The Chicago White Sox have pitching needs that should be addressed before the trade deadline. However, perhaps the larger concern lies in the heart of the batting order.
Chicago's 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers Friday night cast the drought of the White Sox third and fourth hitters into full display. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko both went 0-for-4 for the evening. Dunn left two runners on base. Konerko was robbed of extra bases by Quintin Berry to end the game.
No matter how you slice it, the two are scuffling right now.
It's been feast or famine for Dunn over the last few weeks. Since June 1, he has 25 hits in 41 games. Twelve of those went over the wall. Dunn put together an impressive series against the Royals last weekend, homering in all three games. Since then, his bat has been pretty silent.
Dunn has just one hit in his last 19 at-bats. Chicago has lost four of their last five and have seen their lead over the Tigers shrink to a half game.
Konerko has had his own struggles, which compounds the effects of Dunn's slumping. Konerko is hitting .245 since the beginning of June. More problematic is the almost complete lack of power in his bat.
Konerko has just six extra base hits since June 1. Through 15 games in July, he has one double, no home runs and four runs batted in. Konerko's July slugging percentage is .268.
Should Robin Ventura shuffle the middle of his lineup?
Back in May, this combination was among baseball's most potent duos. At this point, Dunn is having problems making contact and Konerko has no bite at the plate.
The players who precede and follow Dunn and Konerko have kept the White Sox afloat offensively. Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rios are hitting a combined .342 this month. Youkilis has 15 July RBI and Rios has knocked in 11 runs. Compare that to the 11 RBI combined from Dunn and Konerko in July.
As we near the end of July and the real start of the division race, Chicago is in need of a second wind from the heart of the lineup. Konerko is a .305 hitter in August over his long career. August and September have been Dunn's least productive months.
Should we expect the huge spring numbers Dunn and Konerko put up in the first two months? That pace may be hard to replicate. However, the White Sox need a little bounce back from the two veteran sluggers to stay in the thick of the AL Central.