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John Danks Injury: Chicago White Sox Lose Flexibility with Danks out Long-Term

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 03: John Danks #50 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Cleveland Indians on May 3, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images
Tom FirmeAnalyst IIJune 19, 2012

John Danks didn't seem like he would be back from his shoulder injury soon before his MRI on Monday. Now, he'll definitely be out for the long run. The Chicago White Sox ace turned out to have a muscle tear in his shoulder, according to the Chicago Tribune. This puts a great strain on the White Sox rotation.

Some might point to his value to the rotation due to his reputed ability. He pitched at least 195 innings while posting ERAs under 4.00 from 2008 to 2010. He had progressively improved his control in 2010 and 2011, lowering his walks-per-nine-innings rate from 3.3 in 2009 to 3.0 in 2010 and 2.4 in 2011.

However, the biggest loss for the White Sox is the depth and flexibility they would have if Danks were healthy. Danks wasn't doing well before he became injured, holding a 5.32 ERA and averaging 5.9 innings per start.

The White Sox might not have been able to count on him rebounding to pre-2011 form, but they could have at least depended upon him to be as good as he was last year. His 4.33 ERA, low walk rate and 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings were far better than what Phil Humber has given them.

Humber currently has a 6.01 ERA and has allowed 3.9 walks per nine innings.

Also, the White Sox could have tried to trade Humber and maintained depth in the rotation with Danks healthy. By trading Humber, they would be ridding themselves of a pitcher who is pitching poorly in his last year before becoming arbitration-eligible.

If Humber were traded, then Jose Quintana would be free to take the spot in the rotation that he's earned.

With Danks out indefinitely, the White Sox may need to keep Humber and sacrifice the opportunity to get the extra help they might get if they were to trade him. If another starting pitcher gets injured, then the White Sox pitching staff may be stretched, especially if Nestor Molina isn't ready to come up and start his Major League career.

Don Cooper wouldn't want to be pulling Zach Stewart and Dylan Axelrod out all the time, considering each one is limited in talent.

The White Sox may miss Danks' pitching ability. But they'll be more pressed with the lost luxury of pitching depth that they had with him healthy. Whether it affects them down the run will be interesting to see, especially if Chris Sale or Jake Peavy needs rest.

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