Prior to the Rangers’ just-complete series win in the Bronx, the only series the Yankees had lost in the second half came against the White Sox in Chicago. The Sox took three-of-four in that weekend series as July turned to August. The first win came via an unearned run off Andy Pettitte in a 3-2 game. The next two came by a combined score of 24-9 as the Sox tore into Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Coke, who combined to allow 22 of those 24 runs.
Since then, the White Sox have acquired two high-profile players, but have yet to see any benefit from either addition. The first actually occurred on the eve of that last series, when the Sox traded for injured Padres ace Jake Peavy. I analyzed that deal for SI.com:
The White Sox’s trade for Jake Peavy appears on its surface to be a trump card designed to keep them in the division race. It is not that. . . . Peavy is hurt. He tore a tendon in his right ankle in early June, hasn’t pitched since, and isn’t expected back for several of weeks — if at all this season. Certainly the White Sox could benefit from activating Peavy down the stretch if they’re still within striking distance (they’re 2½ games out entering the weekend), and would benefit from his presence in the postseason should they get there. But more likely, the Tigers, with Washburn, are going to win the division.
Indeed, the Sox have since fallen to four games behind the Tigers as Peavy remains on the DL while the Sox have scrambled to fill Clayton Richard’s spot in the rotation. Richards’ spot has come up four times since he was dealt to San Diego in the Peavy deal. The Sox won the first two with spot starters, but have lost the last two behind Freddy Garcia, who will start again on Sunday after Peavy took a liner off his elbow in what was supposed to be his last rehab start.
The other big acquisition was their waiver claim of the Blue Jays’ Alex Rios. The White Sox seemed like one team that could actually benefit from taking on Rios and his contract given their proximity to first place and the .224/.280/.311 line their center fielders had put up prior to Rios’s arrival. However, Rios has started just eight of 13 games in center since joining the Sox, including just three of the last eight and is hitting a mere .200/.213/.333 in that limited time. Rios isn’t helping the White Sox at all, but he’s still going to cost them $59.7 million over the next five years. There’s still a month to go in the season, but Kenny Williams’ claim of the 28-year-old Rios is already looking like a worse move than the contract J.P. Ricciardi signed the 27-year-old Rios too last April.
It will be a great story if Peavy and Rios suddenly emerge to carry the White Sox to the Central title in September, but it ain’t gonna happen. In the meantime, the team the Yankees face this weekend is much the same one they faced at the beginning of the month, minus speedy second baseman Chris Getz, who is out with an oblique strain, and with better work from their bullpen (led by the major’s top set-up man), but weaker work from their rotation.
Tonight’s game pits lefty aces Mark Buehrle and CC Sabathia against each other. The two have had wildly disparate Augusts:
Sabathia: 5-0, 2.65 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 9.40 K/9, 7.8 K/BB, 1.2 HR/9
Buehrle: 0-3, 6.03 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 2.59 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 1.7 HR/9
On top of that, Sabathia and Buehrle have met up ten previous times without Buehrle ever picking up a win. CC is 6-0 in those match-ups.
Jose Molina starts again today as Jorge Posada continues to rest his bruised ring finger. Same lineup as yesterday.
In other news, the Yankees have decided to put Joba Chamberlain back in regular rotation, but to honor his innings limit by taking him out early. Sounds like a move to long relief minus the baggage of the word “bullpen.” This is a viable option because of the team’s lead in the division and rosters expanding on Tuesday, thus deepening the bullpen in support of Joba’s short starts. Given how poorly Joba’s pitched on irregular rest and how well he’s pitched in short stints in the past, this does seem like a better plan, even if it will drive some fans nuts to see Joba repeatedly pulled after five or fewer dominant innings.