Chicago White Sox

2005's 'Lucky' wins: Sox starter dominance revisited

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2005's 'Lucky' wins: Sox starter dominance revisited

Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010
8:31 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Saturday marked the five-year anniversary of Scott Podsedniks dramatic home run to defeat the Houston Astros and give the Chicago White Sox a 2-0 lead in the 2005 World Series, and Monday marks five years since Geoff Blum became a member of the Chisox Hall of Heroes.

Those dramatic pokes aside, its common knowledge that it was an uncanny combination of great fielding, timely hitting and exquisite starting pitching with an accent on the latter that decisively delivered the White Sox a title with a record-tying 11-1 run through the postseason.

This look at lucky postseason winners led to digging deeper into the miraculous run of pitching Chicago enjoyed in 2005, and its a fun stroll, indeed.

First, as for the lucky postseason winners, Steve Lombardi of Baseball-Reference went back and compiled a list of every pitcher with more than one playoff start that resulted in both a game score of less than 50 (i.e. not a quality start) and a win. As it turns out, of the 12 pitchers Lombardi found, Freddy Garcia was one, and his Oct. 7, 2005 ALDS start at the Boston was one of his lucky wins. (Orlando Hernandez is also among the 12 pitchers, but he didnt make a start for the White Sox in the 2005 postseason).

For a guy with a postseason record of 6-2, Garcia has turned in four sub-50 game score efforts out of nine career starts, so he was lucky in his playoff stints with the Seattle Mariners as well (it was in Seattle where he won his first lucky playoff start, turning in a 46 to earn the win in Game 5 of the 2000 ALCS).

Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS at Fenway Park is when Garcia won his second lucky game, going five innings with four walks, a strikeout, and three earned runs in trotting out a game score of 42 the worst effort of Chicagos 12 postseason starts in 2005. Garcia gave up just five hits, but three of them were solo home runs back-to-back jacks to David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to lead off the fourth inning, and another to Ramirez in his next at-bat, leading off the sixth.

Also remarkable about Garcias win secured only after Hernandezs classic sixth inning (and perfect seventh) in relief of the starter and a woeful effort by lefty Damaso Marte is that it followed the second-worst effort by a White Sox starter in the 2005 playoffs, Mark Buehrles Game 2 win, which was a seven-inning, one-walk, two-K, four-earned run effort that reaped a game score of 46. Those two starts vs. Boston were the only game scores of less than the quality standard of 50 for the entire White Sox postseason.

Garcia, in fact, got markedly better. His game score for his Game 4, complete-game win in Anaheim was a 71 (following up on 77 efforts from Buehrle and Jon Garland) and his effort in Game 4 of the World Series was a 73, chasing mediocre starts from Jose Contreras (55), Buehrle (53) and Garland (53).

Some other crazy outcomes of the 11-1 playoff run for the White Sox:

Matt Clement, Bostons Game 1 starter, had a game score of 14 after surrendering eight earned runs and three homers in just 3 13 innings.

Boston starters had higher game scores than their White Sox counterparts in the rest of the series, David Wells outpitching Buehrle in Game 2, 48-46, and Tim Wakefield outdueling Garcia in the clincher, 43-42.

In Game 1 of the ALCS, the situation reversed, as Contreras had a game score of 61 but lost to Paul Byrd and his 54. Remember, that game turned in part on Aaron Rowands inability to bunt Pablo Ozuna to second with no outs in the ninth inning vs. Francisco Rodriguez.

Chicagos amazing streak of four consecutive complete games in the ALCS vs. the Angels was the enduring characteristic of the entire 2005 postseason. But in addition, of all five games of the series, the White Sox rotation pitched all but two-thirds of an inning (Cotts relieved Contreras with one out in the ninth inning of Game 1); that means that the White Sox rotation recorded 98.5 of the outs in the ALCS and threw 98.7 of the pitches in the series.

Contreras seven-inning effort to begin the World Series meant that a stretch of 43 straight innings were hurled solely by the four White Sox starters and a stretch of 51 13 of 52 ALCSWorld Series innings (24 13 of them from Contreras alone) came from Chicagos starters.

Although Garcias game score of 73 in Game 4 of the World Series was his best of the playoffs and the third-best of the White Sox postseason, Houston Astros starter Brandon Backe bested him with a 74.

Garland was truly an unsung hero of the postseason, with game scores of 77 and 53 in his two playoff wins, for a team-best average of 65. He also saved 6.3 runs (Base-Out Runs Saved, or RE24), bettering Garcia (6), Contreras (5.2) and Buehrle (3.5). Its worth noting that Garland was the only White Sox pitcher to withstand less pressure than averageexpected (his aLI or Average Leverage Index being less than one), which likely aided his performance.

White Sox starters earned decisions in all but two of the 12 playoff games in 2005, and in every one of the first nine (8-1).

Using Win Probability Added, the three most dominating games by White Sox starters in the 2005 playoffs were Buehrle in Game 2 of the ALCS (.588 WPA, with a 1 WPA meaning the pitcher was worth a win for his performance alone), Garcia in the World Series-clincher (.447) and Garland in Game 3 of the ALCS (.306).

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Joining Hall-of-Fame company the latest feat for Jose Abreu, White Sox model of consistency

Joining Hall-of-Fame company the latest feat for Jose Abreu, White Sox model of consistency

Just how valuable is Jose Abreu to the White Sox?

Well, whenever you join Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only baseball players ever to do something, you must be pretty darn valuable.

