Coming into 2019, expectations weren’t through the roof just yet for this young White Sox team. However, nobody envisioned the rotation to be having such a down year. This is due largely in part to losing a few strong arms before and during this season. It started during the 2018 campaign when flamethrower Michael Kopech tore his UCL in his right elbow late last season. It was such a heart-breaker for Sox fans because of how high we placed him on our pedestal and how electric he was. Fans soon got over it until March came around. Yet again highly rated prospect, Dane Dunning, felt discomfort in his throwing arm which led to him having Tommy John surgery as well. 2019 was supposed to be Dunning’s year to pop out in the big leagues but fate had other plans.
Two potential starters were down for the year already before the season could even begin. Thanks to Kopech’s injury, Rick Hahn needed to go out and get another starter where he would acquire Ivan Nova who would only be good for one thing this season but I will touch on that later. Nonetheless, the rotation still looked like it wouldn’t be in awful shape with Carlos Rodon leading the way followed by Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Ivan Nova, and the man who always sticks around in Dylan Covey. But boy was I wrong.
After just seven starts, the injury bug decided to circle back around and this time get Carlos Rodon for you guessed it, Tommy John. Now we won’t see the southpaw until after the All-Star break in 2020 where it might be the last stint for Rodon with the White Sox.
The rotation quickly dwindled down to an ace-less team. That was of course before Giolito blossomed into a Cy Young candidate. Lucas led the majors last season with an ERA of 6.13 and allowing 90 walks. Unacceptable. But as we all know, Giolito has turned around his career after earning his first All-Star selection just a few weeks ago. With Lucas a for sure candidate to be on the front end of this rotation, who else will join him in the future?
Joining Lucas as the 1-2 punch for this rotation will be Michael Kopech as soon as he returns from rehab opening day 2020. Kopech will join Giolito as Cy Young candidates within the next two to three years. Everybody saw how dominant Michael was before he started feeling discomfort late last season. Struggles will be imminent, but the expectations Kopech brings have not shattered what so ever.
Rounding out the front end of the rotation will be Dylan Cease. Dylan has appeared in two games this season where he has struggled in the early goings but ends up cruising once he settles in. His 5.73 ERA isn’t the correct narrative on how well he has pitched so far. Yes his BB/9 is high at 4.1 but his K/9 is currently sitting at 10.6. Command has been an issue but it was something we all expected from his minor league seasons. Cease has the stuff to be a number one starter on most teams in the upcoming future but should round out the top three if Giolito continues to be great.
As I mentioned above, Dane Dunning should have made his highly anticipated debut this season but his body had other plans. Dunning was acquired in the Adam Eaton trade along with Giolito and Lopez as a “throw in” piece but Rick Hahn knew he had his guy. At a point last season, it seemed as if Dunning was destined to be the greatest asset out of the three but narratives have changed. Instead two surgeries later, Dunning is wondering if he will make it to the big leagues. There is no question the stuff is there, after posting a 2.74 ERA in his three seasons of minor league ball where he got as high as Birmingham. Dane will end up in this rotation sooner or later whether its the second half of 2020 or opening day of 2021, but he will be here and he will thrive.
The reason I haven’t mentioned Carlos Rodon in this list yet is because his future with the Sox is very uncertain right now. After going through Tommy John surgery of his own, he won’t be back until the second half of 2020. Rodon will return with the Sox, but it looks like only for the second half. Carlos is a client of the infamous Scott Boras, and if there is one thing Mr. Boras likes to do is drive the price up. Rodon is due for arbitration until 2021, and with the Uncle Jerry not liking to open up his checkbook it is destined for the two sides to split. As far as I’m concerned I will be okay with letting Rodon walk. However, Rick Hahn should look to trade Rodon immediately after he strings together a few quality starts. Either way, I don’t see Carlos having a future with this team leaving an open spot for fifth in the rotation.
As White Sox fans, we should be glad there will be a real open tryout with real major league pitchers instead of one with Covey, Manny Banuelos, and Ervin Santana. In no way shape or form will we ever see a caliber pitcher along the lines of Ross Detwiler or Ivan Nova again. Complete garbage pitchers. The only purpose Nova has served has been two excellent starts against the Cubs. Other than that, garbage.
Instead Reynaldo Lopez will have a shot to compete for the fifth spot, however, that seems very unlikely. Reynaldo has spun together two straight quality starts where he has allowed two earned runs in his last 13 innings, but it is destined for ReyLo to be a bullpen arm. Instead, the Sox have been linked to Gerrit Cole as a possible rotation piece to sign this upcoming off-season. Now I know you might be thinking here we go again, just another free agent to get your hopes crushed by. But maybe not signing Manny Machado was a blessing in disguise. Now the Sox can go out and spend all that “stupid money” as the Phillies would say on pitching cuz God knows we need it. So maybe Cole isn’t too far fetched as he is entering the second half of his career and seems like a guy Jerry Reinsdorf will take a chance on then. All jokes aside, Gerrit is an exceptional pitcher and will help this team out tremendously.
Just hang on White Sox fans, our rotation is awful now but the future looks bright. A rotation of…
will be world series bound with the way this offense will shape up over the next year.
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