Tuesday night, John Danks tossed his best ball game in quite some time, leading the White Sox to their tenth win in their past 15 contests. He threw strikes and really hit his spots in doing so, dominating the pesky Royals over eight shutout innings.
Danks tossed eight innings of seven-hit, one-walk baseball while fanning two KC hitters. It was surprising to see him pitch to contact that much but have so much success, especially when you consider how much the long ball has been his bugaboo in 2013. But I guess it just goes to show how close he is to being near the Danks of old when he keeps it in the yard. After all, his season ERA lowered to a very respectable 4.22 in his third win (to ten losses) on the year.
Like we saw with Jake Peavy a few years back, it can sometimes just take someone returning from an injury awhile to get his confidence, skill set, and strength totally back. But is Johnny really that far from being back to a very solid middle-of-the-rotation hurler?
There are definitely some statistics you can look at that’d suggest he indeed is not too far away.
Going back to the strength thing – it already shouldn’t be in too much question for Danks. His shoulder seems to be just fine, as he’s averaged 6 ½ IP per start, just a smidgen worse than his career best 6 2/3 IP/start in 2010.
But as we mentioned, Danks has struggled big-time with the long ball. He’s let up 22 of them in just 103 IP, or about 1.89/9.0 IP. That number is well higher than the 0.90/9.0 IP he yielded throughout 2010, ’11, and ’12.
He’s currently (8/20) sporting a 1.17 WHIP, substantially better than his career 1.30 mark and single-season high of 1.22 (2010) thanks large-in-part to his reduced BB’s. So I feel pretty confident in saying that he actually would be the Danks of-old if he cut out say about ten of the 22 HR’s he’s let up.
Barring any deals, it seems that youngsters Chris Sale, Hector Santiago, Jose Quintana, and probably even Erik Johnson or Andre Rienzo have four of the five rotation slots locked up for the 2014 White Sox. You've got to figure that Danks will have a job too, though.
Sure, he probably will never be worth the $30M he'll be getting in 2014 and '15 (combined), but as the grinder and effective innings-eater that he is, he will definitely be a valuable asset for the White Sox. Let’s just say that the White Sox aren’t in contention next year and they decide to put Danks on the trade market. If it weren’t for his contract, a good portion of the contenders around major league baseball would probably pursue him. And since the payroll on the south side will be pretty low next year, they may be able to eat up a big chunk of the remaining money owed to him.
But on the Sox or shipped away, he’ll definitely be a valuable piece in the middle or back-end of a rotation.