The White Sox won’t be easing Gavin Floyd back into the rotation in his return from a sore elbow; he’ll start Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series against the rival Tigers.
The change pushes Francisco Liriano back to Friday, when he’ll face the Twins. By making the move, the White Sox are essentially saying they have more faith in Floyd right now, even though he won one of his last six starts before going on the DL.
The respective records of each against the Tigers certainly played a role in the White Sox’s thinking here. Floyd has faced Detroit twice this season and gone 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA. Last year, he was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts against them.
Liriano, on the other hand, has given up seven runs and walked nine in 7 1/3 innings versus Detroit this year. He was 1-2 with a 10.32 ERA against them last year.
The White Sox are currently two games up on the Tigers in advance of the series opener tonight. It looks like they’re battling for one postseason spot right now, given that there are a combined six teams with better records than either in the AL East and West.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.