Is John Danks struggling or just unlucky?
I really expected Chicago White Sox left-hander John Danks to hurl a gem in Anaheim on Tuesday. Perhaps it was wishful thinking since he's on a few of my teams. Regardless, Danks entered with an 0-5 record but was certainly pitching much better than that mark. Danks had a 3.83 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, his strikeout rate remained strong and it was easy to call him one of the better buy-low pitchers in the game. I mean, it's unlikely the White Sox continue on this path to 100 losses, and over the past three seasons Danks has won 40 games with a 3.61 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and an average of 156 strikeouts. This is a good pitcher, certainly worth waiting for in standard leagues.
Of course, after Danks got torched by those Los Angeles Angels and fell to 0-6, I've seen many an owner panic, and I suppose rightfully so. Danks allowed 10 hits and six runs in five messy innings, and much of the sympathy for his unlucky first month is fading away. His ESPN standard league ownership has dropped from its original 100 percent to 86.9 percent, down 9 percent in the past seven days (a decent portion of that since Tuesday night). I'm seeing Danks' name bandied about in trade talks, there's mass Twitter whining, eh, you know the drill.
I'm going to wait for Danks. His track record is strong and my take is unless there's an injury we don't know about -- and during the postgame interview Danks claimed he was healthy, though frustrated and willing to try anything -- he should pitch more to his career norms the rest of the way. That does not mean Danks will pitch like Roy Halladay or Josh Johnson the next month to get his numbers back to normal. Luck doesn't have to even out. It does not mean Danks will win four of his next five outings. It doesn't even mean he turns things around in May. I've just decided eight winless starts -- and he could have won any of his five quality starts with offensive support -- is too small a sample size to cut the ESPN Fantasy preseason No. 33 starting pitcher. It's too early. I can't tell you when it will be time, you have to feel it. It's not like I wait precisely 12 starts or until June 1, some random date. You'll know. I'm waiting.
For Eric's thoughts on other top pitchers with poor win-loss records, like Mat Latos, Ryan Dempster, Madison Bumgarner and Erik Bedard, you must be an ESPN Insider!