White Sox

White Sox think Jose Quintana is All-Star worthy after Saturday's win over Braves

White Sox think Jose Quintana is All-Star worthy after Saturday's win over Braves

Ned Yost and the American League All-Stars have already had to replace two pitchers on their roster, but White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana hasn’t been called upon to head to San Diego. 

Quintana, who earned his seventh win of the season in the White Sox 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, said he feels he’s deserving of an All-Star bid but realizes that decision is well out of his hands. 

Toronto Blue Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez and Cleveland Indians right-hander Corey Kluber were named the replacements for injured Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel and Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, respectively. 

“I don’t have control with that,” Quintana said. “But I think I deserve the All-Star (game). I just try to keep going, do my job, and one (day) I can take that opportunity.”

Quintana was given five runs of support on Saturday, which stands as a relative rarity for the 27-year-old left-hander. The White Sox have scored three or fewer runs in 10 of Quintana’s 18 starts this year and have scored five or more runs three times. That lack of run support — which has strangely dogged him since entering the league in 2012 — goes a long way toward explaining his 7-8 record this season. 

Quintana has yet to win 10 or more games in a single season in his career despite a career ERA around 3.40. 

On Saturday, Quintana was supported by three Todd Frazier RBIs — a two-run homer an RBI double — as well as RBI singles from Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera. 

“I don't know if (Quintana) knows what to do with himself,” manager Robin Ventura said.

Nate Jones held on to the lead late, striking out Nick Markakis with the tying run on second in the eighth and finishing off his four-out save despite loading the bases in the ninth. 

While he picked up a win that might lead to him being viewed a little more favorably by some old-school evaluations, Quintana’s ERA rose from 3.06 to 3.21 and his FIP went up from 3.21 to 3.48 after his start Saturday. Still, he entered the day with the second-highest fWAR of any American League starter, only behind Kluber. 

“Jose is a great pitcher, and he’s done an excellent job this year,” White Sox closer David Robertson said. “He’s definitely deserving of a shot to go to the All-Star Game.”

Quintana is on pace for his fourth consecutive season with 200 or more innings pitches and his third straight year with an ERA below 3.40. But for whatever reason — which very well could have something to do with his lack of wins — he hasn’t made an All-Star team yet. 

“Somebody gets dinged every year,” Ventura said. “The list is long. That part's unfortunate. You take away the wins and losses and he's up there in any category that matters. We know how good he is. You'd like to see him get there, absolutely.”

While Quintana and the White Sox might be disappointed to see him left off the All-Star roster, there was a positive takeaway from Saturday’s game. Quintana and Braves starter Julio Teheran — a friend of Quintana’s — combined to become the first pair of Colombia-born pitchers to start against each other in a major league game. 

A group of fans flew a Colombian flag from a suite down the left field line, and Quintana said this White Sox-Braves game was a big deal back in his home nation. 

“That’s good for my country,” Quintana said. “I think we have better baseball now. That’s good for us. I’m really proud for that.

“I think Colombia won today.”

Teheran is heading to San Diego next week to represent the Braves in the All-Star Game. Barring a last-minute change, Quintana won’t be there to join him. But Frazier — who will also be on his way to Petco Park after Sunday’s game to participate in the Home Run Derby — is confident Quintana will make an All-Star roster at some point. 

“People look at numbers all the time, man — I think sometimes it is a shame because he pitches great,” Frazier said. “I don’t know what his ERA is, but I know it’s really good … It’s just the way it goes. If he keeps doing that I know he’s going to (be) an All-Star for sure, eventually.”

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen is not one to shy away from having a strong opinion about something.

On NBC Sports Chicago’s Baseball Night in Chicago show on Tuesday, Guillen gave his view on how Major League Baseball can stop the usage of performance-enhancing drugs.

“Major League Baseball, you want to cut this thing down?” Guillen said on the show. “You cancel the contract to this kid. Then you’re going to see that. You get caught one time, you’re banned from baseball, then you’re going to stop with that. Because if you’re going to make $200 million and lose $11 million? I’m going to do it.”

Guillen is going off the idea that a player who used PEDs to get a big contract only loses part of it when he eventually gets caught and suspended. Canceling the rest of a contract takes away some of the financial incentive to use PEDs.

“If you get caught when you are young and you try to survive in the game, well, I don’t agree with them, but you can survive in this game that way,” Guillen said. “You know how hard it is right now. How Major League Baseball is on the top of this thing, day in and day out. They’re not going to play around with this thing.”

Marlon Byrd, who was twice suspended for PED use, was also on the show and talked about his PED suspensions.