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White Sox set starting rotation for Houston series

by Joe Binder

The White Sox have announced their probable pitchers to open up the season.

According to MLB.com, the rotation will look like the following:

  • Thursday, March 30 at Astros: Dylan Cease (RHP) vs. Framber Valdez (LHP)
  • Friday, March 31 at Astros: Lance Lynn (RHP) vs. TBD
  • Saturday, April 1 at Astros: Lucas Giolito (RHP) vs. TBD
  • Sunday, April 2 at Astros: Mike Clevinger (RHP) vs. TBD
  • Monday, April 3 vs. Giants: Michael Kopech (RHP) vs. TBD

If you have been following Spring Training, then this order won’t surprise you much. Cease, who was originally tabbed as the team’s Opening Day starter back on March 24, will get things underway as he looks to continue his dominant 2022 performance.

The right-hander went 14-8 across 184 innings last season as he finished second in AL Cy Young voting. His ERA was south of 2.00 until his final start, finishing at 2.20 on the year. Cease also ended up striking out 30.4% of batters while walking 10.4%, and his slider became a legitimate weapon. In fact, per Baseball Savant, the -36 Run Value on Cease’s offspeed offering made it the most valuable pitch in baseball in 2022.

The current ace of the staff will look to build on an impressive campaign in 2023 and show that his breakout season was no fluke. Cease is the next in a long line of strong Opening Day starters for the White Sox.

Lynn, Giolito, and Clevinger will eventually follow into the weekend as the Sox look to capture a series win over the reigning World Series champs.

Lynn, 35, was limited to 21 starts in 2022 after missing the first two-plus months with a knee injury sustained in spring training. During the first half of the season, he went 1-3 with a 7.50 ERA (30 ER/36.0 IP) and 35 strikeouts over seven starts. He eventually rounded into form after the All-Star break, going 7-4 with a 2.52 ERA (24 ER/85.2 IP) and 89 strikeouts over 14 starts.

Giolito, 28, will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing year as a whole. In 30 starts during 2022, he went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA (88 ER/161.2 IP) and 2.90 K/W ratio. Like all of us, Giolito wanted to put those numbers in the rearview mirror as he’s since owned a 3.07 ERA (5 ER/14.2 IP), 1.091 WHIP, and 21 strikeouts over four spring starts.

Clevinger, 32, signed a one-year deal with the White Sox back in December. Though his name has circulated recently for all the wrong reasons, the right-hander appears poised to be the team’s fourth starter moving forward as Kopech eases back into his role.

The former San Diego Padre finished his 2022 campaign with a 7-7 record, a 4.33 ERA (55 ER/114.1 IP), .233 (102-437) opponents average, and 91 strikeouts over 23 appearances (22 starts). He missed the first month of the season with a sprained right knee that he suffered during spring training. From May 17 through August 1, however, he posted a 2.81 ERA (16 ER/51.1 IP) and 49 strikeouts in 10 games (nine starts) – a positive step in the right direction.

As for Kopech, 26, the probable home opener starter appears ready to prove that he’s healthy after a meniscus surgery during the offseason. The right-hander closed out camp with an 0-1 record, 7.11 ERA (10ER/12.2 IP,) and 1.89 WHIP in four starts. On the positive end, he struck out seven in Tuesday’s spring finale vs. the Cubs after experiencing a drop in both his velocity and strikeout rate last season following his injury.

As a whole, the starting rotation will look to maintain their health and avoid extended time on the injured list. Should everyone log consistent innings and perform to their potential, the five pitchers could actually be one of the strengths of this team.

Opening Day action is set to begin at 6:08 p.m. CT in Houston. The game can be viewed exclusively on all ESPN platforms.

For more updates, follow us on social media @SoxOn35th!

© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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