Chicago White Sox left-hander John Danks has run out of time in Glendale. According to ESPN, the White Sox have shut Danks down, and he will open the season on the disabled list. It is a move that is in the best interests of both Danks, and the White Sox.
Who should replace Danks, though?
CSNChicago.com’s White Sox Insider Dan Hayes tweeted this following Wednesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks:
Dan Hayes @CSNHayes
As for whom will take the No. 5 spot to start instead of John Danks, smart money is on Dylan Axelrod. #WhiteSox2013-3-20 23:07:55
Not so fast, Dan. What about Hector Santiago?
Santiago—who has a 4.50 ERA in 8.0 innings this spring—has the makings of a legitimate starter. Last season, he went 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA and a 1.190 WHIP over the course of four starts.
As I wrote some time ago, Santiago has better stuff than Jose Quintana, let alone Axelrod. He has better command of his sinker and split-finger fastball and averages 92.8 mph on his fastball. Sprinkle in a healthy dose of his nearly untouchable screwball, and Santiago may even be an upgrade over a healthy Danks.
To be sure, Dylan Axelrod—2-0 with a 2.45 ERA going into Wednesday’s action—is no slouch.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper pushed Axelrod up a day in order for him to pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He responded with two scoreless innings and two Ks in relief of Gavin Floyd before running into trouble in the eighth inning. It is a continuation of what has been a very nice spring for him.
And like Santiago, Axelrod was called upon to be a spot starter in 2012. Most notably, he held a potent Baltimore Orioles lineup at bay while allowing only one run in 7.1 innings during the thick of the pennant race.
No doubt, Axelrod can pitch.
After all of that, though, Santiago needs to be the one to assume Danks’s spot in the rotation. He is simply a better pitcher.
It must be noted that the move would impact who opens the season as the left-handers in the bullpen, but the Sox have options in the minors—Santos Rodriguez, for example.
Ventura did leave the door open that someone other than Axelrod could open the season in the rotation. WhiteSox.com beat writer Scott Merkin noted that:
Scott Merkin @scottmerkin
Ventura said still time to figure out who could go in that fifth slot, but figure on Axelrod barring major change2013-3-20 23:12:08
Let’s hope something “major” happens.
Santiago is a better fit in the rotation for the White Sox.
*Statistics courtesy of BaseballReference.com