The bullpen is now stacked with lefties and no righties to speak of, which could be bad news when they face the likes of Miguel Cabrera and what not.

Panicking aside, I hope Sale is able to return to the rotation because his value as a starting pitchers exceeds his value as a reliever. So rest up, Chris. We need you.

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