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updated: 3/19/2017 7:15 PM

Chicago White Sox can wait for next wave of quality starters

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  • Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez throws against the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Phoenix.

    Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez throws against the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Phoenix.

 
 

If there has been one constant with the Chicago White Sox over the past 20-25 years, it's been starting pitching.

Solid starting pitching.

Under pitching coach Don Cooper, the Sox lead the major leagues with 1,252 quality starts since 2003.

Dating to the early 1990s, they've had a strong stable of starting pitchers: Jack McDowell, Alex Fernandez, Wilson Alvarez, Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Esteban Loaiza, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana.

A star-studded starting five paid off in 2005, when Buehrle, Contreras, Garcia and Garland led the White Sox to a World Series championship.

The torch eventually was passed to Sale and Quintana, but the Sox posted losing records in each of the past four seasons.

The run of futility has led to a rebuild, and Sale was the first to go. The ace left-hander was traded to Boston in December, and general manager Rick Hahn is still waiting for the right offer on Quintana.

This season's rotation is nothing to get excited about outside of Carlos Rodon, who had some injury issues last year and didn't make his first Cactus League start until Sunday.

Assuming Quintana is moved at some point before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, Rodon will rise to the top of the rotation if he can stay healthy. The 24-year-old lefty pitched 4 scoreless innings in his exhibition debut against the Los Angeles Angels.

Miguel Gonzalez, Derek Holland and James Shields fill out the current starting five, but they are just holding spots until Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Carson Fulmer are ready to contribute.

Giolito and Lopez were acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade, and Kopech was one of four prospects acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Sale.

Giolito is ranked No. 25 on Baseball America's top prospects list, Lopez is No. 31 and Kopech is No. 32, but the White Sox see no need to rush any of them to the major leagues.

"As we've talked about over the years, the good ones kind of have a way of forcing that timeline on you and a couple of them, Giolito and Lopez, have already made it to the big leagues," Hahn said. "With each of the players we acquired we still feel there's a fair amount of development left, which is going to happen in the minors.

"You've seen a level of aggressiveness out of us in recent years in terms of our promotions. At this point going forward, we're really not going to have anyone in Chicago until they've answered any questions we've had for them at the minor-league level and we feel they're ready to succeed."

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