UPDATE – John Danks has been shut down for the year. Dylan Axelrod is now expected to be Wednesday’s White Sox starter.
Since every game matters, I’m going to treat the final six games of the Tribe’s season like the playoffs (hopefully as a warm up for the real deal).
So here’s the scouting report on the White Sox projected starters for the two-game series this week.
Tuesday – Hector Santiago (lefty)
- Santiago began the 2012 season as the White Sox closer, failed miserably and lost the job before the end of April.
- Late in the 2012 season, the White Sox converted Santiago, who spent most of his minor league career in the bullpen also, back into a starter.
- He’s gone 4-7 with a 3.47 ERA in 22 starts this season.
- Santiago has struggled in four starts against the Indians, posting a 5.94 ERA. However, he did toss seven shutout innings in Cleveland late last season.
- He’s been tough against lefties since the All-Star Break, allowing just a .203 BA and a .230 Slugging Percentage.
- Santiago owns one of the nastiest fastballs in the game. Hitters whiff at his fastball on 27.5 percent of swings, tops among all starting pitchers this season.
- Santiago throws a changeup, which he throws 21 percent of the time, and occasionally mixes in a slider, cutter and even a screwball.
Wednesday – John Danks (lefty) The Indians know Danks well, and are 11-7 in games which he starts. However, Danks has fared well at Progressive Field, going 4-3 with a 3.58 ERA in 10 starts. It’s been a rough season for Danks, and he’s really struggling right now. He’s pitched into the 8th inning just once since the All-Star break and is 0-4 with an 8.02 ERA in his last four starts. Danks relies heavily on the fastball-changeup combination, but mixes in a curveball and a cutter as well. In recent years, Danks has relied more and more on his offspeed stuff. In 2010, he threw 57 percent fastballs. This year, that number is down to 46 percent. However, the Tribe should still sit on the fastball. Since the All-Star break, opponents are batting .336 against his fastball with 12 home runs in 12 starts. Danks’ biggest issue this year has been in inability to shut down lefties. From 2009 through 2012, he held lefties to a .268 BA. This year, lefties are batting .293. Ryan Raburn should probably be in the starting lineup. He has a .314 career average against Danks, with a 1.099 OPS.
Wednesday – Dylan Axelrod (righty)
- Axelrod is a 28-year-old in his first full season in the majors. He’s a non-prospect and essentially just a roster filler for the Sox at this point.
- This will be Axelrod’s fourth career start against the Tribe and third this season. The Tribe is 2-0 against him this season, although he’s pitched well, allowing just four runs in 12 innings of work.
- Axelrod’s biggest issue is keeping the ball in the park. He’s allowed 23 home runs, 17 of which have come against lefties. Cabrera, Kipnis, Santana and Raburn have all taken him deep this season.
- He was demoted from the rotation in mid-July and didn’t return to the rotation until September 20. He allowed seven runs in two and two-thirds innings against the Tigers.
- His repertoire includes a fastball, change up, curveball and slider and he mixes them up fairly consistently. He throws the fastball just under 50 percent of the time, and uses the slider 29 percent.
- Swisher is 0-11 in his career against Axelrod. 11 at-bats is starting to enter the range of plate appearances where you might wonder if the pitcher simply has a batter’s number. I wouldn’t be opposed to starting Gomes at catcher, Santana at first and Giambi at DH. Swisher could always be used off the bench later in the game.
- Axelrod’s biggest issue has been leaving the ball up in the zone. When he keeps it in the lower third of the zone opponents have just a .388 slugging percentage. In the upper third of the zone, the slugging percentage raises to .639.