Dunn's hitting, so why aren't the Sox winning?

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Dunn's hitting, so why aren't the Sox winning?

We're just over a month into the 2012 season. Adam Dunn has been fantastic, posting a .364 OBP with 9 home runs heading into Wednesday's game against Cleveland. That's the kind of production the White Sox missed last season. They still may not have made the playoffs with it, but it probably would've helped stave off that miserable 4-18 stretch in April and May that put the team behind the 8-ball far too early.

With Dunn's production this season, though, the White Sox have lost 11 of their last 14 contests. At 13-17, they're only two games ahead of their 2011 pace through 30 contests.

The good news is that the White Sox have scored 116 runs and allowed 118, which cranks out an expected win-loss record of 15-15. The Sox are 2-6 in one-run games and have lost three games in which either Hector Santiago or Matt Thornton blew a save opportunity.

The bad news, though, is that generating offense continues to be a problem, even with Dunn seemingly back to normal. By weighted on-base average (wOBA, a better version of OPS), the Sox have the 19th-best offense in baseball, ahead of only the reeling Twins in the AL Central.

Along with Dunn, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Alejandro De Aza have been fantastic, although Pierzynski has started to come back to earth lately after a torrid start. But beyond those four, the Sox have struggled to do much at the plate.

Fangraphs breaks down wOBA into seven rough categories -- for example, an average wOBA is .320. They define an "awful" wOBA as being .290 and below. Four White Sox starters fall into that category: Gordon Beckham (.279), Dayan Viciedo (.262), Alexei Ramirez (.212) and Brent Morel (.195). And the backups haven't been much better, as all four Sox bench players have a wOBA below .280.

De Aza, Dunn and Konerko will have hitless games from time to time. That happens. But when it does, the Sox lineup doesn't stand much of a chance of scoring runs.

The Sox probably need two of those four struggling players to pull out of their slumps and become average-at-worst contributors to the lineup. Beckham, to his credit, has been solid since the start of May (.357.400.643 with 2 home runs), although whether he can turn eight good games into consistent offensive production remains to be seen.

Ramirez, hopefully, is just going through his usual pre-Memorial Day struggles -- the same ones that plagued him through his first three years in the league (although last season, Ramirez had an OPS above .700 on May 15 for the first time in his career).

The improved plate discipline Viciedo showed in 2011 has since escaped him -- he's walked in just 2.2 percent of his plate appearances after working a free pass in over 8 percent of his trips to the plate last year. At this point, he's struggling to hit much of anything, as over his last 18 games he's hitting .190.217.241 with one walk and 18 strikeouts.

And then there's Morel, who's only walked four times in 97 plate appearances while striking out 32 times. He only has two extra-base hits -- both doubles -- and only Marlon Byrd rates as worse than the third baseman by wOBA this season.

There's certainly hope for these guys, seeing as it's not even mid-May. But if June rolls around and these guys are still lagging, the Sox will be in big trouble, to say the least.

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the New York Yankees tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)

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