Gavin Floyd has great stuff.
We hear it all the time and so does Don Cooper. He's seen it and it's Cooper's job to make sure that the White Sox get the most out of it. But after watching Floyd struggle again on Thursday night, when he gave up five runs with four walks in 4 23 innings, the White Sox pitching coach didn't want to talk about Gavin's "stuff."
"It's not about stuff. Everyone in the league has stuff," Cooper said by phone from Los Angeles where the White Sox play the Dodgers Friday night on Comcast SportsNet. "You've got to command it more. You've got to pitch, and he's not commanding at the level he needs to command to put himself in a better position to win the game. That's what it comes down to."
In his last six starts, Floyd is 1-4 with a 10.38 ERA. The White Sox keep waiting for the 6-foot-6 righty to snap out of his slump, but it hasn't happened yet.
During spring training Floyd told Comcast SportsNet, "I believe that I can win 20 ballgames." Now at 4-7, that's probably a long shot.
He definitely has the stuff to win 20, Cooper said during spring training.
There's that word again: stuff. It keeps sneaking into our Gavin Floyd vocabulary. But until he consistently harnesses that stuff, he will continue to run into problems like Thursday when the White Sox lost their first road interleague series since 2008.
"He's got enough fastball. He's got enough curve ball. He's got a major league slider, a major league changeup," Cooper said of Floyd. "When the guy is having difficulty or in a slump so to speak, he's not commanding that stuff. He's making mistakes with it. Last night, the mistake to David Freese, it was a fastball that was supposed to be in. It was in the middle and he hit a homer. Gavin is paying for every mistake he makes."
After collecting a season-high nine strikeouts in a loss to the Astros on June 8, Floyd seemed to be on the right path. But in St. Louis, he drove off-course. He was in trouble most of the night and was pulled in the fifth inning.
So what now? Is he still... close?
"Yeah, he's close," Cooper said. "We've seen Gavin go 8-10 good starts in a row. We've got to stick with him. We've got to keep working. We've got to keep being positive. It's easy to do all those things I mentioned when everything is rolling your way. The challenge is, can you do it when it's not? And that's the challenge that we've got."
When John Danks returns from the disabled list, rookie Jose Quintana seems like a sure bet to remain in the rotation. That would mean that Floyd or Philip Humber, who's also struggling, will head to the bullpen.
Is it safe to say that Floyd and Humber are officially on watch?
"Everybody is on watch. Everybody's watching. We want guys to be out there and give us a chance to win the game. Gavin is in a slump and Philip is not clickiing the way we'd want him to click. It's not like, 'Jeez we got to dump this guy.' That's not our first thought. Our thoughts are, 'What can we do?' That's our job."