The Chicago White Sox will send Dylan Axelrod to the mound Wednesday night in an attempt to do what their most productive starter could not. As we near the end of August, the starting rotation is undergoing yet another trial in Chicago's push for an AL Central title.
Chris Sale suffered through his shortest starting outing of the year Tuesday, giving up four runs in four innings. The Orioles touched him up for three runs in the second on the way to handing the White Sox a 6-0 defeat.
Though Chicago still owns a two-game lead on the Tigers, the White Sox are in need of getting their ducks in a row in terms of their starters before heading to Detroit for a key three-game set. Just who is pitching when is a bit up in the air due to two recent moves.
Gavin Floyd was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday, with soreness in his elbow (per ESPNChicago.com). Floyd was removed from Sunday's start against the Mariners. The move allowed the White Sox to promote Axelrod from Triple-A Charlotte for the third time in 2012.
Since being sent down back in late July, Axelrod has gone 2-1 for the Knights with a 2.17 ERA. He is 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in Chicago in 10 appearances, including six starts. His last start was in Boston on July 16, where he allowed just a single run in 6.2 innings despite the White Sox losing that game 5-1.
The other move involves Jake Peavy, who was in line to take the ball Wednesday night. Peavy will be starting the series opener in Detroit on Friday. Moving the veteran of the staff into a big-game situation should be viewed as a positive move, but it casts a few questions in the next few days.
Jose Quintana will go in Baltimore on Thursday before Peavy kicks off the Tigers series. From there, there are no announced starters on the White Sox website as of Wednesday morning.
Sale would seem the likely foe for Justin Verlander on Sunday in a nationally televised head-to-head matchup, as it would be his natural turn in the rotation. The question is whether the team will let him take that turn or react to a poor outing by resting him.
Philip Humber tossed four innings in relief of Sale on Tuesday. Both he and Hector Santiago have thrown long relief stints in the last few days. You have to figure that one of them will be starting for Chicago on Saturday night.
Depending on how the White Sox handle Sale, you may see the other Sunday.
Personally, I'd like to see how Sale rebounds in a battle with the Tigers' ace. I'm sure ESPN would also like that matchup for its telecast. However, Chicago may choose to give its prize left-hander an extra day or two of rest as it just has with Peavy.
With Floyd out for at least the next two weeks, the White Sox need to quickly set a rotation entering the most crucial stretch of the season.