Chicago White Sox: Kenny Williams' Pitching Staff Dilemma

Matthew Smith@@MatthewSmithBRCorrespondent IIIJuly 17, 2012

Along with Jake Peavy, Chris Sale has been a constant for the White Sox.
Along with Jake Peavy, Chris Sale has been a constant for the White Sox.Brian Kersey/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox and general manager Kenny Williams are in a bit of a jam with the pitching staff.

Let’s look at the pitching situation as it stands heading into a Tuesday night matchup with the Boston Red Sox:

  • The Sox are expected to use their 10th starting pitcher Wednesday night.  According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, lefty Pedro Hernandez, 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA in the minors, will get the call.
  • Hernandez would be promoted because right-hander Gavin Floyd appears headed for the disabled list, the third starter this season to do so.
  • As is stands, Matt Thornton, on pace for a record number of appearances, is the only veteran in the bullpen until Jesse Crain comes back.  The limitations this puts on the coaching staff were on full display Monday night in Boston when Leyson Septimo was left in to start the eighth and promptly walked two before serving up a three-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez.
  • The only starter that has not missed a scheduled appearance is Jake Peavy.  That is amazing considering his injury history and the questions concerning him coming out of spring training.
  • Philip Humber, who is wildly inconsistent at best, is now the third starter.  Let’s not forget, he had to fight to win the fifth spot during spring training.
  • Left-hander John Danks said that he feels “giddy” because he was able to throw a baseball 90 feet for the first time in two weeks.  While that is good to hear, it means that he is still a long way from returning to the rotation. 

Not an enviable position to say the least.

So, the question for Williams is now two-fold.  First, do the White Sox need a starter, or is a reliever going to more of an impact on the team?  Second, if starting pitching is deemed more important, which of the rookie relievers are you willing to give up, making the bullpen that much less experienced? reported Monday that the Sox are showing interest in Milwaukee Brewers' starting pitcher Zack Greinke.

Phil Rogers in the Tribune cited the need for a reliever, mentioning Matt Capps, Jonathan Broxton and Luke Gregerson as potential deadline targets for Williams.

There is no doubt the Sox need help in both their rotation and the bullpen. 

Even if the starting five were all healthy, Williams would need to find a starter because of Floyd’s and Humber’s inconsistencies and, for as good as the rookies have been, a veteran arm in the bullpen is a must have as August approaches.

One route Williams could take is to trade Nestor Molina and/or Dylan Axelrod along with a minor league infielder for a No. 4 or 5 starter, put Humber in the pen and pick up a reliever via the waiver-wire after the deadline. 

Win. Win. Win.

Another possibility is to trade a veteran starter like Philip Humber, who has some time left on his contract, along with a rookie reliever for a big-name bullpen veteran entering free-agency and a catching prospect, while inserting Axelrod into the rotation on a permanent basis.

Crain, Capps, and Thornton, for example, would be a formidable threesome in the bullpen and provide some protection for an overused or inexperienced starting rotation.

Something needs to get done very soon.  What direction Williams takes is the question-of-the-day for the White Sox, and if he can get both areas addressed prior to the deadline, he will.

After all, there are options.