The 2013 season was one of disappointment for the Chicago White Sox. With the underachieving play of a majority of the roster, fantasy owners found diminutive value in most of the players. However, one area of the team that had value was the pitching staff due to the success of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. In 2014 the pitching staff will have a mix of proven starters as well as young hurlers that will have their first taste of a 162 game season. This variety provides fantasy owners with an array of intriguing options that can help them win a championship.
2014 Chicago White Sox - Pitching Staff Preview
Chris Sale - 11, 3.07, 1.07, 226, 0
Sale showed the baseball world that he is the ace of the White Sox staff. What shocked fantasy owners was Sale increasing his strikeout total (from 192 to 226) while pitching in 30 games for the second straight year. Sale also led the league in complete games with four. Fantasy owners have two issues with Sale moving forward: his arm and his fastball. After being shut down for a brief time with arm pain, Sale bounced back to have an All-Star season. However, some skeptics believe it is just a matter of time before his innings get reduced. In regards to his fastball, Sale has lost some velocity since his days of being a closer. While these worries still persist, Sale should be one of the first seven to ten starters taken in any fantasy draft. His fastball and slider combination will keep his strikeout total high and his WHIP low. Even on a White Sox team that may finish close to five hundred, Sale will give owners a solid number two in any fantasy rotation.
Projected 2014 Stats: 16, 3.03, 1.05, 235, 0
Where to select in draft: Second Round
Jose Quintana - 9, 3.51, 1.22, 164, 0
Quintana, along with Sale, was one of the only bright spots on the 2013 White Sox. Entering into 2013, critics believed that Quintana would see a major decline in his velocity while he accumulated more innings. Two hundred innings later, there was never a decrease in Quintana’s velocity or his effectiveness with his off speed pitches. While Quintana will never blow batters away with an average fastball of 92, if he continues to improve the other pitches in his arsenal (curve, cutter, change, and sinker ) he can improve on the 4.7 strikeouts per start he had last season.
Projected Stats: 12, 3.47, 1.20, 178, 0
Where to select in draft: Late Rounds (one of last pitchers in your rotation)
John Danks - 4, 4.75, 1.29, 89, 0
John Danks enters 2014 as a question mark fantasy wise. In 2010, when Danks was healthy, he averaged 5.1 strikeouts per start and had 15 wins on the season. Coming off of shoulder surgery, Danks started 22 games but only accumulated four wins. Part of the problem for his low win total was the horrid defense the White Sox ran out behind him. With Danks healthier, and with less pressure as the number three starter, look for him to be a solid back end of the starter/emergency starter on fantasy teams. Danks is better than most opposing pitchers he may face, so if the offense puts runs on the boards, he might go back to his 2008-2010 days when he generated double digit wins.
Projected 2014 Stats: 10, 4.55, 1.20, 123, 0
Where to select in draft: Do not draft. However, keep an eye on Danks for emergency starts throughout the season.
Erik Johnson - 3, 3.25, 1.55, 18, 0
If there is one sleeper in the White Sox rotation, it is Johnson. What makes Johnson so intriguing is his ability to get hitters out with his demoralizing sinker. Sporting a career 1.08 WHIP in the minors, Johnson has the ability to keep opponents off the base paths. Look for Johnson, like Danks, to be a viable option for any emergency starts you may need.
Projected 2014 Stats: 10, 3.99, 1.36, 115, 0
Where to select in draft: Do not draft. Johnson is another viable option for a spot start. Late in the season, if your team is decimated by injuries, look to pick up Johnson for the stretch run.
Felipe Paulino from 2012 with Kansas City - 3, 1.67, 1.22, 39, 0
Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Paulino looks to crack the White Sox rotation as their fifth starter. Two things to keep an eye on in Spring Training are Paulino’s pitching motion and his weight, which have caused health issues in the past. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn thinks Paulino can play a key role and may surprise people. Realistically, fantasy owners should expect Paulino to put up similar numbers to the 2005 version of Orlando Hernandez (9, 5.12, 1.46, 91, 1). Unless you are very desperate, or are a part of the Felipe Paulino fan club, he is not worth the risk.
Projected 2014 Stats: 7, 5.03, 1.43, 102, 0
Where to select in draft: Do not draft. He is worth a flier come July if he has proven he is healthy.
Andre Rienzo - 2, 4.82, 1.48, 38, 0
Rienzo made history last season when he became the first pitcher from Brazil to make it to the big leagues. He was the first sign that the Sox were rebuilding, but proved to be nothing too special while accumulating an average of 3.8 strikeouts per start. His ERA and WHIP skyrocketed after the opponents started to have extensive scouting reports on him. In 2014 Rienzo most likely will be slotted as a long relief man, eliminating much fantasy value. Realistically Rienzo could finish with Dylan Axelrod like numbers (4. 5.68,1.66, 73,0), which are a fantasy owners’ nightmare.
Projected 2014 Stats: 5, 4.73, 1.50, 75, 0
Where to select in draft: Do not draft. Only put Rienzo on your roster if you have an obsession with Brazilians.
Nate Jones - 4, 4.15, 1.22, 89, 0
With the White Sox trading former closer Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks, Jones is the favorite to take over the ninth inning role. Despite his sophomore slump, Jones has all the makings of a fantasy diamond in the rough. In seventy appearances last season, Jones averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. This was an increase from his rookie average of 8.2 per. Jones struggled at the beginning of last season but was able to turn it around by improving his slider. Throwing his slider close to 15% more after June 1st of last season, Jones was able to increase his strikeout total, while decreasing his WHIP and ERA. His fastball averaged 97.8 and he is young enough that his arm does not have a lot of mileage. Look for Jones to have a smooth transition into the closer role, and be a late round steal come draft time.
Projected 2014 Stats: 5, 3.44, 1.18, 77, 33
Where to select in draft: Late rounds as a second closer/relief pitcher on your roster. Unlike other young closers in their first season in their new role, Jones is a polished pitcher with a devastating out pitch.