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Ruminations on a White Sox pitching staff in flux

Nate Jones deserves to have a photo once in a while.
Nate Jones deserves to have a photo once in a while.

With Addison Reed blowing his first save after Jose Quintana pitched the game of his life and Zach Stewart stealing a start today with the intent of giving Jake Peavy and Chris Sale an extra day or two off, there's a lot of pitching to talk about, so sit back for a thought-strafing...

Jose Quintana

Conventional wisdom says that Quintana isn't a 1.53 ERA pitcher, no matter how his eight sexy scoreless, walkless innings might tease.

Contemporary box scores suggest that Gavin Floyd might not be a 10+ ERA pitcher, but damn it if he doesn't keep pitching like it.

Basically, Quintana's emergence might be a mirage in the big picture, but on a team with an injured Opening Day starter and two others throwing batting practice, his success is both quite tangible and appreciated. In the postgame reaction to his gem, Tyler Flowers basically reaffirmed what Paul Konerko said about his previous start:

"He located pretty much everything," catcher Tyler Flowers said. "We used all the pitches. He got burned on a changeup Juan Uribe hit.

‘‘He hit my glove, and if he missed, it was in a good spot off the plate where they couldn’t hurt us. That’s what he’s done every time out.’’

He's lefty, he can crack 90, and he can hit both sides of the plate and all four corners of the strike zone. There's some kind of future in the big leagues with that skill set, and the future is now. Until it isn't.

Addison Reed

I was on the side that wanted Quintana to go for the complete game on Sunday. Partially because of novelty (I'm a sucker for a good story), partially because there were no signs of fatigue on Quintana's part, nor recognition by the Dodger hitters.

Also, Reed would be facing the same team on consecutive days, and doing so with a fastball. That's what he got beat on. Bobby Abreu singled on a pretty high fastball, but it was the third straight one he saw. Elian Herrera was lucky to muscle his grounder through the right side, and he got around on the second of two fastballs.

Misfortune played a bigger part than poor location, but Reed could stand to offer more mystery. He's throwing his fastball more than 80 percent of the time, and he has his reasons, given either the success rates or the aesthetics. His fastball is getting more swings and misses than his slider, which seems to have more Frisbee action than sharp break at the moment.

Lest I make too big a deal about this, a few reminders -- he's a rookie, he's the White Sox's best reliever, and he's been short on reps this month. I'd be surprised if his slider isn't an outstanding offering by the end of the season. I'm just a little wary about teams getting too many looks at one particular pitch. We saw it with Matt Thornton, when he would be used to retire some permutation of Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner two games in a row (and once three times over a four-game series). The task tended to get tougher.

Speaking of which...

Matt Thornton

Forces continue to conspire against Thornton, as Jordan Danks turned a single into a triple and essentially set up Thornton for failure. He needed to get two outs with the game-winning run on third, and he could only get one.

As he pitches into the third month of the season, it's easy to notice that he isn't able to overcome mistakes himself the way he used to. He's striking out just 7.4 batters per nine innings, down from 9.5 last year and 12 in 2010. Even when he struggled over the first two months last season, he found a way to strike out better than a batter per inning.

And here's a weird split: Opponents are hitting .328/.392/.463 off Thornton in night games. It's not unusual for pitchers to fare better during the day, whether it's because they can see the ball better, or because they're not battling "flu-like symptoms."

Over the last three years, Thornton's splits have been wider than most. This year is taking it to a whole new level. It's not a number I'd give any significant amount of weight, but it'll be interesting to see whether normalization makes his life (and ours) any easier.

John Danks

The words "Dr. Lewis Yocum" aren't ones you want to hear when discussing a pitcher injury, but Danks seemed to dodge a bullet after getting his sore shoulder checked out. The good news is a lack of bad news.

Still, it doesn't seem like anybody has to worry about making room for Quintana in the near future.

Zach Stewart

Looks like Zach Braff when he takes off his cap. With another crosstown series upon us, opportunities for "Scrubs" references abound, one way or another.

Nate Jones

3-0, 2.14 ERA, 33.2 IP, 26 H, 2 HR, 11 BB, 33 K, 1.10 WHIP.

I have nothing to say about Jones in particular at this time, which is nice.