Since starting the season 2-2 in his first four starts, Chicago White Sox veteran starter John Danks has gone 1-4, dropping his last two consecutive starts and contributing to his team’s recent slide.
In his most recent start against the Houston Astros Danks lasted a season-low 4.2 innings and gave up eight runs, seven earned, on 10 hits. Struggling with his location, Danks left a lot of changeups up in the zone to Astros’ hitters. This resulted in three home runs, including two to third baseman Matt Dominguez, who became the first Astro to hit multiple home runs in a single game this season.
The rough outing for Danks came one day after Hector Noesi had another bad start in the second game of the series against the Astros. In the absence of ace Chris Sale, who is making progress but remains on the DL with a left forearm strain, the rotating pieces of the White Sox’ rotation have for the most part struggled across the board. Given that Sale isn’t expected to return until later this month, it’s especially important that the rest of the rotation pick up the slack left behind by the ace’s absence.
As one of the longer tenured White Sox pitchers, a solid part of this responsibility falls on Danks’ shoulders. Danks can and has dominated opponents this season, but needs to regain that winning form to boost the White Sox, who lack any kind of momentum. The White Sox are 3-6 in their last three series, including losing two series to the two worst teams in baseball, and their recent performance caused them to sink down from second to fourth in the AL Central.
Danks’ last two starts have had some upside for the White Sox in the performance of his batterymate, rookie backup catcher Adrian Nieto. Nieto continues to use his few starts to prove he deserves to stay on the team. A Rule 5 draftee who needs to stay on the White Sox’ roster for the entire season in order to stay under the team’s control, Nieto is 4-for-6 in his last two starts, and against the Astros he was the only White Sox batter with multiple hits, raising his season batting average to .324 in the process.