Inserting Santiago into the rotation puts a southpaw against a Cleveland team with a 16-35 record against left-handed starters. It also buys an extra day of rest for Jake Peavy, setting up the right-hander for Thursday's series opener against the Rays, and it looked as if it would do the same for Chris Sale, who Tuesday morning was slated to pitch the regular-season home finale on Sunday.
Sale was to get a fifth day of rest after throwing 118 pitches over seven innings during Monday's no-decision and as he sits 11 1/3 innings short of 200 in his first year as a starter. After Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field, that rotation alignment was altered.
Gavin Floyd will pitch Friday, with Sale throwing on regular rest Saturday. Jose Quintana, who faced two batters in relief Tuesday and threw four pitches in the seventh inning, has temporarily been scratched and Sunday's starter is to be announced.
Using Sale on Sunday would have meant the All-Star and American League Cy Young candidate wasn't going be available to start a potential Game No. 163, winner-take-all AL Central tiebreaker at Comerica Park on three days' rest on Oct. 4. The White Sox hope to have the division locked up without going to the tiebreaker, and the extra starters' rest could reap benefits, but they just might have been playing it safe with the postgame Sale change.
Results from the next couple of days still could influence Saturday and Sunday's starters and the pitching lineup for the final regular-season series in Cleveland.
On five days' rest this season, Sale has a 9-3 record with a 3.11 ERA. Peavy doesn't fare quite as well, at 3-6 with a 3.71 ERA, but Quintana is 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA.
Santiago has made previous September starts against the Twins and Royals, allowing one run in nine innings, while striking out 14 and walking six. He threw before Sunday's game and then during the game, while basically throwing another bullpen session late in Monday's come-from-behind victory.
The primary goal for Santiago is to work deep into Wednesday's contest but really just give the White Sox a chance to win against a lefty-laden Cleveland lineup.
"You watch other guys get them out. You learn from them. I'm [glad] they consider me for that," said Santiago of facing the Indians. "I feel like I have a tougher time [against left-handed hitters] because of my slider, but I don't go out there and think about that."
Right-handed hitters are neutralized by Santiago's screwball, a pitch holding high confidence in his current repertoire.
"It's good right now. I've been throwing it for the past two, three weeks when I had those two starts," Santiago said. "Those two starts helped me get back into the fill of it. [Catcher] A.J. [Pierzynski] has been comfortable with it and called it three times in a row in an at-bat, so it's right where it was at in Spring Training."