Young lefties show promise for Sox

Young lefties show promise for Sox
July 28, 2013, 6:15 pm
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White Sox at Indians, 6 p.m.
on Comcast SportsNet Plus
(Click here to find CSN Plus in your area)

On the hill: John Danks (2-8, 4.81 ERA); Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.57 ERA)

Indians at at a glance: 56-48 (2nd in American League Central, 3 GB of Tigers) ... +46 run differential ... 33-19 at home.

Indians pitching leaders: Wins - Justin Masterson (12); ERA - Masterson (3.42); WHIP - Masterson (1.15) Strikeouts - Masterson (153); Saves - Chris Perez (14)

Indians batting leaders: Average - Jason Kipnis (.315); Home runs - Kipnis/Mark Reynolds (15); RBIs - Kipnis (63); OPS - Kipnis (.882); Stolen bases - Kipnis (21)

Click here for full game preview

The White Sox were swept by Kansas City over the weekend, but it wasn't for a lack of quality starting pitching. 

Jose Quintana allowed two runs in seven innings on Saturday and was saddled with a loss. Chris Sale threw a complete game on Saturday, but allowed one run and thus took the loss. Hector Santiago allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings Sunday, avoiding a loss in a game his team lost anyways. 

In those three games, the White Sox scored three runs. 

"I think pitching-wise, our guys gave us every opportunity, we just didn’t come up with much," manager Robin Ventura said. "That’s frustrating and all that stuff going with it. Just has to be better if you’re going to win games."

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Still, the trio of young left-handers have served as a bright spot in a dismal year, with Sale leading the charge. In 19 starts, Sale has a 2.69 ERA with 149 strikeouts, 31 walks and 12 home runs allowed in 137 innings. Despite his 6-10 record, he's solidified himself among the game's elite with a top-10 ERA and strikeout rate. 

Quintana, who's just two months older than Sale, hasn't been as flashy but has developed into an effective starter. In 21 starts covering 126 2/3 innings, he has a 3.55 ERA and 3.86 FIP, a number derived from a pitcher's success in limiting walks and home runs and maximizing strikeouts (it's also a solid predictor of future success). 

Santiago has been erratic at times and dominant at others, and lowered his ERA to 3.33 on Sunday. Control remains an issue -- Santiago walked three Royals in the fourth and four overall -- but he's flashed potential in a number of dominant starts.

"The inning he walked three guys, that’s just one you almost know you’re going to give them a run in that situation," Ventura said. "He’s had those where somewhere in the middle he gets a little erratic and then finds it right after. It’s just one of those as he continues to grow you’re going to have to limit that one inning that’s going to come back and bite you."

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That goal is nothing new for Santiago. 

"Yeah, I think I've been trying to avoid that my entire life," he said. "Seriously, that's been the story of my life. There's always one inning -- whether it's the first or whatever inning it is -- it seems like it always gets away in just one inning. The same thing has happened pretty much the entire year, the one inning [with] two walks and got out of it and kept us right there. But if I can avoid that it could be a huge difference in the game."
 
With the White Sox well out of playoff contention, Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper can exercise patience with Santiago, who earlier this year was shuttled between the bullpen and rotation. 

Sale is an undeniable piece of the core, but perhaps he'll be joined by Quintana and Santiago in that same realm.