Cooper sees pitchers stepping up their games

Cooper sees pitchers stepping up their games

Cooper sees pitchers stepping up their games
CHICAGO -- Aside from a handful of September callups, pitching coach Don Cooper expects the pitchers currently in place for the White Sox to be the men pushing the team toward the postseason and beyond.

And it's not a bad group with which to go into battle. Take the bullpen, as a recent example.

During the last 15 games, coinciding with when the White Sox acquired Brett Myers from Houston, the relievers have a 1.52 ERA with a .194 opponents average against. The bullpen ERA has dropped from 4.07 to 3.68 during that span.

Then, there's the White Sox pitchers as a whole getting it done with the game on the line. In the last 14 games, opponents have a .165 average with runners in scoring position that includes the Rangers finishing 1-for-31 in those situations during a series in Arlington from July 27-29. According to Cooper, pitchers turning their game up a notch with a runner on second or third isn't exactly stressed with extra importance by the White Sox leaders.

"We want quality pitching and to get everybody out all the time," said Cooper, whose staff ranks third in the American League with a .242 opponents' average with RISP. "But that's a good thing. That means, so far, when guys are in scoring position, we are making the pitches.

"It just means we have quality pitchers that are making quality pitches in key situations. For a lot of teams, the difference between a win or a loss are situations with two out and men in scoring position."

As for the White Sox adding another possible innings-eater to the rotation, Cooper has never been one to focus on what he doesn't have. Instead, he's ready for a strong finishing kick from the five-man rotation in place.

First-year starter Chris Sale and rookie Jose Quintana will take advantage of four off-days the rest of the way. Philip Humber and Hector Santiago, who is being stretched out as a starter with Triple-A Charlotte, could even get a spot-start in September.

Otherwise, pitching every fifth day seems to be on the horizon for Sale and Quintana.

"That's what you gotta do. That's normal," Sale said. "Just take it day by day and get my work in and make sure I'm ready every fifth day out there."