During six-game winning streak vs. two 2015 playoff teams, #WhiteSox have outscored Texas, Toronto 34-10— Scot Gregor (@scotgregor) April 28, 2016
White Sox beat Blue Jays 4-0 for their first three-game sweep at the Rogers Centre since 2005. Sox are 16-6.— Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) April 28, 2016
White Sox are good.— James Fegan (@JRFegan) April 28, 2016
The Chicago White Sox have played 22 games and the starters have allowed two runs or fewer in 15 of those games. In three others, they allowed just three runs. The rotation has a 2.65 ERA, they're tied with the Chicago Cubs for the major league lead with 16 quality starts, the Sox have won six in a row and they're 16-6. In other words: The Sox are making an early statement reminding everyone that Chicago is still a two-team city.
Jose Quintana, a.k.a. Most Underrated Pitcher In The Game™, spun the latest gem, tossing six scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. He's 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA and has yet to allow a home run. He, Chris Sale and Mat Latos have combined for this pitching line: 93 IP, 60 H, 16 R, 20 BB, 77 SO, 4 HR, 1.35 ERA.
The back end of the bullpen has been dominant as well. Matt Albers is working on a streak of 30 consecutive scoreless appearances dating to last August. Nate Jones has allowed three hits and one run in 10 2/3 innings. Closer David Robertson has allowed one run in 10 1/3 innings. That's how you start out 16-6.
Against Quintana, the Blue Jays tried the "Don't Swing" approach. They swung at just 32 of his 104 pitches, when a normal rate against Quintana is close to 50 percent. It didn't work; Quintana fired 17 first-pitch strikes to the 25 batters he faced. He masterfully mixed up those 25 pitches: Six of the first seven batters saw fastballs, but his final mix was 15 fastballs, seven curveballs and three changeups.
As a result of taking so many pitches, 16 batters found themselves in two-strike counts and the Jays went 0-for-14 with 10 K's in those situations. Quintana struck out Jose Bautista three times -- all on fastballs, twice looking. In fact, remarkably, all 10 of Quintana's strikeouts came on fastballs. He had them guessing wrong all game.
The White Sox are allowing 2.4 runs per game, which is obviously unsustainable. Heck, the 1906 White Sox team known as the Hitless Wonders that won the World Series while hitting .230 with seven home runs all season allowed 3.0 runs per game. Quintana will give up a long ball at some point. Latos' BABIP will increase from its ridiculous .167 mark. Sale ... well, Sale might not lose the way he's pitching.
Anyway, it's a fun start and they're doing it with Jose Abreu hitting just .190/.271/.333. Still, I can see a couple of ways the White Sox can improve their roster down the road:
1. Find a couple of bench players. Right now, the White Sox are carrying just 12 position players, which means they're wasting a couple of roster spots on relievers who can't even get into games considering how well the rotation has been pitching. Abreu, Brett Lawrie, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson have played in every game and Adam Eaton all but one. That's fine, as long as they all stay healthy, but it's likely that at some point, they'll have to tap into the reserves. Right now, that's light-hitting infielder Tyler Saladino, outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands and backup catcher Hector Sanchez.
2. Get a big bat. Is Jackson the season-long answer in center field? Is Avisail Garcia really the guy you want as full-time DH? The offense still projects to have some on-base issues, hence the need for another hitter at DH or outfield. Of course, everyone in the American League is looking for a hitter and the ones who might eventually be available -- Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez -- carry big contracts. Gonzalez is a possibility since his deal runs only through 2017, but the Colorado Rockies have been unwilling to move him. Jay Bruce would be a lower-cost alternative and his deal expires after this season.
3. Trade for a fifth starter. John Danks isn't terrible but he was basically replacement level last season, and he's off to a bad start this year. Forget that he's making $15.75 million; it's an area you can possibly upgrade, and one or two additional wins could make all the difference in a tight AL playoff race. Former prospects Jacob Turner and Erik Johnson are the leading candidates at Triple-A if the Sox want to promote, but they aren't likely to be any better than Danks.