CHICAGO – White Sox fans have become well acquainted with bad Gavin Floyd during his seven years on the South Side.
Floyd had his good moments, too, most notably in 2008 when he won 17 games and posted a 3.84 ERA. But his inconsistency and unimpressive numbers combined with the money he’s owed have made him a less desirable option since. He's in the last year of his contract and thus playing for his future.
General manager Rick Hahn and the Sox seriously considered attempting to trade Floyd during the offseason after they re-signed Jake Peavy, labeling him as a luxury and not a necessity. Thursday’s performance against the Royals suggests the Sox made the right decision, despite a 3-1 loss.
Although Floyd took the loss in his first start, he allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings. He started strong by retiring 13 of the first 14 hitters he faced and walked only one.
“Jumping ahead, that was big for him,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Getting the first strike and not with the same pitch. He had different things he was getting ahead with. Once he gets ahead, he’s got a lot of different pitches to work with.”
Good Floyd showed up for the first four innings, limiting the Royals to one hit while striking out five batters. He did not surrender a walk, which in the past typically derailed what began as a good outing.
But as has happened far too often, bad Floyd came out to play for an inning. A one-out walk to Eric Hosmer in the fifth followed by Jeff Francouer’s single put runners on the corners. He induced a ground ball out from Jarrod Dyson, although the run scored to put Kansas City ahead 1-0. Consecutive two-out hits by Chris Getz (single) and Alex Gordon (double) drove in two more runs before Floyd escaped the inning.
“There's days where you probably don't feel the greatest and you're just trying to through strikes and make the best strikes you can,” Floyd said. “I pitched well today, put it behind me and just keep working hard.”
In the final year of his four-year contract, Floyd is running out of time to prove to the Sox he’s the pitcher of 2008 and not the player he has been since – an underwhelming right-hander with a 45-49 record and 4.19 ERA.
Those numbers don’t cut it for a No. 3 starter, especially one who is owed $9.5 million this season. Only five Sox make more than Floyd in 2013, yet his potential is part of what has made him so enticing. He’s thrown at least 187 innings five out of the past six seasons and has managed to avoid lengthy stints on the disabled list, but his propensity to fall apart in an inning is difficult to overlook.
The Sox need Floyd to replicate Thursday’s performance and become more than a .500 pitcher to truly contend for the division title because it's unclear when John Danks will return to the rotation. Attacking the strike zone and mixing pitches as he did against the Royals (66 of his 94 pitches were strikes) is the lynchpin of Floyd’s success. Floyd has the talent, now he needs consistent results.
“There's so many things in this game you can't control,” Floyd said. “You just go pitch by pitch and give your best out there and whatever happens, I'm content. I just want to go out there and give my full effort and focus and see what happens.”
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Sox Insider and Inside the Cubs blogs at NWHerald.com and on Twitter @Sox_Insider and @InsideTheCubs.