John Danks release and what it means for White Sox

It appears that John Danks’ time as a member of the White Sox has come to an end.  According to the Sox beat writers, the left-hander will be designated for assignment later this week.  Before we get into what this move means for the White Sox and who is in line to replace him, we should look back at Danks’ time with the Sox.

According to the White Sox beat writers, the left-hander will be designated for assignment later this week.  Before we get into what this move means for the White Sox and who is in line to replace him, we should look back at Danks’ time with the Sox.

Before we get into what this move means for the White Sox and who is in line to replace him, we should look back at Danks’ time with the Sox.

Danks spent parts of 10 seasons pitching for the White Sox.  He made 247 starts, placing him just outside of the top-10 in team history, and posted a 79-104 record.

He will best be remembered for his performance in the one game playoff “Blackout Game” in 2008.  With the Sox playing their third must-win game in three days against three different teams, Danks was pressed into duty against the hated Twins.  He responded with eight masterful innings of shutout ball with the Sox clinging to the narrowest of leads.  Bobby Jenks would come on for the final three outs, but the story of the game was Danks.

The flip side of the coin for Danks’ Sox legacy will, unfortunately, be the last couple of seasons.  Danks signed a big contract, and then suffered a shoulder injury that derailed his career.  In the last four

Danks signed a big contract, and then suffered a shoulder injury that derailed his career.  In the last four seasons post-injury Danks is 22-44 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.404 WHIP.  His velocity never returned to him and he was no longer the pitcher he was.

Because of that, the White Sox have decided to pull the plug.  It is a very interesting decision by the Sox because it tells me that they recognize themselves as serious contenders, and don’t believe they can continue to give games away by letting Danks take the ball every fifth day.

It also goes against several of the traditional narratives of the White Sox front office, including their loyalty to a fault and their inability to bite the financial bullet.  Danks was also a very respected and well-liked person in the clubhouse, and one of Chris Sale’s closest friends on the team.  For all these reasons it was going to be a tough call to cut ties with Danks, and yet here we are.

erik-johnson-chicago-white-soxSo now we must look forward and think about replacing Danks.  The first man up for the job appears to be Erik Johnson, who will get the start against Boston on Thursday.  Johnson was called up earlier this year to be the emergency long man in the bullpen, but never got into a game.

Johnson has started four games in AAA Charlotte and is 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.385 WHIP.  Johnson seemed to have a good shot to start the year with the Sox before the Mat Latos signing, and then fell out of the picture after a brutal spring training.

Miguel Gonzalez is another option the Sox brought on recently, and made a spot start against Toronto on the Sox last road trip.  The start didn’t go great, with Gonzalez getting tagged for five runs in 5.1 innings.   He has been solid in three starts at Charlotte though, posting a 1-0 record with a 2.38 ERA and a 0.882 WHIP.  Gonzalez was hit in the face with a line drive in his last start, but checked out okay.  He’s made 96 MLB starts in his career so he is certainly the most experienced of the options.

Another in-house option for the Sox is Jacob Turner, who was signed back in the off-season.  Turner was also hoping to earn a spot in the rotation or out of the pen in spring training but, like Johnson, struggled in Arizona and was optioned to AAA.

Down in Charlotte, Turner has been very good.  He is 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA in five starts.  He is striking out 9.1 batters per nine innings while allowing only 7.1 hits per nine.  Walks continue to be an issue though, as he has issued 12 free passes in 26.2 innings.  As far as pure “stuff” goes, Turner has the best of the three in-house options.

Another interesting name to consider is Tim Lincecum.  The former Giants pitcher and two-time Cy Young Award winner is holding a showcase this week and according to Jon Heyman, the White Sox will have someone in attendance.

Lincecum was 7-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts for the Giants last year, and while he isn’t the pitcher he once was, he could still be a very solid addition.  The big question with him will be what he is looking for money-wise.  With the Sox picking up the rest of Danks’ $15.75 million price tag, I wouldn’t expect them to want to commit much more to the fifth starter spot.

One thing seems certain though and that is the Sox fancy themselves as contenders.  And it appears that they will do whatever they can to try and better themselves going forward.  For now that means releasing John Danks, what it means in the future in terms of additions, we will have to wait and see.

Matt Hoeppner

Born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. Graduate of Michigan State University's J-School. Fourth generation Sox fan. Pitch F/X and Statcast operator in Detroit and occasional play-by-play announcer for Michigan Regional Sports Network.

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