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Streaking & Slumping: April Showers for Tyler Flowers

Here's a look at who's hot and who's not throughout the past week of Chicago White Sox baseball …

Streaking

Addison Reed: A lot of people had question marks about Addison Reed’s ability to be the White Sox closer of the future.  After a month of the season, Reed is doing his best to put those thoughts to rest.  Reed is 8-for-8 in save opportunities and has also picked up a win.

He has only allowed a single run in two of his eleven appearances this season.  Last week Reed picked up three saves, striking out six hitters over four innings.  He did allow a run in his last outing but was able to hold on for the one run victory.

As Robin Ventura says, “closer is a pass/fail position,” and Reed has passed all eight tests this year.

Conor Gillaspie: After a hot start Gillaspie cooled off a little bit on the road trip, going without a hit for 5 straight games.  However in the last six games Conor is hitting .333 with 2 homers, 4 RBI, 4 BB’s and 2 runs scored.

His OPS is at 1.101 over that stretch and he is hitting at .400 on balls in play.

Overall this season Gillaspie has done very well when he puts the ball in play hitting at .390.  He has provided a steady glove at third base as well, although he did commit an error on Sunday, he made up for it with a great diving play later in the game.

With all the injuries the Sox have had on the infield, Gillaspie’s production has been huge and the fact that he is a left handed bat could earn him a permanent spot in the lineup.

Adam Dunn: I know, I know, Dunn is still hitting just .143 on the season but he has raised his average 40 points over the last 4 games.

Surprisingly, Dunn got back on track against one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.  Dunn was 5-for-14 (.357) in the Rays series with 2 homers, 5 RBI, 3 runs scored and 3 walks.  He struck out just twice in four games and his BAbip was .300, almost 200 points higher than his season BAbip coming in.

Dunn beat the shift on a couple of occasions and also took the ball back up the middle and the other way. If Dunn can come around and be a legit threat in the middle of the Sox order, the offense should start to come around.

Slumping

Tyler Flowers: Last week Flowers (pictured above, H/T Yahoo! Sports) started 5 of the 7 games the White Sox played and came in late in one other game.  He went to the plate 17 times and reached base twice, once on a walk and once with a single. 

He struck out 7 of the 16 official at bats he had (44%).  In two starts last week and Hector Gimenez had 6 plate appearances, he reached base in 4 of them including a double and a home run.  He drove in 2 runs, scored a run, drew a walk and was hit by a pitch.  He struck out once.

To sum up: Gimenez was vastly more productive in 6 plate appearances than Flowers was in 17.  Tyler needs to get it going, and soon.  In addition to his struggles at the plate Flowers has thrown out just 3 of 16 potential base stealers.

That is just 16% and 10 points below his career average.  He has also given up 2 passed balls and allowed 6 wild pitches.  While he can’t take the blame for all of the wild pitches, there have been a couple that I thought he could have stopped.

Most fans weren’t on the Tyler bandwagon to begin the season and other than the first series, he hasn’t done much to give them a reason to hop aboard. 

Gavin Floyd: A trip to the DL is just the latest sour note for Gavin Floyd, who has gotten off to a terrible start even before the injury.  Floyd is 0-4 with a 5.18 ERA and has lost every game he has started except for one.  It has been rough for Floyd all year with opponents hitting .287 overall and .343 on balls in play.

He hasn’t been able to work deeper than 6 innings in any of his starts and now has to deal with the injury.  While the Sox still believe Floyd is a part of their starting rotation, I am not so sure he gets his old job back.  Many Sox fans wanted Hector Santiago to be a part of the rotation after last season and he will get the shot with Floyd on the shelf.

John Danks is scheduled to make a rehab start this week for AA Birmingham so he could be on his way back to the big club sooner rather than later.

Dylan Axelrod has done a fine job as the 5th starter too.  If Santiago pitches well and Danks comes back I don’t think there will be a lot of Sox fans who will be ready to give Gavin his old spot back in the rotation if he gets healthy.  This trip to the DL could be the end of his days in the Sox rotation.

All Around Defense: One of the most surprising and disappointing trends of the season thus far has been the White Sox poor defensive play.

Considering the Sox led the American League in fielding last year and allowed the fewest unearned runs in the majors, this start is a bit of a shocker.  The White Sox have committed 16 errors, the second most in the American League.  These errors have led to 11 unearned runs, with 9 of those coming in 14 games at home.

Last week the White Sox played 6 games, of those six they committed errors in 3 of them and lost all three.  They committed 4 errors in those 3 losses and gave up 4 unearned runs as a result.

While it may not have directly affected the outcome in two of those games, they did lose a one run game to the Indians as a direct result of an error.  For a team that isn’t consistently scoring runs and doesn’t have a huge margin for error, defense is very important.  The White Sox cannot afford to give teams free runs because they just haven’t been hitting enough to cancel it out.

The defense must improve …

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