Can the Chicago White Sox Continue to Contend in the Face of a Youth Movement?

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IJune 23, 2012

Dylan Axelrod takes to the bump for an injured Phillip Humber Saturday as the White Sox get younger by the day.
Dylan Axelrod takes to the bump for an injured Phillip Humber Saturday as the White Sox get younger by the day.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox are getting younger by the minute. Will this mid-season youth movement allow the White Sox to stay in the AL Central race?

Chicago has been dipping into its prospect pool in the wake of injuries and ineffectiveness by more veteran pieces.

Two moves late this week put that into sharper focus: Kosuke Fukudome was designated for assignment after coming off the disabled list, and Phillip Humber is now on the 15-day DL with an elbow strain.

It comes as little surprise that Chicago is opting to use Jordan Danks as the fourth outfielder. The rookie is batting .385 since coming aboard and is a solid pinch-running and defensive option.

Fukudome couldn't break .200, and Danks is part of the team's future.

Making Humber's scheduled start Saturday nignt is 26-year-old Dylan Axelrod, who starts his second game of the 2012 season. In three appearances, Axelrod is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA.

Can Axelrod effectively replace Humber in the next few turns through the rotation? 

Aside from the perfect game, Humber has been struggling.

It is up to the young, right-handed Axelrod to give the White Sox a chance to win. That means five or six innings of solid work.

Right now, the Chicago offense does not guarantee a lot of run support. With Humber and John Danks on the shelf for now, the starting five is under some pressure.

At this point, it's Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd and three rookies going to the hill for the White Sox. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana have been excellent on the mound. Each pitched eight scoreless innings in his last start, innings that went for naught as Chicago dropped those games in extras.

Even if Floyd has solved a mechanical problem, this is a young, inexperienced rotation that is going to have to hold up under fire.

That looks to be through the All-Star break and possibly a lot longer if Chicago is to hang in the division title race.