Sox rotation has highs and lows

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura often points to his team’s pitching as the reason they’re in first place in the American League Central.

“It starts with pitching,” Ventura said prior to Tuesday’s game.

On the one hand, he’s correct.

White Sox starters Chris Sale and Jake Peavy have been as good as nearly any pitching duo in baseball this season. They’ve been like having starters 1A and 1B.

Peavy is 6-1 with a 3.05 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and has 68 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. Sale is 7-2 with a 2.30 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and has 69 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings. They both rank in the top five in WHIP and top 10 in ERA and strikeouts in the American League.

Then on other hand, the rest of the White Sox’s starting rotation has been inconsistent and often mediocre.

John Danks has been far from the ace the White Sox hoped for and paid him to be this season. After some early struggles, he looked as if he was improving in his start against the Chicago Cubs on May 19, but a day later he felt discomfort in his shoulder and has since been on the disabled list. He’s 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA.

Gavin Floyd, No. 3 in the rotation to start the year, had a stretch this season where he threw the ball well, but his minuses have now come to outweigh his pluses. He’s allowed five or more runs in five starts, including his last four, this season. He’s 4-5 with a 5.32 ERA.

Finally, there’s Philip Humber. Humber stood at the pinnacle of the pitching mountain when he threw a perfect game earlier this season, but he’s otherwise struggled mostly. He’s allowed five or more runs in four starts and is 2-3 with a 5.68 ERA.

What the White Sox have been able to do in their division so far -- they lead the Cleveland Indians by 1 ½ games -- is impressive considering three of their starters have been unreliable more often than not. The trio of pitchers has combined to allow 179 hits, 109 runs, 67 walks, and 28 home runs in 176 2/3 innings.

Humber wasn’t any help to the White Sox in Tuesday’s 9-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. He walked three batters and walked in a run in the first inning and later allowed two home runs in the fifth inning. He gave up seven hits, five runs, two home runs and four walks in five innings.

“I would love to go out there and be good,” Humber said after Tuesday’s game. “I know I’m capable of it. If you allow your struggles to make you stronger, they will. I’m going to be really strong after all these struggles. Just got to keep fighting. It’s a long season, and, of course, I want to be out there being consistent and helping the guys out. Right now, I’m not pulling my share of the rope.”

Ventura said Tuesday he was confident Floyd and Humber were going to improve. Expectations will be high for Danks, too, when he returns to the rotation sometime in the next few weeks.

“They’re going to work through it,” Ventura said. “They just need to get through it. They have the stuff. It’s just being able to get through it.”

For now, the White Sox are getting through the American League Central despite the inconsistencies of three starters.