By Tommy Rancel //
Biggest Surprise: Edwin Jackson
Ever the tease with his talents, Edwin Jackson looked like a top pitcher in his time with the White Sox. In 11 starts on the south side, E-Jax went 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA. Even more impressive, he struck out 77 batters and walked just 18 in 75 innings. Without many fluky stats, and under Don Cooper’s instruction, maybe, just maybe, Jackson is finally living up to the hype.
Biggest Bust: Bobby Jenks
Since saving a career-best 41 games in 2006, Jenks has seen his saves and innings totals drop in each subsequent season. This year he saved just 27 games and tossed 53.1 innings. He dealt with injuries and landed in Ozzie Guillen’s doghouse throughout the season on his way to a career-worst 4.44 ERA.
2011 Keeper Alert: Chris Sale
When the 2010 season started Sale was a starting pitcher for Florida Gulf Coast College. He ended it as a relief pitcher in the Chicago White Sox bullpen. Chicago’s first-round pick in this June’s draft made just 11 minor league appearances before his call-up. The tall, lanky lefty was impressive in 21 appearances – going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA and four saves. With a mid-90s heater, he struck out 32 batters in just 23 innings. His role for 2011 has yet to be determined (the White Sox drafted him as a starter), but he has a chance to thrive in either role.
2011 Regression Alert: Bobby Jenks
Despite mediocre traditional stats, Jenks had a good season in several peripheral categories. He struck out 10.4 batters per nine innings while walking just 3.1. With favorable control rates, he allowed just three home runs in over 50 innings. Jenks was extremely unlucky on batting average on balls in play: His .368 BABIP was well above the league average of .302 as well as his career number of .306. His future in Chicago is uncertain, but Jenks is a prime bounceback candidate in 2011, assuming he hasn’t lost the faith of his manager.
For more on Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox pitching staff, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.