Veteran right-hander one of the best in American League when he's on
By Cash Kruth
PHOENIX -- Chris Sale is coming off a Cy Young Award-caliber season.
Jake Peavy experienced a bounce-back year in 2012.
John Danks is returning from a left shoulder injury that cost him all but nine games last season, and second-year lefty Jose Quintana has a firm hold on the rotation's No. 5 spot.
And then there's Gavin Floyd -- the forgotten man of the White Sox rotation.
"No, not at all," Floyd said with a laugh when asked if he viewed it that way. "I think it's a normal Spring Training for me. I just go in there and do my job. That's my focus."
Given the understandable excitement for Sale's encore, Peavy's re-signing and Danks' return, it's easy for the 30-year-old Floyd to sneak under the radar. After all, he's been doing it pretty much his entire White Sox career, at least in terms of getting his due around the league.
Floyd ranks fifth in wins, sixth in quality starts and innings pitched, and seventh in strikeouts among American League right-handers since 2008. He's also posted double-digit wins five consecutive seasons, joining Kansas City's James Shields, Detroit's Justin Verlander and Los Angeles' Jered Weaver as the only four AL pitchers to do so.
Seeing the names Floyd accompanies on that list -- who, especially in Verlander and Weaver's case, are among the the top pitchers in the game -- might be a bit surprising.
And while these next few names are a notch below that trio, consider Floyd's numbers from 2008-12 compared to the top hurlers (Edwin Jackson, Anibel Sanchez and Kyle Lohse) on this offseason's free-agent market.
Good company for Gavin
Gavin Floyd vs. top free-agent pitchers this offseason
Stats from 2008-12
Floyd ranks first in ERA plus and WHIP, second in starts and tied for third in strikeouts per nine innings.
So it isn't crazy to say that Floyd is among the best in baseball when he's on, is it?
"No, that's not a stretch," White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said. "He's got tremendous stuff. It just comes back to consistency for him."
Ah, yes, consistency. Somehow it always seems comes back to that for Floyd, despite how he compares to his peers in the bigger picture. That's because, as last season shows, he can either be very good -- holding opponents to a .209/.286/.284 line in his 12 wins -- or not so much -- a .284/.363/.519 line in his 11 losses.
"You throw out a couple games last year and he had a great year, but there were just a couple of starts that seemed to get him in trouble," Flowers said. "If we can just eliminate those and be as consistent as we can throughout every start, I think it will be a real good year for him."
Floyd believes the same. He said he's fully healthy and feels great after two stints on the disabled list last season, first with right elbow tendinitis and later with a right elbow flexor strain.
Despite those injuries, Floyd rebounded from a rough start. After posting a 5.63 ERA in his first 13 starts, he had a 3.15 mark in his final 16. Floyd said his elbow issues were not to blame for his poor early performance. One thing that did help his turnaround, however, was a different variation of his changeup he implemented midseason and is continuing to hone this spring.
"The more repetitions I get with it, the more comfortable I get," Floyd said. "It can be a real good pitch for me, especially against left-handers and put another thing in the right-handers' minds."
As for Floyd, he said he doesn't have any specific goals in mind for the upcoming season. He's set numerical marks before.
"There's been too many years where you set a goal for yourself and you get disappointed because you're not there yet," he said. "Or you get there and you're like on cloud nine, and it goes the other way."
Instead, Floyd said he prefers to live in the present and focus on his daily routine.
"I just try to give my best and compete, win at all costs and try to leave it out there on the field, and whatever happens, happens," Floyd said.
If his production the past five seasons is any indication, Floyd likely -- and probably quietly -- will once again be one of his team's, and league's, most dependable starters.
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.