I'll touch on Sanchez first. He has had a better approach at the plate (not hacking away completely, he has only two fewer walks than last season in a little over one-fifth the plate appearances. He has also shown a bit more power, something that isn't necessarily a fluke since hitters can develop power sometimes even when they're a little past their normal peak; being a little more patient helps with that too.
I'm not saying Sanchez will be a real asset (his defense is still a negative) and I stand by my opinion that Gomes would outperform him easily, but he may be better than I thought he would. He might be able to be only a little below average overall as a center fielder but as a corner outfielder or DH he will definitely be a hole.
Can we PLEASE let Fossum prove/disprove himself in the rotation now?
I know it sounds weird to say that Brazelton was lucky when he gave up five runs in 4.2 innigns but he was. It's stuff like what happened in the first inning that gives people the impression that he's good at home and bad on the road (he's actually bad everywhere). Though he has pitched a little better overall at home it isn't anywhere close to the difference in ERA. He has just been really lucky at times at home, like today. Going back to that first inning, I didn't see it, only had radio coverage at that time, but he walked two and it sounded like he had excellent defense in the outfield on three hard hit balls.
That was something that would be repeated as the game went on, he was bailed out by his defense and just getting lucky placement of balls in play, not to mention the Sox blowing that double steal by going too early and giving the Rays a free out. He could have given up more runs very easily. Another lucky thing was not giving up a home run. I don't remember where I saw it, I'll have to look it up, but recently I saw some research which suggested that in general there aren't pitchers that have major home run tendencies; over time pitchers usually give up a normal amount of home runs as a percentage of the amount of fly balls they allow. I'm sure there's a little variation with this but it's very interesting to know. It's relevant to this because Brazelton had 11 flyouts and 0! groundouts. Going through the play-by-play I see he had two ground ball hits and a line drive hit against him but that's still an insane ratio. If that keeps happening some of those flies WILL start leaving the park.
Anyone that has read me for any amount of time knows that this isn't surprising in the least to me, I never thought Brazelton was going to be anything but poor this season. He hasn't shown any promise with his professional performance history, just being fairly young and having a solid fastball and good changeup isn't enough, sooner or later a pitcher needs to prove he can actually get the job done. This is something Brazelton has never done. Maybe some of it is mental, during games he rarely looks like he has a good handle on things. Still, the cause of the problem isn't strictly relevant. Pitchers with mental barriers to pitching are just as bad as ones with ability barriers, Brazelton hasn't shown any signs of getting better in any fashion.
It's time to give up on Brazelton as a starter. If he gets another chance in the rotation it needs to be after a long period of good performance out of the bullpen. Just being a young pitcher isn't enough, he has to show actual ability to consistently get hitters out and keep them off the bases before we except him to improve.
Fossum has had some rough outings but overall has been very good. Coming into today he had the second highest strikeout rate on the staff and the best K/BB ratio. After a spectacular performance today (bases loaded in his first full inning but that was the result of two ground balls through the infield and a bunt single) he'll probably be first in the former category and will maintain his spot atop the latter. Not to say he'll be perfect, I'd like more ground balls from him and he will struggle with his control at times, I think that may be a result of his funky delivery. Still, he should be better than Brazelton easily and I don't think he'll have much trouble being at least the third best starter and has a shot at being the best if things work out well for him.
Today's game just ended. I'm disappointed but not too much. The Rays took the series and had a tough opponent today in El Duque, who is still very good when healthy. Fossum was awesome, all the runs were the result of Brazelton's "pitching." The offense averaged more runs per game against the White Sox than the rest of baseball as a whole has so far and the defense was solid all around. The Rays get a golden opportunity to improve their road performance, going to Kansas City and Detroit next before finishing the road trip with a tough series against the Marlins.
Note: I should clarify this, lest it cause any confusion. I mentioned Bell possibly having Steve Blass disease yesterday because of the way his control has tanked. Brazelton's struggles aren't anything like that, he just has poor control and throws a lot of pitches outside the zone. Bell is a totally different case, throwing pitches nowhere close to the plate, drilling them into the dirt in front of the plate and sometimes sailing them way over everyone's heads.