According to the team, with John Danks' return to the White Sox for the first time in over a year now official, it'll be Dylan Axelrod staying in the rotation and Hector Santiago headed to help out the team's bullpen. But that shouldn't discourage you die-hard Screwgie fans.
First of all, it's worth noting that a large reason why Danks is returning is because he's healthy and he's able to start 2013 against the lowly Miami Marlins, better known as the worst unanimously worst offense in baseball.
Don't get me wrong, Don Cooper & co. wouldn't bring him back if they weren't confident that he could help the team win ball games, but considering that he really hasn't shown any consistency in spring training or during his rehab assignment, Danks succeeding upon his return is far from guaranteed.
But the only way to judge how his situation plays out is to wait and watch him pitch. So for now, we'll stick to analyzing the other ramifications his return has on our palehose.
Axelrod Sticking Around
Through his first nine games started, 27 year-old Dylan Axelrod is 2-3 with a 4.13 ERA. But he's been much better than those numbers reflect.
Axelrod has pitched well in seven of the nine starts while tossing one mediocre game (5/10 vs. LAA) and getting shelled in his lone poor performance (4/11 @ WSH). I don't care what you say about 'Axe' … that's all you can ask for and much more out of a number five starter that nobody expected too much from.
Although he'd had nothing other than short stints in the majors, it seems his 571.2 IP in the minors had him plenty ready for the big show.
Now that he's on a consistent schedule and has received nothing but endorsements and votes of confidence from his coaching staff, it's reasonable to expect he'll only become more and more comfortable in his role starting games in the back end of the Sox' rotation.
With manager Robin Ventura not interested in going to a six-man rotation, Hector Santiago is the odd man out and will be moved to the bullpen.
Hector has also been great this season, going 1-3 (again, unfairly so) with a superb 2.81 ERA. He's made five starts since the beginning of May and has been superb in three of them. It's clear that going forward in the future with the team, he has great potential as a starting pitcher. But for now, the team feels he's best suited for the 'pen.
Here's what he told team beat writer for MLB.com and friend of the site Scott Merkin about his new role …
I'm a Swiss-army knife. I'm going to be ready for anything and have every role.
Considering he can be stretched out and used as a long reliever or starter when needed in addition to helping out the back-end of the bullpen with his at-times mid-90's fastball and nasty stuff, the Swiss Army Knife sounds like the perfect description to me.
Right now, before Addison Reed, Jesse Crain has been the only consistent guy out of the bullpen, though Matt Thornton has been pretty good, too. But since Donnie Veal all of the sudden not able to pitch his way out of a paper bag (and was again demoted Wednesday), he'll serve a huge role as the team's second (possibly even first) lefty out of the 'pen.
And if Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom can't get it going consistently, you can expect to see Hector's role quickly increase.
Plus, like we said, it's nice knowing that we have Hector available to make a start if somebody struggles or goes down. At this point, I'd say the team's rotation is in a very good place.