Taking the 5th, White Sox Starting Pitching Options

Paul M. Banks 

Now that Jose Contreras (0-5, 8.19 ERA) is gone, hopefully, his replacement will keep the White Sox rotation from spinning off its axis every fifth day.

Contreras was contrarian to the Sox winning ballgames, so he’ll go and attempt to work out his issues at AAA Charlotte.

On Wednesday Clayton Richard, the former University of Michigan quarterback, will take his spot in the rotation when the Sox play at Cleveland. Richard was a somewhat effective spot starter and solid reliever down the stretch last season. His rookie season contributions during a division championship run were reminiscent of another rookie in another championship season: Brandon McCarthy, who stepped up down the stretch of the 2005 championship year.

Richard gets the first opportunity, but if he fails, here’s the other “options.

Lance “jazz hands” Broadway- His name sounds like a stage alias in a really bad musical. And his fastball is equally lacking in intimidation. I don’t think Pitching Coach Don Cooper legitimately considers a Broadway audition because his velocity is impressive…if you’re pitching for the Schaumburg Flyers or Gary Southshore RailCats.

Jeff Marquez- Remember when he was considered to be a front-runner for the 5th starter position? Ancient history now as he’s on the DL with a 0-4 record and 14.15 ERA in AAA ball. Forget about the strides he made this spring. Fellow farmhand Jack Egbert was also considered an option earlier this year, but has similarly since fallen out of favor.

Wes Whisler- He has a 3-2 2.12 ERA as a starter in AAA and led the Knights in victories and games started last season- good for 10th in the International League ERA race. The 26-year-old prospect ranked second in wins, fourth in IP and ninth in ERA among all Sox farmhands. He wasn’t initially rated to be much of a prospect, but then again the Sox have fired people in their scouting department in recent years for a reason.

Hopefully, this situation won’t turn into another 2004, when it seemed like there was a new 5th starter every week. One of these youngsters should step up, otherwise it might be time to give the agents of Jason Grilli or Freddy Garcia a call. Lord help us if it someday comes to that.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank