The 2013 Chicago White Sox are going improve upon their record in 2012. Matter of fact, the White Sox will make the playoffs in 2013.
The White Sox are not going to get there because of the recent addition of Jeff Keppinger. Rather, it is their pitching that will take them to the postseason in 2013, starting at the top.
Chris Sale (17-8, 3.05 ERA) stands to build upon his breakout 2012 season. He is taking steps to ensure that his arm is stronger going into the 2013 season after setting career high in starts (29) and innings pitched (192) last year.
First-year manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper seemed to do a very good job ensuring that Sale was not overworked. They gave the left-hander extended periods of rest between starts multiple times last year, which will pay dividends in 2013.
Following Sale at the top of the rotation will be Jake Peavy. Fresh off a two-year, $29 million extension, Peavy (11-12, 3.37) should be able to repeat his dominant 2012 showing.
It appears that the injuries which plagued Peavy are behind him, and he is being counted on to be a leader on and off the mound by the White Sox.
While Sale and Peavy figure to occupy the top two spots in the rotation, John Danks should open the season as the No. 3 starter. Now, Danks is coming off in-season surgery to clean up his left shoulder, but he should be ready for the start of the season.
All told, the White Sox have six—potentially seven if you include Dylan Axelrod—starting pitchers on the 40-man roster.
Even if Gavin Floyd is traded, as is being rumored, the White Sox will be in great shape. Ventura and Cooper simply have to fill in the back end of the rotation and the White Sox instantly have one of the best starting five in the American League.
Like the rotation, the bullpen figures to be an area of strength for the White Sox.
The top five relievers last season—Nate Jones, Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton—combined to win 21 games and none of them had a WHIP above 1.381.
And if Santiago ends up in the starting rotation, Donnie Veal proved himself highly capable in 2012 against left-handed hitters. Veal retired 26 consecutive left-handed hitters at one point before allowing a double to Shin-Soo Choo.
The talent pool in the bullpen figures to get deeper. CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes recently reported that general manager Rick Hahn is actively exploring options to replace the sure-to-be departed Brett Myers.
As it stands, the White Sox have a very good pitching staff already in place, and it will only get better with some additions.
Don't forget, if the pitching did not fade at the end of the year, the White Sox could have made the playoffs. Ventura told the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales that the pitching staff was as culpable as the offense was for the late-season collapse.
Don't expect the offense to do much more than it did in 2012, which is fine. The lineup is what it is—home-run heavy and pretty slow—but timely pitching can make up for that.
Granted, the 25-man roster has not been finalized and it is only December, but the Sox have a solid pitching core with or without Floyd.
Also, the rookie pitchers who were called upon to do so much in 2012 now have the benefit of having gone through it before.
Another year older and another year wiser, if you will.
Look for the White Sox to avoid a letdown with their pitching staff in 2013 and make the playoffs.
*Stats and rankings courtesy of BaseballReference.com