Welcome to the deep end, Dylan Axelrod.
Though it might be already be too late for the 31-42 Chicago White Sox to salvage what is looking more and more like another lost season, now might just be make-or-break time for Axelrod to really show whether he can be a viable starter, both with the team and in the big leagues.
The road in 2013 was not always smooth for the righty, but he’d shown plenty of promise regardless, holding a 3.73/1.27 ERA/WHIP through his first 12 starts with six of them being of the quality variety.
Since then, though, he’s hit no so much of a speed bump so much as a wall.
Including Sunday’s disappointing turn against the divisional rival Kansas City Royals, Axelrod has allowed at least four runs in each of his last three starts; to make matters worse, he’s successfully pitched out of the fifth inning just once in that span. Considering that he’s taken no-decisions in every start he’s made in June, you might even say he should consider himself lucky.
At least, that would be the case if he wasn’t getting hammered anyway. With a .386 BAA for the month, it’s not much of a surprise that the 27-year old is holding a 6.30/2.25 ERA/WHIP over his last 20 innings. In fact, his 4.2 IP start on Sunday was the second time this season that he’s allowed 10 hits in a start.
The first time? Just one start prior.
More troubling than the season-high 21.3 percent line drives he’s giving up, though, is his inability to keep the ball in the park. This was also a bit of an issue for him in 2012 as he’d allowed long balls at a 1.41 HR/9 rate, and while it looked like he’d made some improvements in that department through April to the first start in June (0.90 HR/9 through first 70 IP), it’s gone south in a hurry.
With six home runs allowed over his last three starts (that’s just one less than what he allowed in his first 12 and good for a 3.80 HR/9 over his last 14.2 IP … in case you were keeping score), Axelrod has made a very swift regression to his uneven form in 2012 rather than take a step forward.
Now that he’s just about hit rock bottom, how will he respond to adversity? In short, it’s sink-or-swim time.