After 81 games, the White Sox have a 46-35 record and a 1.5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins. This surprising turnaround has been largely due to the performance of the White Sox's starting rotation. Before the season started, I made this claim in my season preview article:
"The overall success of this rotation (and the team, for that matter) will depend on John Danks, Jose Contreras, and Gavin Floyd."
Let's start with Danks, who has turned himself into arguably the best pitcher in this starting rotation. His 5-4 record is not indicative of how well he has pitched, as his ERA sits at 2.62, good for fifth best in all of baseball.
The addition of a cut fastball to Danks' repertoire has done wonders for the 23-year-old lefthander. He's using it to jam hitters inside and set up his curveball and changeup. His mound presence has changed dramatically from 2007 to 2008, and he just looks like a more confident pitcher.
The scary (in a good way) thing about Danks is that he hasn't come close to reaching his full potential. His pitch counts are still a bit too high for an ace, as he usually finds himself at 100 or so pitches after six innings of work. Once his pitch count starts coming down, and he's able to pitch into the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, Danks is really going to take off and become a true ace of this staff.
Nobody knew what to expect out of Jose Contreras after a miserable 2007 that saw him get dropped from the starting rotation after posting an ERA above 6.00 in the first few months of the season.
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