Abreu joined that elite company Saturday night, driving in both runs in the White Sox forgettable 8-2 loss to the visiting Kansas City Royals. Those RBIs brought his total to 100 on the season, making him the third major leaguer ever to hit at least 25 homers and drive in at least 100 runs in his first four seasons.

“Every year after a season I meet with my family and we review my season and my stats. Last year when we had the meeting, I told them next year I’m gonna hit 30 homers, I’m gonna drive in at least 100 and I did it,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I was able to do it and that’s something that made me feel proud of myself and proud of my family, too, because they have been the ones who have been supported me through my whole career."

Abreu’s known as an extremely hard worker, a template to follow for many if not all of the youngsters coming up as the future stars of the White Sox rebuild. And so it makes this moment all the sweeter for him and those around him.

“It is especially important not just for me but for my family and my team,” Abreu said. “I think that this is a reward for the effort and all the work you put in for preparation for your season. It’s special when you get this kind of result and consistency in your stats. But the most important thing is it’s a reward for my family. And this organization, maybe we are not in the position we want to be right now as a team, but I know that better times are to come.”

“He works extremely hard,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think everybody was feeling it for him tonight. He’s been pushing. He fouled a ball off of his left shin the other day, and you see him kind of gimping around there. … He’s not one to do anything to deter from continuing to help the team win first and foremost, but along the way he’s able to collect some individual merit points, so to speak. And put himself in a very special class.”

The big question surrounding Abreu isn’t whether he’s worthy of being the leader the young White Sox of the future need to turn rebuilding mode into contending mode a few years down the line. The question is whether he’ll still be around by then. His final year of arbitration is 2019, meaning if the White Sox are looking at 2020 as the year of true contention, it will take a new contract to keep Abreu in town.

A few things factor into that, of course. No. 1, Abreu could continue this consistently terrific pace and be lured away by another team willing to spend more to acquire his services. No. 2, though, is his age. He’ll be 33 years old when the 2020 season starts, and while that’s not old by most standards, it means he’ll demand a big contract — and likely a lengthy one — as he reaches the latter part of his prime. It’s not to suggest Abreu will dramatically slow down in terms of production, but it will most definitely be under consideration as the White Sox look to keep their window of contention open as long as possible.

For what it’s worth, Abreu is constantly thanking the White Sox organization for the opportunity to do what he’s done over the past four seasons, and he’s said how much he wants to keep playing for this franchise.

What is of no question, however, is Abreu’s worth as a top-of-the-line offensive player. His totals with a week’s worth of games left in the 2017 season: 31 homers, 100 RBIs and a .305/.356/.551 slash line. All those percentages would be his highest since his outstanding rookie season in 2014.

And his worth as a leader, as a guy who could be a rallying point for all these young players, that’s pretty darn valuable, too.

“I haven’t (tonight) made light of what I believe he’s becoming as part of this organization and what he is as far as what he does for the team,” Renteria said. “You got a couple of young men in there that are growing up and becoming a part of what I believe are leaders within that clubhouse. And he’s one of them. He’s certainly deserves it. He’s earned it. He’s worked for it. He’s been in this organization since the inception of his major league career. He’s someone that we all are happy is a part of us.”

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

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USA TODAY

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

It’s been more than two weeks since Carlos Rodon was shut down for the season, one day after he was scratched from a start with shoulder inflammation.

And while we know Rodon won’t pitch again in 2017 — a season with just a little more than a week remaining for the rebuilding White Sox — the team still doesn’t know, or still isn’t ready to say, exactly what’s wrong with the former first-round draft pick.

“We’re just trying to get it right,” Rodon said before Saturday night’s game against the visiting Kansas City Royals. “Still trying to figure everything out and take everything we can and put it all together to get the most information and do what’s best for me and for this team.”

That kind of non-update might raise some red flags in the minds of White Sox fans, curious as to what is the latest ailment for a pitcher who missed three months this season while recovering from biceps bursitis.

Rodon was slated to get reevaluated shortly after that early September injury. He was, but no news came of it, at least not yet.

“Pretty similar to what our doc said,” Rodon said of that follow-up evaluation. “Like I said, we’re trying to still gather all the information and figure out what we’re going to do from there.”

Rodon ended his third season in the bigs with a 4.15 ERA in 69.1 innings of work. And while the White Sox still believe he’ll be a huge part of their starting staff moving forward, it’s plenty acceptable to wonder what kind of effects this season of injuries will have on Rodon as the franchise’s rebuild chugs along.

“He continues to be a big part of what we believe is the future of the organization,” manager Rick Renteria said after explaining several times that the team is still trying to figure out what’s wrong with Rodon. “Unfortunately, this year he's been down quite a bit. So assuming he comes back in a good situation and is healthy and is capable of going out and performing, he fits into one of the five guys that are going to be out there for us next season.”

For his part, Rodon is 100-percent confident he’ll be good to go for next year’s campaign.

“I just know that I’ll be ready for next season,” Rodon said. “The goal is to be ready for next year and be healthy through all of next season.”

That, though, will be the million-dollar question as the White Sox starting rotation of the future begins to take shape. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already penciled in for 2018, and Michael Kopech’s 2017 campaign in the minors was so sensational, he could potentially pitch himself into that starting five, too. With younger names like Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning also doing work in the minors, someone’s going to be the odd man out.

Rodon still has the confidence of his organization. But will he have the health to make that confidence pay off?