Sox Drawer: With Floyd, Cooper insists 'it's not about stuff'

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Sox Drawer: With Floyd, Cooper insists 'it's not about stuff'

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."

Why?

"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."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jason Benetti stops by to talk the future of the White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jason Benetti stops by to talk the future of the White Sox

There's a lot of buzz around the future of the White Sox.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti joined SportsTalk Live on Wednesday to discuss the team's exciting young prospects and how soon they'll be making their way to the South Side.

Also joining Pat Boyle on this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast are the Tribune's David Haugh, Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush and WGN Radio's Sam Panayotovich.

The guys also react to Mike Glennon's recent comments and Kevin White’s uncertain status at OTAs.

Plus, they wonder if Kyle Schwarber has finally found his spot in the Cubs' lineup.

Take a listen to the latest episode below:

Jose Quintana rocked as White Sox swept by Diamondbacks

Jose Quintana rocked as White Sox swept by Diamondbacks

PHOENIX — Jose Quintana looked as if he might be on the way to a second consecutive gem on Wednesday afternoon before it quickly took a turn for the worse.

After three perfect frames, Quintana got hit hard in the middle innings and was forced out of the contest. The Arizona Diamondbacks offense awoke from an early slumber against Quintana to complete a sweep of the White Sox, who fell 8-6 in front of 18,002 at Chase Field. The eight earned runs allowed by Quintana are the most he has yielded in a start in two years and raised his earned-run average to 4.82.

“For us it’s also a tough thing to figure because he has been so great in his career,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s something that we are not accustomed to seeing from him. But he’s a hard worker and we all know how talented he is and we’re all confident in him. I think it’s just a matter of one thing for him to clean it up and to be that Jose Quintana that we know.”

None of what transpired in the first three innings Wednesday offered any indication of what was to come. The 2016 All-Star pitcher picked up where he’d left off on Friday night in Seattle when he combined with David Robertson on a one-hitter.  

Quintana’s offspeed pitchers were diving and Diamondbacks hitters had no chance. He induced checked swing after checked swing and racked up five strikeouts in three innings and even made a smooth defensive play on Gregor Blanco’s bunt-base hit attempt to start the fourth inning with the White Sox leading 2-0.

But then it all went south.

Nick Ahmed doubled to left and red-hot Paul Goldschmidt doubled to deep center to make it a 2-1 game before Chris Owings tied it with an RBI single. Things only got worse for Quintana in the fifth inning when he hit the first hitter Brandon Drury with a 1-2 pitch. Quintana then left a 1-0 fastball over the middle and Jake Lamb didn’t miss the mistake, driving it the opposite way for a two-run homer and a 4-2 lead. Four batters later, Ahmed doubled in a pair and the rout was on. Goldschmidt’s single knocked Quintana from the game.

Owings had a sac fly off Anthony Swarzak to score one inherited run and Drury singled in the other to put Arizona ahead by six.

Quintana allowed eight hits and struck out seven. The eight runs he allowed were the most he’d allowed in a start since the Detroit Tigers tagged him for nine runs on April 19, 2015.

“It’s just execution,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Most times when guys are being hit around, a lot of it has more to do with executing and location. I think it’s more pitches get out over the plate. ... Based on the swings, they were pretty good swings, so I’m assuming they were pitches out over the plate.”

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The poor outing raised Quintana’s earned-run average by nearly a point from 3.92. Even though it’s still more than two months until the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline, Quintana’s inconsistent start to the season has also almost certainly harmed his perceived trade value. Not only has Quintana pitched poorly, but shifts in the plans of other clubs could provide contending teams with more trade options. However, with teams still focused on the upcoming draft and the deadline a way off, Quintana has more than enough time to get back on track.

Quintana said he plans to do what he’s always done — discard the tough outing and move on. It’s the same way he has operated since 2012 and it has helped become a highly regarded member of the White Sox.

“Just turn the page and keep going,” Quintana said. “It’s different feeling than last year. But I feel pretty good. Never think in the past. If you have a bad day, just keep going. Keep doing, we doing good in the past. So, just keep doing my things and throw the ball well.”

One player who has continued to stay hot for more than a month is Abreu, who blasted his 100th homer on Tuesday night. For an encore, Abreu matched his career high with four hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning that got the White Sox to within 8-4.

Melky Cabrera had an RBI groundout in the seventh inning and Abreu singled in another to make it an 8-6 game.

But the White Sox got no closer.

Leury Garcia’s solo homer in the second inning gave the White Sox an early lead. Abreu doubled in the fourth and scored on a double play to make it a 2-0 lead.

From April 19 on, Abreu is hitting .347/.404/.677 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in 136 plate appearances. He’s currently on pace for 36 home runs, which would tie the career high he established in 2014.