As we approach Spring Training next week, we will take a look at the White Sox roster and put together some individual performance projections for the 2017 season. Today we will begin with the White Sox starting rotation for the 2017 season.
The Chicago White Sox will enter Spring Training next week missing their staff ace from previous years, with Chris Sale traded to the Boston Red Sox back in early December, so how will the rest of the rotation fare? How long will Jose Quintana remain the new staff ace, and how will Carlos Rodon handle being the staff ace by default once Quintana is traded? Is James Shields bound to lose 15-20 games in 2017, or can we hope for a rebound of any sort?
The White Sox have some real concerns surrounding their starting rotation as we embark on the 2017 season, and we will try to make sense of it today, and hammer out some performance projections for the coming campaign while we’re at it.
As I wrote last week, the impending trade of current staff ace Jose Quintana is a forgone conclusion, and a matter of when rather than if. Nonetheless, as of today he is a part of the White Sox starting rotation heading into the 2017 season, so I will try project his 2017 performance, over the course of the roughly 22 starts that he will be scheduled to make between opening day and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. I know this will rub a few people the wrong way, but this is how I’m going to do it, because his numbers with whatever contender steps up and acquires him, will be significantly different.
Quintana finished up the 2016 season with 13 wins, his highest win total of his career to this point, but Quintana is prime example number one that win-loss records are an aged statistic that is often times useless. Quintana has been a victim of a series of poor offenses on the south side, providing him little-to-no run support during his tenure in Chicago, so much so that it almost seems intentional that every fifth day that Quintana takes the ball, the Sox have their worst offensive output of the week.
Despite the lack of run support during his starts, Quintana has been a staple of consistency on a team that has lacked consistency for a long time. Over his five seasons with the White Sox Quintana boasts a 46-46 record with a career ERA of 3.41 over the course of 951 innings pitched. Quintana has been a regular 200-inning pitcher to this point in his career, reaching that plateau in each of his four full seasons in the White Sox rotation.
You can expect the same consistency from the 2016 MLB All-Star Quintana in 2017, as his numbers have seldom seen a significant increase or decrease to date, and the White Sox offense is nearly exactly the same as it was in 2016, not very good.
Jose Quintana 2017 Projections (With the White Sox): 9-6 / 3.15 ERA / 125 K / 27 BB / 1.17 WHIP / 154 IP
When Jose Quintana is traded, Carlos Rodon will then become the new staff ace of the White Sox. 2017 will be an important year for Rodon who experienced a rocky start to the 2016, but much like his rookie campaign of 2015, Rodon became better as the season chugged along.
The 2014 first round pick pitched to a 9-10 record with a 4.04 ERA for the White Sox, striking out 168 while walking 54 hitters over the course of 165 innings pitched. The first half of the season, and the second half of the season for Rodon were almost polar opposites. In 2016 Rodon posted a 2-7 record with a 4.50 ERA, 91 K, 32 BB, and a 1.55 WHIP during the first half of the season. During the second half, Rodon pitched to a 7-3 record to go along with a 3.45 ERA, a full point lower than his first half ERA. Rodon struck out 77 while walking just 22 in the second half of 2016, and lowered his WHIP to 1.29. His K/9 ratio also jumped significantly in the second half of 2016, rising from 2.84 to 3.50.
In his third season in the White Sox rotation in 2017, Rodon should have the formula down to avoid another disastrous start to the season, or at least be able to right the ship before sometime in July if he does struggle in the early stages of the season, where playing conditions can often times be frigid in the windy city. I am projecting Rodon to boast his best season to date in 2017.
Carlos Rodon 2017 Projections: 13-7 / 3.72 ERA / 172 K / 55 BB / 1.29 WHIP / 168 IP
Derek Holland will likely begin the season pitching behind Jose Quintana, and Carlos Rodon in 2017. The 30-year-old hasn’t pitched a full season since 2013, but enters the 2017 season healthy, and looking for an opportunity to revive his once promising career.
Holland started 20 games for the Texas Rangers in 2016, pitching to a 7-9 record with an ERA of 4.95 over the course of 107 innings of work. It’s also worth nothing that Holland has only made three starts at Guaranteed Rate Field over the course of his career, sporting a dismal 7.20 ERA over those three starts.
Holland, given the unknown of what he actually has left in the tank after the injury riddled last three seasons of his career, is hard to project for this season. I’m going to assume he makes it through the 2017 season healthy for the purpose of these projections, based on the White Sox history of keeping starting pitchers healthy.
Derek Holland 2017 Projections: 8-12 / 4.72 ERA / 102 K / 56 BB / 1.35 WHIP / 155 IP
James Shields was nothing short of astronomically horrible in 2016 with the White Sox. Shields was 4-12 with the White Sox, posting a whopping 6.77 ERA over the course of 114.1 innings pitched. Shields struck out just 78 hitters while issuing 55 walks over that span, and allowed 31 home runs to opposing hitters.
Shields wasn’t much better before his trade from the Padres to the White Sox in 2016, but hadn’t posted a losing season since 2009 before last season’s turbulent efforts. Last season was also the first time since 2006 that Shields failed to reach the 200 inning mark, largely because he struggled to make it out of the fourth inning on most days.
While I don’t see the 35-year-old turning his career around at this point, it can’t get much worse than his 2016 performance, so I see a slight improvement for Shields coming in 2017. I mean 2016 had to be rock-bottom right?
James Shields 2017 Projections: 10-14 / 4.95 ERA / 145 K / 60 BB / 2.18 WHIP / 170 IP
Miguel Gonzalez was no Jake Arrieta in 2016, but he was a surprisingly effective Baltimore Orioles outcast for the White Sox at the end of the rotation. Posting a 5-8 record with 10 no-decisions, Gonzalez pitched to an impressive 3.73 ERA over 135 innings pitched, striking out just 95, while limiting his walks to 35 over the course of 23 starts for the White Sox in 2016.
Gonzalez was actually one of the better White Sox starters in 2016 after assuming the back-end role vacated by John Danks early on in 2016. With a full season with the White Sox ahead of him, coupled with his improved delivery and approach, I’m projecting another quality season (for a back-end starting pitcher on a sub-par team) for the 33-year-old right-hander.
Miguel Gonzalez 2017 Projections: 10-10 / 3.68 ERA / 115 K / 43 BB / 1.89 WHIP / 168 IP
Overall the White Sox rotation will be a victim of a team in the early stages of a rebuild, and receive league average, to below league average run support in 2017, making their numbers less than appealing, but right about where we expected them to be heading into 2017. Carlos Rodon will be the bright spot in the White Sox rotation in 2017, making his biggest strides yet as he grows into the front-end starting pitcher of the White Sox staff moving forward.
Look for the rest of our 2017 White Sox player projections in the coming days, the mini-series will be divided into four parts; Starting Rotation, Bullpen, Infielders, Outfielders.