White Sox Starting Five the American League’s Best?

Remember just about a month ago when you were talking about Adam Dunn rebounding and Alex Rios hitting the ball consistently? It wasn’t that long ago we were talking about what the White Sox would have to do to compete in the American League Central this season. While Dunn and Rios are important, there was one thing I felt was more important than any other of those: starting pitching.

What the White Sox starting pitchers have done over the last rotation cycle has been something that really deserves notice. It started last Friday, April 20th when Chris Sale took the mound in Seattle. Sale pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and three earned runs while striking out 11 Mariners in a 7-3 win. While Sale’s 11 strikeouts were impressive, no one knew how much better the next day’s performance would be.

On Saturday, Phillip Humber took the mound for a midafternoon matchup against the Mariners.  As Humber continued to mow hitters down, Twitter began to speculate about the possibility of history. At the end of the day, Humber was the owner of this stat line….. 9IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 9K: a perfect game. Humber threw 96 pitches throughout the nine innings, getting 13 flyball outs and five groundball outs.

While trying to upstage Humber would be impossible, John Danks took the ball on Sunday in the series finale. Danks would throw six innings in what would eventually be a sweep of the Mariners, giving up 7 hits and 4 runs while walking four and striking out six. The three starts in Seattle went a long way in helping the White Sox sweep the Mariners and move closer to the top of the AL Central.

The White Sox would leave Seattle, where they have had a lot of recent success, for a ballpark many White Sox fans would be happy to never see again. On Monday, the White Sox played the Oakland A’s for a game that started at 9 P.M. locally. While the game was overshadowed by a disappointing first round exit by the Chicago Blackhawks, Jake Peavy was as dominant as he has been since general manager Kenny Williams dealt for him. Peavy would throw a complete game shutout, giving up just three hits and walking two while striking out five. The White Sox went on to win 4-0.

On Tuesday night, the final cycle of the five man rotation, Gavin Floyd, took the mound and was as dominant as any of the rest not named Humber. Floyd went into the eighth inning, allowing just two hits and two walks, while striking out six. Floyd would give up one run when Matt Thornton couldn’t hold the inherited runner on base and picked up the loss.

What White Sox fans saw over the past five games was five different pitchers all throw games that were dominant. In all, the starters threw 37 2/3 innings, allowing 19 hits and eight runs while striking out 37.

The White Sox playoff hopes will likely fall on the pitching staff. The bullpen has been impressive early on and the starting pitching seems to be in midseason form. For now, the rotation seems to be something that doesn’t need to be a concern. They say its only April, but the results on paper are much better than the speculation that was in the air in February and March. Let’s talk in a month.

Follow on Twitter @Midwaygasper

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