The White Sox rotation has the potential to carry the team through the end of the season, but consistency is the only thing standing in the way.
White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale has a sparkling 13-1 record with a 2.79 earned run average, but the team’s starting pitching rotation has struggled to show consistency through the first half of the season. Robin Ventura can be confident that every five days Chris Sale will give the team an excellent opportunity to add a notch to the win column, but once the rotation starts to go a little deeper, more questions arise.
It is no secret to White Sox fans and baseball fans alike that Jose Quintana has the potential to be in the discussion with baseball’s elite starting pitchers. Take a look around baseball and you will see the top teams in each division have a one-two punch anchoring their rotation. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are those guys for the White Sox.
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While starting pitchers definitely should not be judged by their win-loss record, it certainly reflects the offense’s ability to provide run support for their pitcher, especially when compared to a starter’s earned run average. Quintana’s record to this point in the season is a mediocre five wins against eight losses. If you take that at face value it would be pretty easy to write off Quintana as a struggling pitcher who can’t seem to find the plate and gives up five or six runs per game, but Sox fans know that is not the case.
Quintana’s 3.18 ERA is less than half of a run off of Sale’s 2.79 mark even though their win-loss records are very different. Quintana has lost five one-run ballgames this year, including a 1-0 game against the New York Mets on May 30th. The lack of run support has been the pattern for his entire career, and it is a little disappointing to say the least.
Moving passed the dual left-handers at the front of the White Sox rotation lies the missing consistency. Carlos Rodon‘s earned run average has been up around four and a half for nearly all of the 2016 season, but he is improving upon that stat with each start. Rodon has serious potential to be another ace-type pitcher in a starting staff that already features two pitchers of that caliber.
James Shields currently holds the fourth slot in the rotation. Although his first starts in a White Sox uniform left a lot to be desired, his last two starts against Boston and Minnesota have showed there may still be some of that classic “Big Game” James left in there somewhere. Even though his stats this season are not up to par with where he has been in the past, his reputation still stands as a pitcher who is more than capable of holding the opposing team in check. If he can be that kind of pitcher for ten or fifteen starts, then things may start to look up again for the White Sox.
Even though the focus has been on the pitching staff, the White Sox have really lacked consistency all around. The team can go from hitting seven solo home runs in one game to being absolutely stifled by the likes of Kyle Gibson two games later. (Nothing against the talent of Kyle Gibson.) The starting pitchers have the ability to be good, that is without question. From Sale down to Miguel Gonzalez, any of them can get the job done. The offense just needs to provide run support to their pitchers and then the White Sox will be a force to be reckoned with.
As Alan Rubenstein detalied in his post the other day the Sox have beaten some pretty good teams to work their way back into the American League Central race. The upcoming schedule is very favorable so I’m optimistic as we move closer to the All-Star break.
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