According to a report from CBS' Jon Heyman, White Sox' southpaw John Danks will make his long-awaited return Friday against the Miami Marlins.
Danks' last major league start came just over a year ago, when he shut down the crosstown rival Cubs at Wrigley Field. After getting off to a very tough start to the 2012 season, he hurled 6.1 innings of shutout ball before the news broke that he'd be headed to the disabled list.
A couple months after that, he underwent shoulder surgery and was sidelined until this year's spring training. In the spring, it was pretty clear that he was far from himself, as his velocity and control were down and out of whack.
But in his minor league rehab stint with Birmingham and Charlotte, things were a bit better. He made four starts (2-0) and threw 22.1 innings while maintaining a 3.18 ERA. However, he did walk 13 batters in those innings, so the control is still probably the biggest concern area for Danks as he rejoins the big league club.
His most recent start for the Charlotte Knights came this past week when he struggled in Buffalo. He was only able to go 4.1 innings while walking four hitters, hitting two more, and only throwing 51 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
But considering that the White Sox already have five capable starters at the big league level, you have to figure that management wouldn't rush him back unless they really thought he'd help the Chi Sox win some ball games.
It does make sense, however, that they bring him back against the lowly Miami Marlins, who are the MLB's worst offensive team. In fact, they're last in the bigs in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and several more prominent statistics.
The Sox hope Danks can return to the form the team had him in the four seasons from 2008-2011 (outside of the first half of 2011), when he was one of baseball's more consistent and underrated pitchers. It is nice, though, that if things aren't right, we know they have other options to turn to.
Considering the most recent performances we've seen out of Hector Santiago and Dylan Axelrod, it's looking like (though not overwhelmingly) like it'll be Axe staying in the rotation with Screwgie heading to the bullpen.
As a hard-throwing lefty, Hector serves as a great swiss army knife tool out of the bullpen, as he can help out in long relief or later innings.
Axelrod has been a bit more consistent than Santiago, too. On the year, he's 2-3 and has turned out quality starts in six of his last seven starts. That's more than most teams can say they're getting out of a number five pitcher.