White Sox see no problem with lefty-heavy rotation
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Left-handed pitching always has been a valued commodity, be it starting or relieving.
The belief is that at least one lefty is needed in the rotation and two is even better for the bullpen.
But four left-handed starters? It has been the norm for the White Sox since last season.
“I’m not thinking anything at all about it because it’s just the way it’s been,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said. “They’re all different. None is the same. The advantage is we have four pretty good pitchers.”
Ace Chris Sale is a given, and Carlos Rodon is the promise of now and the future. John Danks is the veteran in his 10th season, perhaps his last on the South Side after the ups and downs of injuries and comebacks.
Then there’s Jose Quintana, whose start Sunday was pushed back when rain postponed the series finale between the Sox and Indians at U.S. Cellular Field. He’ll start Monday at Minnesota.
Quintana, 27, often is overlooked in a group led by Sale. His 63 quality starts since 2013 rank third among American League lefties and seventh among major-league lefties. He has issued three or fewer walks in 114 starts, ranking fifth in the AL since 2012. Sale ranks seventh.
Yet since 2012, Quintana leads the majors in an odd category — no-decisions. He has 53.
“He handles it extremely well,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I know it can be frustrating. I know guys are frustrated for him. But he handles it as well as anybody could. He’s just a good kid.”
The stat speaks as much to Quintana’s abilities as his misfortunes. And speculation always seemed to swirl that Quintana, with a lifetime 33-34 record and 3.46 ERA, would be a valuable trading chip for the Sox.
Instead, he is part of a rotation that Cooper and Ventura consider a strength.
“I don’t know how that all started,’’ Cooper said of misgivings about a predominately left-handed pitching staff. “I’m 60 years old, and people said it even 40 years ago, ‘You have too many lefties.’
“They all throw with their left hand, but that’s it. Their stuff is different, their velocity is different, their angles are different. I never thought of it as, ‘This is a problem.’
“We’re preparing the same way with each guy, and we’re hoping that each guy goes out there and does what I’ll call the White Sox job description, which is go out there for six, seven, eight and sometimes nine innings.”
The notion of right-handed hitters fairing better against lefties is partly a factor because of the presence of more right-handed hitters.
“But I’m not so sure the game is all right-handed,” Cooper said. “I don’t keep numbers on it, but I know there are plenty of good left-handed hitters in the league. Joe Mauer [of the Twins] being one of them we’ll see now.
“There are plenty of good left-handed hitters, and there are a lot of [switch hitters]. Listen, if you’re throwing quality pitches, if you’re lefty or righty, you’re got a chance to get people out.”
That’s what it comes down to in Ventura’s mind, as well.
“It’s what we have,’’ he said of the predominantly left-handed rotation. “Would you like to have a little bit of everything? Maybe you’re a little more balanced that way. But I just want our best pitchers, and they happen to be left-handed.”
Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.