The Sox need Clayton Richard. Or, to be more precise, they need a certain version of him.
After the Bartolo Colon experiment failed (though Colon could be back in the rotation soon), and Jose Contreras started pitching like we've come to expect Jose Contreras to pitch, the White Sox must rely on youth in their pitching staff if they want to have any chance of a division title and a deep playoff run.
They're not going to land Jake Peavy (or anything resembling Jake Peavy).
So the Sox will have to lean on John Danks, and Richard is the other.
In 2009, Richard has been decent but not good and certainly not great. He owns a 4.65 ERA over 26 games, and his WHIP, 1.472, is nothing to write home about. He's occasionally struggled with his control. And his strikeout rates were at their highest in May before a descent in mediocrity in June.
But it's July that has Ozzie Guillen confused. Richard's last two starts have been lights out: Richard has only allowed two runs in 16 innings, the kind of production that gets Guillen's eye. Now Guillen is talking about keeping him in the starting rotation instead of Colon. At the very least, Richard could have been headed to Triple-A; now Guillen is guaranteeing a stay in the majors.
That's big news for Richard, but it's even bigger news for Sox fans. If the kid can turn the small sample of 16 innings into a larger productive streak, he'll be exactly what the Sox need at the tail end of their rotation.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.