Rongey: Pitching has not been the problem for Chicago White Sox

  • White Sox pitcher John Danks has been better than the American League fifth-starter average this season.

    White Sox pitcher John Danks has been better than the American League fifth-starter average this season. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 7/28/2015 6:17 AM

I often try to remind people that a baseball season is a long one, even though many tire of hearing it.

Still, it's true. The season is long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Maybe not in the amount of months, but in the number of games crammed into those months. It's so long you'll often forget what you thought about your team just 12 weeks prior.

So, it might be difficult to recall that it wasn't too long ago we were wondering aloud whether the White Sox would have the payroll flexibility to buy at the trade deadline, considering they had committed so much cash during the off-season.

Remember those days? The promise of the upcoming season was such we thought the Sox might add reinforcements for a playoff fight.

Now that feels like an eternity ago. And instead of wondering if the Sox will make a push for an all-star third baseman for the stretch run, we're wondering just how much of this roster will remain in tact after Friday.

It hasn't gone the way any of us had hoped. Certainly, it was no secret the Sox had roster deficiencies before the year began, but the assumption was the rest of the team would be competent enough to make the season competitive.

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The division is flawed enough to leave an opening, we thought. Obviously, that's not how it has worked out.

It's the offense that has done the Sox in, contributing historically scarce production. As scarce as any other offense in baseball.

What makes this season even tougher to accept is the White Sox are employing a pitching staff that would most certainly have been effective enough to win a division, and even make noise in the postseason.

That's not to say Sox pitching is the best in the American League, but it compares favorably to the best. It's difficult to assemble that kind of staff.

In fact, Sox pitching Wins Above Replacement is better than any other team in the league, its Fielding Independent Pitching is third best, and its WHIP and opponent average is fifth overall. The rotation ranks second of 15 teams in FIP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And, as you'll probably be shocked to learn, the Sox are pitching better out of the fifth spot in the rotation than almost every other team.

That's right, John Danks is better than AL fifth-starter average.

No, really.

Looking at the numbers of pitchers throwing primarily in the fifth position, or those who are putting up the worst numbers in each rotation, you'll find only four teams are doing arguably better there: Texas, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Oakland. The Yankees are getting better work out of their "fifth starters," but their worst starter this year has been CC Sabathia, technically not their No. 5.

You can look at various numbers and produce multiple different take-aways, but the overall truth is the Sox' fifth starter is no more a liability than it is for any other team. Forget the contract. It was signed four years ago.

My point is, the White Sox' pitching staff, as a whole, is doing its job, and doing it well. All it really needed was just a little help from the bats and we'd be having a much different trade-deadline discussion right now.

• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter@ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com.

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