White Sox

Jose Quintana's bad luck hasn't been seen since Dead Ball Era

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Jose Quintana's bad luck hasn't been seen since Dead Ball Era

Over the last three seasons, FanGraphs’ pitching WAR leaderboard has been peppered with Cy Young winners, recipients of multi-year megadeals and monumental trade deadline acquisitions. And then there’s Jose Quintana, toiling away in relative national anonymity — the kind of guy your friend brings up to look smart in a discussion of baseball’s best pitchers. 

Those top 10 pitchers: Clayton Kershaw (23.4 WAR), Max Scherzer (17.7), David Price (16.9), Chris Sale (16.4), Corey Kluber (15.7), Felix Hernandez (14.4), Jon Lester (14.0), Zack Greinke (13.6), Quintana (13.4) and Cole Hamels (12.9). Now consider the win totals for these 10 pitchers: 53, 53, 43, 36, 38, 45, 42, 51, 27, 30. The last two on these — Quintana and Hamels — have been massively unlucky, but even for Hamels, at least he has 60 decisions in 95 starts. Quintana only has 55 decisions in 97 starts, and is 27-28 in those. 

No matter how irrelevant you think win-loss numbers are for evaluating players, it’s a stat that’s absolutely tracked inside major league clubhouses. It’s become a frequent occurrence over the last few years for Quintana to stand in front of his locker and tell reporters how he didn’t pitch well enough to win, even if he fired seven innings of two or three-run ball. 

[MORE: Jason Benetti gives fans new voice to root for and follow]

In historical context, though, Quintana’s bad luck ranges from standard to outlandish. 

In each of the last three seasons, Quintana has made at least 32 starts but has had 20 or fewer decisions (9-7 in 2013, 9-11 in 2014, 9-10 in 2015). That’s something that’s happened 128 times in MLB history, but over half of those occurrences (69) have happened sine 2000. Only five of those such seasons happened before the save became an official statistic in 1969; in 2015 alone there were six players who started at least 32 games and had 20 or fewer decisions. 

There’ve only been 22 instances in MLB history of a pitcher having an ERA below 3.40 and nine or fewer wins, and Quintana is responsible for two of them (2014 and 2015). So we’re getting a little more rare here — Quintana was joined in that designation last year by then-Braves righty Shelby Miller, who had a 3.02 ERA and went 6-17. It could be worse. 

Since 1901, 1,053 pitchers have had a season in which they’ve thrown at least 200 innings with an ERA below 3.55. But of those, only 129 (12 percent) have had nine or fewer wins. 

Of those 129 pitchers, a handful have had that kind of rotten luck in two seasons: Bob Groom, Buster Brown, Elmer Jacobs, Gus Dorner, Jack Powell and Tully Sparks. You probably haven’t heard of any of them, because they all pitched in the dead ball era. There’s one pitcher who’s had three such seasons: Jose Quintana. 

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

There’s some good news for the soon-to-be 27-year-old Quintana, though. He enters the 2016 season with a 33-34 record, a 3.46 career ERA and 743 innings pitched, and in major league history, there have been 158 pitchers pitchers who’ve finished their careers with/currently have over 1,000 innings pitched and an ERA below 3.50. Only nine in the live ball era have a win-loss percentage below .500, a group headlined by Johnny Vander Meer (1937-1951) and Matt Cain (2005-present). Eventually, Quintana’s win-loss luck should turn so long as he continues his year-to-year consistency. 

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

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AP

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”