CHICAGO | Rick Hahn popped into the White Sox clubhouse briefly at mid-afternoon Tuesday. The general manager did not appear trade-focused, sporting a smile on his face as he walked into manager Robin Ventura’s office.
Another day thus passed with a quality Sox starting rotation still intact, led by right-hander Jake Peavy. The veteran, just returned from 1 ½ months off due to a fractured rib, is the focus of even more trade rumors now that the Cubs’ Matt Garza is off the market in a deal with Texas.
If all five members of the rotation could talk to Hahn, they no doubt would lobby to stay together into 2014. Beyond the obvious one in Peavy, all are potentially huge trading chips if Hahn wants to roll the dice to obtain badly-needed position players and minor-league depth.
The reality is the majority of big-league teams would move mountains to possess the kind of young arms – all left-handers – the Sox already trot out in the rotation.
Chris Sale is a two-time All-Star. John Danks is steadily improving the further away he gets from last August’s shoulder surgery. Jose Quintana would be prized in any rotation. And Tuesday’s starter, Hector Santiago, is one of the most versatile young arms in the majors.
"I’d like to see it," Sale said of stability. "I’d like to see our whole team stay together, not just our pitching staff."
He’s just being a good team player by not knocking the broken lineup. Sale and the Sox starters could surely sue for non-support. They’ve thrown contender-level performances without reward all season.
Going into Tuesday’s game with the Detroit Tigers, Sox starters ranked third in the American League in walks- and hits-to-innings-pitched (WHIP) at 1.23. The rotation was fourth (.249) in opponents’ batting average. They ranked fifth in ERA (3.91) and strikeouts-per-nine-innings (7.89).
In the last 20 games through Wednesday, the Sox have had 15 quality starts.
"We definitely have a good young group of starting pitchers who are capable of giving us a chance to win every time out, and eat innings at the same time," Danks said.
"We know where we stand. We can see kind of what’s happening in terms of trades and the direction they’re going. But I think the quickest way to turn around a team is by having good pitching, and deep pitching. I certainly feel we have that."
The Sox also have proven they can get right-handed hitters out with four rotation lefties. Going into his start, Santiago limited right-handed hitters to a .204 average, lowest mark among AL southpaws. Quintana was third at .229 and Sale fourth at .231.
"It can work – not many teams have that," Quintana said through an interpreter. "If management feels it's the right thing, I can only second that."
Peavy also believes a quartet of lefties can work for a whole season.
"I certainly think so," he said. "It comes down to if you can pitch. We got four lefties who can pitch."