To say 2012 was a disappointment for John Danks would be a massive understatement. After signing a four-year, $56 million extension with the Chicago White Sox during the off-season, everything went downhill for the 27-year old pitcher. Danks only started nine games last season, going 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA, which included a K/9 rate nearly two points off his career average. The last start of Danks’ season was a good one against the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs in May. But he was shut down for the season after that victory, leaving a void in the rotation that was filled nicely by Jose Quintana. Now, after throwing several simulated games and batting practice sessions, John Danks is ready to face an actual team.
Danks will take on the San Francisco Giants on Monday afternoon. Obviously, the Sox will not push Danks in his first start; ergo, he is only expected to throw two innings at most. As Spring Training moves along, Danks’ staminia will be an issue of concern, but the Sox just need to see if he has his good stuff back. The pitch that makes or breaks Johnny Danks is his changeup, which was a pitch that left-handed hitters completely destroyed last season. If Danks has his fastball/cutter working well with his changeup, he is worth every penny of that $56 million extension. However, if that changeup is as flat as it was in 2012, Danks is in the danger zone of become irrelevent.
There is no need to panic if Danks struggles in his first start tomorrow; no one should panic after any Spring Training start. As long as Danks keeps progressing through Spring Training and returns to his old self, things should be looking good on the Southside. The White Sox will need their rotation to carry the way if they want to win the American League Central in 2013, and John Danks is probably the guy who will make or break the success of said rotation.