Looking Ahead For The Chicago White Sox
By Joe McCarthy
Apr 3, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana (62) pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the fifth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The White Sox will pack their bags and travel to Kansas City for the first three games of a six game road trip. Losing to the Minnesota Twins 10-9 last night, the Sox currently stand at 2-1 and tied for second with the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central.
Starting pitching was key for the Sox, after Jose Quintana pitched six innings with a 3.00 ERA and allowing only five hits. A blown save from Matt Lindstrom allowed the Twins to complete a two-run rally in the ninth where the Twins took the lead and left US Cellular Field with a win and avoided the sweep.
The spring sun opened up on US Cellular Field when the Sox took on the Twins in the home opener. Winning two of three against the Twins (5-3, 7-6, 9-10), the Southsiders find themselves second in the American League Central Division along with the Indians.
Now, the Sox will have to travel to Kansas City for a three game stint with the Royals for the first leg of a six-game road trip. During the trip, the pitching staff will be tested and should give fans a decent look of what to expect during the season.
April 4-6 will have the White Sox in Kansas City.
Right hand pitcher Erik Murphy is set to take the mound in his first action of the new season followed by left-hander John Danks and rounding out the series, and the starting rotation for the Sox, is Chris Sale.
What to watch for in this series will have to be the starting pitching. The starting rotation will have finally come through their first cycle in the early parts of the season and it will be interesting to see how the starters work in short rest.
Sale, who is 1-0 on the season with a 3.68 ERA, was stellar in opening day play against the Twins; throwing 108-pitches in 7.1 innings of work, he gave the White Sox their first 5-3 win of the season.
The three game series against the Royals will give Manager Robin Ventura and fans a good look at the starting rotation for the Sox. An impressive start already, you could argue the White Sox have a top three starting rotation in the AL Central.
The Sox have a solid core of Sale, Danks and Quintana that can go play against the best three from the Tigers and Indians – the two big names from last year in the AL Central.
Since 2012, the White Sox have been searching for a solid starting rotation. If Sale, Danks and Quintana can stay healthy, Ventura may just have the starting rotation to compete for a playoff position deep into the season.
If Johnson and Felipe Paulino can provide quality starts and the offense can continue to produce runs, the White Sox will become serious playoff contenders, and a threat when we get deeper and deeper into the season. Any manager will tell you: pitching is key for success in this league, especially in the AL Central where there always seems to be a tight race heading into the final parts of the season.
Although the starting rotation seems to be in shape during the first series of the new season, how does the rest of the staff look? In last night’s match-up against the Twins, Ventura used four different pitchers to finish out the final three innings. Nate Jones faced two hitters during the Thursday night game, walking them both – he now has faced five hitters this season and has not retired one.
Maikel Cleto and Ronald Belisario came on in relief also for the Sox before the blow save from Lindstrom. But is it too early in the season to have concerns about the bullpen? It is too early for a definite answer, but this answer may come soon enough. Starting with the three game series with the Royals, the Sox will play 10-games before a day’s rest. Relief pitching will play a large part and ultimately give a great test for this bullpen playing daily for the next 10-games.
The series with 0-2 Royals will give the entire pitching staff a solid test early this season. It will be interesting to see if there are major changes in the pen, but Ventura seems to confident through the first three contests.
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