ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney ranked the top 10 2015 pitching staffs in Major League Baseball and placed the White Sox eighth.
Here’s what he had to say about the South Siders:
Maybe this will be the year that Chris Sale wins his first Cy Young Award, although more could be on the way; only three pitchers allowed a lower opponents’ OPS last season. The 25-year-old Jose Quintana allowed just 10 homers and 52 walks in 200 1/3 innings, and now the White Sox have Jeff Samardzija to be their rotation plow horse, an innings-eater, in his last season before reaching free agency. John Danks is the No. 4 starter, and at some point in 2015, prospect Carlos Rodon, the third player taken in last summer’s draft, could join the White Sox rotation, having already reached Triple-A by the end of 2014. The improvement in Rodon’s command will be the most significant question about his development.
Olney’s top 10 looked like this:
1. Washington Nationals
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. St. Louis Cardinals
4. Seattle Mariners
5. New York Mets
6. Detroit Tigers
7. Tampa Bay Rays
8. Chicago White Sox
9. San Diego Padres
10. Cleveland Indians
I’m not sure exactly what criteria Olney used in making his list, but I’d argue the White Sox have a case for a spot in the top three.
The White Sox have a 1-2-3 punch in Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Jeff Samardzija that can go toe-to-toe with any rotation in the the game.
The Dodgers, which Olney ranked second, have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top, then three pieces that have spent much of the last few years on the disabled list.
Olney praises the Cardinals for their “elite depth,” but admits Adam Wainwright’s fragility makes him a question mark.
Sale, Quintana and Samardzija had a combined WAR of 14.1 last season, which is just a half of a run behind the top three of the Dodgers and well ahead of the Nationals and Cardinals.
Sale is a bona fide Cy Young candidate, and I wrote late last season that Quintana is substantially better than anyone gives him credit for. Samardzija is in a contract year and will be playing for a big payday.
John Danks, Hector Noesi and super prospect Carlos Rodon make up the back end of the rotation, and there’s enough stability, consistency and potential there to, I think, merit a top-three ranking.