Jose Quintana is a recent call-up from AA with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings and making his fourth start Tuesday night. He's 23, just made it up to AA for the first time this season after stewing in A-ball or below for so long he became a minor league free agent last season. But he's got a 2.05 ERA!
Every marker for regression--batting average in balls in play, runners stranded, home runs per fly ball rate--is flashing red for the young man, and the campaign for him to join the starting rotation seems to be a combination of every sort of results-based analysis and attempts to ride the hot hand.
But he's does have a 2.05 ERA, and while he may just be a replacement-level left-handed arm (and as J.J. pointed out, probably needs time to develop pitches other than his ~90 mph fastball) , the White Sox have three sub-replacement pitchers on the roster. There's probably a hole he can squeeze into somewhere.
Zach Stewart - RHP - Long Reliever
The presence of Stewart almost seems like a guarantee that no one else will find themselves kicked off of the major league roster. He's a long reliever, which means he's already operating in the dead last spot in the pen, and he's in his pre-arbitration years, so there's no real financial concern in sending him down.
Beyond the fact that his attempts to coax opposing hitters into long fly ball outs isn't working (6 HRs allowed in 23.1 IP), his velocity is down to the high-80's, and if the Sox have any real interest in him becoming anything, it might behoove them to figure out what's wrong in lower-pressure environment.
Could Quintana do this job better?: In all likelihood
Will Ohman - LHP - LOOGY
Ohman is having a strange year. It's undoubtedly poor, but also strange. Lefties are hitting only .174/.240/.326 against him, so he's more or less doing his job, but he's stopped striking them out (just 4 of the 50 he's faced along with a velocity dip). That doesn't portend to much future success, and since he's useless against righties, that's his livelihood.
He's still owed the majority of his $2.5 million salary, and would probably rather get released, get paid by the Sox and sign somewhere else for the minimum than accept a minor league assignment. That tends to make the leash longer, even while he's suffering an inexplicable collapse.
Could Quintana do this job better?: Probably, but not enough to prompt KW to set money on fire
Hector Santiago - LHP - Middle Relief
Earlier in the season, Santiago played with fire with an all-fastball approach, daring hitters to square one up and often losing. Now he's using his breaking ball more, but not with any particular efficacy beyond it making it slightly harder to sit on his fastball. All in all, the 4.91 ERA is a pretty good marker of how unsuccessful he's been.
Santiago has one big tool right now, his 94 mph heat from the left side, which might have more utility in small situations than the consistent strike-throwing Quintana offers.
Could Quintana do this job better?: Why bother?
Philip Humber - RHP - 5th Starter
Humber is getting killed for lack of fastball command. Whether it's leaving it up, or falling behind in the count and being forced to use it more--which isn't a good thing since it's not overpowering--it's drawing away the focus from his two perfectly decent breaking pitches. He's sort of a frustrating mess as is, even while flashing the tools to be decent (9 strikeouts on Sunday)
There's no economic concerns with Humber, but since he pitched 163 entirely competent innings just last season, indications are that he'd be kept around in the bullpen.
Could Quintana do this job better?: Maybe for another start or two, which--since this entire affair is driven by instant gratification--is just fine
Gavin Floyd - RHP - Effectively the 4th Starter
If the three go-to places to look to quickly evaluate a pitcher are strikeout, walk, and home run rate, Floyd has the edge over Humber in that he only has one part of his game completely out of whack, rather than two. Gavin's unsavory reputation of being 'up-and-down' actual should work to temper outrage about his home run troubles and his ERA spiking to 5.38.
He's been here before, and shown the ability right himself and post a reasonable home run rate the last three years. There's too much of a track record and far too much money, and too few viable replacements for him to not to get every chance to redeem himself
Could Quintana do this job better?: Not really, no
John Danks - LHP - Opening Day/Effective 3rd Starter
Since it would never ever happen, let's just end it here.