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The White Sox Starting Rotation Debacle

by Sox On 35th Contributors

It hasn’t even been half a season, and yet, White Sox fans have already learned a lot about where the future is heading watching the 2019 team play. You have the obvious emergence of many of the team’s top prospects. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada are breaking out, James McCann is proving to be a future piece for this team, and the duo of Eloy Jimenez and Zack Collins are both getting their feet wet in the big leagues. While all of these great things are happening, there is a crucial part of this team that is making the Sox almost unbearable to watch some days – and that is the starting pitching.

To say the starting pitching has been somewhat futile would be an understatement. Outside of Lucas Giolito – who I don’t even want to mention in this article due to the fact that his name doesn’t belong in the same sentence, let alone story, with some of the pitchers that will be mentioned — the Sox starting staff has been quite abysmal. This pitching staff makes me wish Dylan Covey was healthy, or that we would bring James Shields back; and if you would’ve told me a year ago that I would be wishing for those things, I would’ve assumed that 2019 was going to be another very long season.

And the funny thing is, it hasn’t been that at all. In fact, everything is really starting to shape up for a team that has a very real chance at contending for a wild card. However, before that can happen, the starting rotation has to be addressed.

Let’s head all the way back to the end of March, when the pitching situation was far different than it is now. You had Carlos Rodon, a thus far unproven talent with ace potential, leading the way. Following him was Reynaldo Lopez, an exciting young pitcher who showed a lot of top-end potential in 2018. After that, you had Giolito — the worst pitcher in baseball in 2018 — and two veterans past their prime in Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana. So if you would’ve told me in March that our rotation would be an issue, I would’t have been surprised.  That being said, if you would’ve told me how we got to that point, I would’ve been even more surprised.

Fast-forward three months; Rodon’s dealing with yet another injury, Lopez has been alarmingly bad, and Odrimaser Despaigne — who was recently released — had been tossing batting practice every fifth day for the Sox. The rotation has been every bit as horrible as what could’ve been imagined three months prior. White Sox starters are currently allowing 5.12 runs per game — and that would be a lot higher if it weren’t for Lucas Giolito’s dominance. In fact, outside of Giolito, the average ERA for the starters is 6.83. Of the 75 games played up to this point in the season, Sox starters have only provided 26 quality starts — and a third of those have come from Giolito. The average game score (a metric created to measure the strength of a starter’s performance) of a White Sox starter is 46 — which is tied for second worst in major league baseball.

Now that we see how bad the group has been together, let’s take a deeper dive into the individual members of the rotation. Reynaldo Lopez and Ivan Nova both have ERA’s north of 6.00 and have the worst two ERA’s of qualified starters in the MLB. Decent pieces like Dylan Covey and Carlos Rodon, as mentioned earlier, are both injured — but had ERA’s north of 4.50 at the time of their respective injuries anyways. Then you have spot guys like Odrisamer Despaigne, Manny Banuelos, and Ervin Santana who have combined to give up 63 earned runs in 72 innings of work. Meanwhile, Lucas Giolito has given up 26 earned runs in 85 innings of work.

The point has been made; whatever the White Sox have thrown out there to start their games this season — minus Giolito — have been extremely underwhelming for the fanbase to watch. It’s time for Rick Hahn and the front office to assess the situation and start to either A) bring up arms that will contribute in the future or B) sign arm’s that will contribute in the future. It is only a matter of time until Dylan Cease is promoted to the big league club, and that will provide a huge morale boost on top of a big talent boost. There are other additions outside of Cease that can also be made in the near future that will change the trajectory of the White Sox drastically.

The ship has already sailed on a Keuchel signing, but there are some trades that could be made that would help to shape up a future rotation nicely. Ideally, the Sox would like to acquire a proven pitcher in their 20’s, so an arm like Marcus Stroman or Robbie Ray would be solid additions that wouldn’t require giving away the farm to get. There are also additions that can be made this upcoming offseason via free agency that would immediately make the Sox playoff contenders. Big names like Gerritt Cole, Madison Bumgarner, and Zach Wheeler will all be available — and if the White Sox want to announce they’re truly ready to compete, there’s no better way to do that than by making a big free agency splash. One of those arms, especially Cole, could be to the White Sox rebuild what Jon Lester was to the Cubs. A veteran arm and bonafide stud that could lead a young rotation to the postseason.

Like many other fans, I’m sick and tired of the veteran patch-up starters who have no future with the club and will only inevitably get crushed when they’re on the mound. The future of this team is too bright and the core that has been established up to this point is too exciting to have the team hampered by an incompetent starting rotation. There’s no room left for excuses either — the team is finally in a position to compete, so putting anything less than your best team out there from this point forward. Yes, I understand that the rebuild plan is all about the future — but the thing is, the future is now, and it’s time for the organization to bring in the necessary pieces to contend. 

Featured Photo: The Athletic

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