Behind John Danks' poor start to 2011

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Behind John Danks' poor start to 2011

John Danks' 0-8 record through his first 11 starts last season wasn't indicative of his struggles -- W-L records never are. Danks pitched well enough to deserve to win at least three of those starts, but thanks to poor run support and a blown save, he went winless through Memorial Day.

More reliably, Danks' struggles were epitomized by his poor strikeout-to-walk ratio (4625) opponent on-base percentage (.355) and home runs allowed (11). That's why his ERA sat at 5.25 at the end of May.

In the remainder of his starts in 2011, though, Danks was his usual solid self. He posted a 3.69 ERA with 81 strikeouts, 23 walks and eight home runs allowed, all while holding opponents to a .690 OPS. Interestingly enough, luck had nothing to do with Danks' struggles and successes -- his BABIP sat at .315 through both his first 11 and final 16 starts.

But we can dive a little deeper into what Danks did differently beyond the results thanks to Texas Leaguers' pitch fx database. And it centers around using his cutter with a higher frequency.

From April 3 through May 29, Danks threw his cutter on 22 percent of his pitches. From June 6 through the end of the season, he threw that pitch 28 percent of the time. Danks threw the pitch better, too, throwing it for more strikes and generating more swings on the pitch.

There was also a small difference in Danks' fastball and changeup velocity in these two blocks. Compared to his first 11 starts, Danks threw his fastball harder and his changeup slower in his final 16 outings, although both differences were less than 1 mph.

But Danks generated about 9 percent more swings and misses on his changeup in his final 16 starts, so there's probably something to that drop in velocity.

This isn't groundbreaking stuff: Danks has to have a good cutter and changeup to be successful. He found that out the hard way last April and May.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Will more dominoes fall after Adam Eaton trade?

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Will more dominoes fall after Adam Eaton trade?

In the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, CSN's Chuck Garfien goes 1-on-1 with White Sox GM Rick Hahn following the trade of Adam Eaton to the Nationals, which brought more top prospects to the South Side. Will more dominoes fall as the Sox go into a full rebuild?

Hahn says they expect to compete for championships within five years! Chuck also chats with new manager Rick Renteria, who tells us what he hopes to get out of his club in 2017 and beyond.

Plus, Insider Dan Hayes and Siera Santos join the crew to breakdown the timeline of getting some of these new pieces to the major leagues.

Check out the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast here:

Morning Update: White Sox ship Adam Eaton to Nats; Cubs acquire Wade Davis for Jorge Soler

Morning Update: White Sox ship Adam Eaton to Nats; Cubs acquire Wade Davis for Jorge Soler

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White Sox deal Adam Eaton to Nationals for Lucas Giolito, two others

Why Cubs felt like they had to trade Jorge Soler now

Much-needed face lift has vastly improved White Sox farm system overnight

John Fox, Vic Fangio nix report of rift in Bears coaching ranks

How Cubs convinced themselves Wade Davis would be worth the health risk

Chris Sale: Trade from White Sox 'bittersweet,' ready to move on with Red Sox

Blackhawks: Dennis Rasmussen's defensive roots run deep

White Sox manager Rick Renteria won't be fazed by rebuild

The second-guessing follows Joe Maddon from World Series to winter meetings