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White Sox could mix, match six starters

5/2/2011

CHICAGO -- Not only might Jake Peavy return to the Chicago White Sox rotation as early as next week, general manager Kenny Williams said the team could be in position to provide a unique look with its rotation.

Williams said Monday that he is in the beginning stages of discussions with pitching coach Don Cooper about how the White Sox will move forward with six legitimate starters.

Peavy has a minor-league rehab start scheduled for Thursday for Triple-A Charlotte at Toledo. He has expressed a desire to return to the major leagues on the upcoming road trip and Williams said he would be fine with it if Peavy pitches like he did in the second half of his rehab start Friday.

Things don’t figure to be as easy as inserting Peavy back into the rotation while pulling somebody else out.

While the team has been in the midst of a disappointing first month, right-hander Phil Humber has been a bright spot. Expected to be the stop-gap plan for the rotation until Peavy returned, Humber is arguably the best starter on the team despite his 2-3 record.

Humber has a 3.06 ERA in seven outings this season, but that mark is even better when he starts. In his five turns in the rotation he has a 2.67 ERA and a 0.890 WHIP.

Williams has pitched a plan to Cooper where the White Sox can move around their starting pieces for matchup purposes instead of being stuck with a rigid plan where they pitch every five games.

If the plan lasted until September, for instance, and Mark Buehrle is scheduled to face a team he struggles against, like the Cleveland Indians, he could be pushed back a day or two and face the Kansas City Royals instead.

Gavin Floyd could be also be moved around if he’s headed for an undesirable matchup, or even Edwin Jackson.

Williams’ hope is to have a rotation that is fresher than most during the second half, but unless the White Sox start winning games soon, it might not matter. And then there is the question of whether or not the starters would be receptive to such a plan.

Buehrle has said in the past that he prefers to stay on a five-day schedule, while Peavy said earlier this year that he would be receptive to alternating six starters if it helps to avoid wear and tear.

What seems to be more realistic, at least until Peavy gets into the flow of things, is that the former Cy Young winner makes his first start on the road trip and Humber is available to back him up out of the bullpen in case he falters.

But if Peavy starts pitching well, Williams’ plan could go into full effect.