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Jose Contreras Is (on his way to) History

The White Sox have now lost their last 8 games started by Jose Contreras, a streak which started before the All-Star break last season with a 22-hit loss to the Matt Harrison-led Rangers.

It's the longest such streak since... the Sox lost 9 straight Contreras starts in '07.

But that streak probably doesn't count. Contreras was removed from the rotation in the middle of that streak and actually earned a victory pitching out of the bullpen in an extra innings game. So it's actually the longest streak for a guy who made only appearances in the rotation since '06 when the Sox lost a retrosheet-era team record 10 straight Javier Vazquez starts. But Vazquez pitched pretty well over those 10 starts, with an ERA of 4.22. He just happened to be the recipient of 1.8 runs of support over those games including a 1-0 complete game loss to Kason Gabbard and the Red Sox.

Contreras... hasn't.

The End of Jose Contreras

2009 0-5 6 6 0 0 0 0 29.2 40 30 27 4 16 17 8.19 1.89
Losing Streak 0-5 8 8 0 0 0 0 35.1 53 37 34 5 18 21 8.66 2.03

The beat writers have been asking about removing Contreras from the rotation since his third start of the season. Looking at those numbers above, with Contreras showing no signs of improvement, control that can only be described as deficient, no forkball and only an occasionally passable slider, there's not much argument for keeping him in the rotation. Ozzie Guillen agrees:

"We are going to start somebody elese (sic) against Cleveland. We've got give days to figure that out (who).

"Jose feels bad, disappointed like everybody else. It's not fair to the club -- or to him -- to keep sending him out there," Guillen said, indicating the team will make a decision in the coming days once everyone has had a chance to discuss what's best for Contreras. "He's not happy with himself. He feels like he let the team down.

"We need to figure out how to get him back on track."

But a quick look at the pitchers who would be called upon to replace him, and you can easily see why the Sox have given Contreras so much rope.

  • Personal favorite Jack Egbert hasn't even been able to get AAA hitters out this season.
  • Lance Broadway -- NO
  • Aaron Poreda might be the best option, but he's still learning how to throw off-speed pitches in Birmingham, which is a good reason to ignore his stats and trust the Sox scouts. He'll be up when they say he's ready, or when the Sox feel he can learn on the fly at the big league level.
  • Clayton Richard seems like the most likely candidate, as the only member of this list who was legitimately competing for a starting spot in spring training. But Ozzie only used him for an inning tonight and might not want to move him for fear of having on one lefty in the pen.
  • DJ Carrasco is a nice low-leverage swingman who might be able to give you a decent start in a doubleheader or suspension situation, but you don't want to turn to his two-pitch repertoire every 5 days.
  • Scott Gregor has floated the name Carlos Torres, who's a guy I've paid zero attention to over the years. He's having a nice season so far in Charlotte, but, but, just ask Larry. I'm not really qualified to lodge much of an opinion here.
  • Others have speculated that Wes Whisler could be a candidate, but he doesn't have the minor league track record to suggest his good start to the season is anything more than a fluke.

Is this the end of Jose Contreras in White Sox uniform?

It would be foolhardy to give up on Contreras with nobody banging on the door screaming Look at me! I can get major league hitters out. And he can easily fill the Lance Broadway role of pitching only in blowouts (or the 11th inning of a tie game with a well-rested Bobby Jenks eating candy in the bullpen). So Contreras isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Personally, I feel bad for Contreras. He struggled with some nagging injuries last year that took a few MPH off his fastball. He took a little break, and when he finally came back and appeared to be throwing well he blew out his Achilles. So he worked his ass off in the off-season to get back into shape and beat everyone's expectations by legitimately making the opening day roster only to lay an egg in each of the season's first 6 starts and be removed from the rotation.

Maybe he pushed too hard to get back from the injury. Maybe he just needs to work every other day in the pen to get the feel for his forkball and remember how to throw a well-located fastball.

Maybe he's done for good.