Levine: Ventura Faces Tough Choices In Close Games
By Bruce Levine –
CHICAGO (CBS) – The resurgence of John Danks has been a nice story in this retooling season for the White Sox.
One of the best liked and most respected pitchers on the team, Danks has come back from a 2012 shoulder surgery in a big way — a surgery to arthroscopically repair a capsular tear that has only been performed three times with any success. After losing 14 games in 2013, Danks has reinvented his pitching style and rebuilt his confidence as a pitcher.
Coming into the league throwing 94 mph, Danks initially lost eight mph on his heater after surgery before gaining some semblance of arm strength in 2013.
The Texas native was so bad in the spring of 2013 that he failed to make the Opening Day roster. A career in limbo has been rekindled by hard work and the special tutoring of pitching coach Don Cooper, the White Sox medical corps and a little luck.
Danks is 7-6 this year after a no-decision Wednesday in which he was left in an eventual 3-2 White Sox win against the Angels for two reasons. First, he had pitched a great game, allowing just one run entering the eighth inning. Danks was taken out after giving up a game-tying home run on his 120th pitch.
Danks deserved the ball. However, a young and flawed Chicago bullpen that lacks a dominant set-up man, left-handed relief specialist and closer was also a big reason Danks was still out there to face Josh Hamilton with two outs and no one on base. One batter earlier, Danks gave up a long fly ball that was caught deep on the warning track off the bat of Albert Pujols. Because Danks had retired Hamilton in his previous three at-bats, Ventura stayed with his man.
This isn’t to say Ventura made a mistake. Contrary to that thinking, he was numbed by the lack of good choices in the situation. No veteran left-handed reliever and no lights-out right-handed flamethrower made Ventura do something he would never have done with a solid bullpen.
There’s no lesson to be learned in this one other than “wear it” and get the pom-pom team out to cheer the team on to victory in the ninth.
Danks deserved to win that game. He, like the rest of the pitchers on the club, know that Ventura’s lack of choices are dictated by the previous bad results in an evolving bullpen.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.