CHICAGO | Everything happens to Gavin Floyd except another 17-victory season.
There are two-month stretches where he’s the best pitcher in the league. The White Sox right-hander has had four starts where he’s taken a no-hitter into at least the sixth inning. But he’s also had plenty of others where he was barely of fifth-starter quality.
The consistently inconsistent Floyd is still worth a lot of dollars in today’s market. Bumping along around .500 each season since his 17-8 campaign of 2008, he was deemed as good as any fourth-starter type on the market last winter. So the Sox picked up his $9.5 million option.
So just when you think Floyd might get on one of his hot streaks to add productivity to the Sox rotation, one of his old pains kicked in Saturday night during a 10-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Floyd departed with two out in the third with a right elbow flexor strain. The same injury put Floyd on the disabled list on Aug. 27, 2012 – 1 1/2 months after elbow tendinitis shelved him for 15 days.
“It’s one of those looking more like a DL sting, like he had last year,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Lefty Hector Santiago, who relieved Floyd, likely will take his place in the rotation. He is wished good health, as Sox players are filling the disabled list.
“You don’t have a choice (not to play),” Ventura said. “You keep going.”
Between the injuries and a reach for dominance that comes and goes, you wonder if the Floyd story will finally peter out this year. Seven seasons of the Sox expecting a lot, but only getting that in bits and spurts tends to get the brass looking for other options.
Floyd’s teammates and manager have seen spells where he seemed to re-capture 2008, if not reach for an even-higher level.
He was 8-4 with a 3.15 ERA over his last 16 starts in 2012, but just 4-7, 5.63 in his first 13 outings. In 2010, smack dab in the middle of a 10-13 season, Floyd did not allow more than two earned runs in 12 straight starts for two months, threw a career-high 20 consecutive scoreless innings and was named AL Player of the Month for July.
“When he has fastball command, it’s going to be a pretty good day,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “His slider’s always been a good pitch for him. Obviously his curveball is typically there. That’s kind of the equalizer on him to change speeds on the hitters. Now he has a little changeup/split that we’ve been using a little more.”
Ventura hasn’t been around for all of Floyd’s hot spells, but has picked up on the career-long pattern.
“If he’s on, he’s very difficult to hit,” he said. “He’s had spurts of it — the record doesn’t really show it. But he’s had spurts of being a very good pitcher and giving you a chance to win. There’s all kinds of expectations up here.”
Now, the question is if any expectations remain of a Floyd whose health concerns now outweigh his up-and-down pitching.
This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at DGemsNet@aol.com.