For now, Ozzie won't lose that Humber

Because things were always better than they used to be -- and because 30 teams and limited resources thin out the talent -- there are a lot of people who would like to see the five-man rotation lose a member.

The White Sox, at least for the time being, are going the other way with it. Jake Peavy will not force anybody out of the rotation when he makes his first start of the season on Wednesday. Instead, Ozzie Guillen will reward Phil Humber and the gang for a job well done, expanding the rotation to a half-dozen through the rest of the week. Everybody keeps their jobs! Temporarily.

Certainly it's hard to justify removing any one pitcher from the lineup -- especially when Phil Humber, the only guy who wasn't supposed to be in the discussion, has gotten better results than everybody else on the staff.

But everybody justified their existences, too, resulting in a startlingly great week of pitching:

Date Pitcher
IP
H
R
ER
HR
BB
K
May 2 Mark Buehrle
6.2
8
0
0
0
4
4
May 3 Edwin Jackson
8
6
1
1
1
1
2
May 4 John Danks
8
8
3
3
0
3
0
May 6 Philip Humber
7
3
2
2
0
3
4
May 7 Gavin Floyd
8
3
0
0
0
2
6
May 8 Buehrle
8
9
2
2
0
0
3
May 9 Jackson
7
5
0
0
0
1
5
Total 3-2, 1.37 ERA
52.2
42
8
8
1
14
24

 

Keeping all starters in line for one more week makes sense on all fronts, because while the Sox are expanding the rotation instead of contracting it (like they did in September of 2008), the thought process is the same. Every start is important, and the Sox can't assume they'll know what the picture looks like the next time through the rotation.

This time, they're not watching the standings nearly as much as they're watching Peavy -- although wins and losses count way more than they should at this time of the year.

With the injury Peavy is coming back from, nobody can state with any degree of certainty what the weeks ahead will look like. Who knows whether he'll be effective? Or, if he's effective, whether he'll be able to do it again five or six days later? The Sox will probably be far more cautious with Peavy than they ever have before -- especially since Peavy has said that it's not his fault -- and keeping Humber on a regular rotation will prevent both parties from feeling the need to push through unusual levels and kinds of pain.

The only drawback is that it will cost the Sox a reliever, and the six-man bullpen didn't work out so well the last time around. Nobody needs a seventh guy during stretches like the past week, but Peavy's start will require a long reliever on hand just in case, and the Sox are due for a stinker from somebody else, too. That means dormant bullpen figures like Chris Sale, Tony Pena and Will Ohman will have to step up, and Matt Thornton will have to string together good results regardless of circumstances.

It's somewhat ironic that Peavy's return will likely put more stress on the bullpen. That's not a desirable scenario, but it's can't really be considered "bad." It's just reality, and actually, reality is kind of on their side.

Reality says the Sox can't run from their relief problems with a two-man bullpen, but it also says that Kenny Williams did due diligence to construct an effective and versatile corps. The performances actually have to bear that out at some point if the Sox want to contend, so now's a good as time as any to prove the projections correct.

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