Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Rotation gives White Sox a steady base
By Doug Padilla
As everything else crumbles around it, the Chicago White Sox's starting rotation has remained structurally sound.
Even with two members currently out because of injuries, the staff has been the one piece of the White Sox that has been able to deliver as expected. Even as the bullpen has flopped in the early going, the starters have not gone outside themselves in an effort to pick up the slack.
Jake Peavy gave the White Sox their 23rd quality start of the season, which ranks second in the American League.
Jake Peavy was the latest White Sox starter to deliver the goods as he gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings Tuesday in the White Sox's 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
The White Sox entered Tuesday's game with a disappointing 15-21 record, but over the previous 23 games, the starting staff has led the American League in ERA (2.69), opponents' batting average (.211), opponents' on-base percentage (.270), WHIP (1.04) and baserunners per nine innings (9.71).
A lack of offense, a porous defense and the bullpen issues have left the starters with a 9-6 record since their impressive pitching run began April 15. The relievers are 2-7 in that time.
Had the White Sox's front office known what it would be getting from its starters over the first six-plus weeks, there certainly would have been a thought about the team's proximity to first place and not a spot in the AL Central cellar with the fourth-worst win percentage in the league.
Peavy put together the White Sox's 23rd quality start this season, keeping the staff three back in that category of the AL-leading Detroit Tigers, who also got a quality start Tuesday from Doug Fister.
Already this week, the White Sox have received Peavy's solid outing, as well as the club's best outing of the season when Chris Sale fired a complete-game one-hit shutout, facing just one batter over the minimum.
As the Twins are starting to look much improved of late, Peavy figures to be just the guy to give the team's rival fits.
Peavy has now made six career starts at Target Field and is 5-1 in those outings with a 1.74 ERA and 42 strikeouts. Each one of his six outings at Minnesota has been a quality start.
He entered the game with a 1.57 ERA at Target Field, which was the best of any opponent with at least five starts. The White Sox still have eight more games left in the Twin Cities, starting with Wednesday's afternoon series finale.
But even in Chicago, Peavy has what it takes against the Twins. The veteran is now 5-0 against Minnesota over his last six starts against them regardless of location. In those games he has a 1.80 ERA.
If Peavy and Sale can get those kind of results against the rest of the division, the White Sox might be able to reverse their fortunes. But they won't be able to do it without the offense, defense and bullpen.
Or can they? The frontline rotation duo knows how to operate at a disadvantage, leading a staff that has been without John Danks (surgery last season) and Gavin Floyd (surgery this season).
It won't hurt that the rotation will get even stronger in the coming days. After one more minor league rehab start, Danks could join the fun as soon as the next homestand.
At that point a rich rotation could get even richer. After all, the White Sox have been led by starting pitching for the past decade. The club has 903 quality starts since 2003, just ahead of the second-place Angels over that stretch.