White Sox

White Sox season review: Starting pitching

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White Sox season review: Starting pitching

As the White Sox head into the winter following a 76-86 offseason, CSNChicago.com will examine the past, present and future of each position group at 35th and Shields. We'll begin with the starting rotation.

Depth chart

1. LHP Chris Sale: 5 years/$32.5M (2013-17), plus 2018-19 options
2. LHP Jose Quintana: 5 years/$21M (2014-18), plus 2019-20 options
3. LHP Carlos Rodon: 0.168 major league service
4. LHP John Danks: 5 years/$65M (2012-16)
5. RHP Erik Johnson: 0.089 major league service
6. RHP Frankie Montas: 0.035 major league service

What went right

Chris Sale’s 274 strikeouts set a new White Sox single season record and were the most among American League starters. The 26-year-old left-hander also tied a major league record when he racked up double-digit strikeouts in eight consecutive games, cementing himself as an upper-echelon starter in baseballs pitching-heavy landscape. His 3.41 ERA isn’t indicative of how dominant he was, and his significant FIP-to-ERA split (his ERA was 0.68 points higher than his FIP, the fifth-highest positive difference among qualified starters) shows he was frequently the victim of a bad defense behind him.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Jose Quintana continued to be a steady presence in the middle of the rotation, starting at least 32 games and throwing at least 200 innings for the third consecutive year. His win-loss record (9-10) is cruel; Quintana hasn’t won double-digit games in his career despite a 3.46 ERA. The 26-year-old left-hander’s contract is favorable and, coupled with Sale’s team-friendly deal and Carlos Rodon’s early-career inexpensiveness, allows the White Sox to have some wiggle room with money elsewhere.

Rodon finished strong in his major league debut season, posting a 1.81 ERA over his final eight starts. He threw 149 1/3 innings between Triple-A and the majors, setting himself up for a 2016 season in which his workload will still be monitored, but hardly to the extent it was in 2015.

Erik Johnson posted a 3.34 ERA in six late-season starts, continuing a strong Triple-A showing (132 2/3 IP, 2.37 ERA, 136 K, 41 BB, 5 HR). Hard-throwing prospect Frankie Montas made his major league debut after posting a 2.97 ERA in 23 starts for Double-A Birmingham.

What went wrong

The White Sox hung on to Jeff Samardzija at the trade deadline with the thought he’d help them push for a berth in the American League wild card game. Instead, the free-agent-to-be imploded to the tune of an 8.82 ERA in six August starts (33 2/3 IP, 33 ER). He barely finished the year with an ERA below five (4.96) and appears likely to sign elsewhere in the offseason.

[MORE: Ex-Sox closer Addison Reed thriving with World Series-bound Mets]

John Danks deserves plenty of credit for trying different pitching motions and strategies to regain his pre-shoulder surgery form, but his 4.71 ERA was right in line with his mark in 2013 (4.75) and 2014 (4.74). While Samardzija and Danks both struggled, though, the White Sox starting rotation wasn’t among the chief reasons why this team finished below .500.

The future

With Samardzija expected to sign elsewhere this winter, the White Sox have an opening in the rotation on which the 25-year-old Johnson should have the inside track heading into spring training. Montas could get in the mix too, or the White Sox could bring in an inexpensive veteran to push the younger pitchers during spring training.

The interesting question will be if the White Sox deal from their strength — left-handed starting pitching — to address needs at plenty of positions across the diamond.

Eloy Jimenez returns to White Sox a little more than three weeks after spraining ankle

Eloy Jimenez returns to White Sox a little more than three weeks after spraining ankle

Things looked grim when Eloy Jimenez, the White Sox top-ranked prospect and a centerpiece of the South Side rebuilding plans, was down in pain on the warning track.

But a little more than three weeks later, Jimenez is back in the lineup, returned from his stay on the injured list for the start of a four-game series against the Houston Astros.

Jimenez made a leaping attempt to catch a home-run ball in the April 26 game against the Detroit Tigers. In the process, his foot got stuck in the padding of the left-field wall, and the 22-year-old suffered a high ankle sprain. He limped off the field and needed help getting into the dugout and clubhouse. Thoughts of "here we go again" flashed through a fan base that's watched top prospects suffer one significant injury after another in recent seasons.

The White Sox said Jimenez would be reevaluated in a couple weeks, while cursory Google searches revealed recovery times of more than a month for this type of injury.

But Jimenez seems to have healed quickly. He went on a minor league rehab assignment last week, playing in five games with Triple-A Charlotte before being deemed ready to return Monday.

This is phenomenal news for the White Sox and their fans, of course, who in the time Jimenez has been sidelined have seen another key piece go down with Carlos Rodon's Tommy John surgery. Jimenez hasn't got off to the rip-roaring start some predicted — he's slashed .241/.294/.380 with a trio of home runs in his first 21 major league games — but all playing time for the youngster is good playing time as he continues his development in his first big league season. Throw in Jimenez's four-game stay on the bereavement list prior to that game against Detroit, and he's had just one at-bat since April 21.

So maybe expect some rust, and manager Rick Renteria said Jimenez could perhaps be eased back with a game at DH here and there as he continues to work on improving his defense in left field.

Jimenez did go 7-for-22 (a .318 batting average) with a homer and a double in his rehab stint in Charlotte. Now he's back in the major league outfield, a good thing for everyone following along with this rebuild.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: What has James McCann meant to the White Sox? Everything

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What has James McCann meant to the White Sox? Everything

Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber talk about James McCann's breakout season with the White Sox (1:15).

Then Chuck speaks with McCann about all the preparation he does for every game (9:20), why he'll never use a cheat sheet scouting report behind the plate like many catchers do (11:30) and what McCann has been badgering Lucas Giolito about since spring training (14:30).

Plus, why Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer have been so successful out of the bullpen (16:30), why McCann acts as a karaoke host on the team bus (17:40) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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