White Sox Starting Pitching to be Tested in Rodon’s Absence

With Carlos Rodon likely heading to the IL, the White Sox — winners of five consecutive, and owners of the third most wins in the American League — will have to figure out who will take the ball in his absence. While we’re still awaiting his re-evaluation today, the significant dip in fastball velo and shoulder soreness in his throwing arm is extremely alarming, especially for a pitcher coming off of Tommy John surgery last summer.

After a noticeable dip in fastball velocity (max of 92.2 MPH in the first inning, down to 85 MPH in the second inning) Rodon’s night was ended after just 26 pitches, 22 of which he located for strikes.

“Once he came in, he just said he was feeling a little something in his neck and the ball wasn’t coming out of his hand right, which is what we could see,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said.

With Rodon being out of the mix for the immediate future, here’s what the White Sox have to work with, as their pitching depth will continue to be tested with Michael Kopech (opted out of the 2020 season), Reynaldo Lopez (10-day IL with a right shoulder strain), and Rodon all sidelined.

Likely Candidates

Ross Detwiler

Big Boss Ross has looked fantastic out of the bullpen in 2020, but Detwiler better treated as a case of, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

Detwiler, 34, has made five appearances this season and allowed no runs on just two hits while striking out seven and walking none. He tossed an inning-and-a-third and earned the victory on Monday night against the Brewers, and he’s probably the most likely candidate to fill Rodon’s vacated spot in the rotation, at least in the immediate future.

Unfortunately, Detwiler’s recent history as a starter doesn’t breed much reason for optimism. He made 12 starts for the White Sox in 2019, pitching to the tune of a 6.59 ERA. Detwiler said that he had surgery last October to fix a hip issue that stripped him of his sinker during his horrid 2019 showing. However, I find it hard to believe that a guy that hasn’t posted an ERA under four since 2012 is magically “fixed”, and I’d personally prefer him to stay in his bullpen role that seems to be working for the time being.

Photo: Chicago Tribune

Dane Dunning

Dane Dunning impressed in Summer Camp, and the No. 6 prospect in the White Sox system is 25-years-old and should get a shot at the major league rotation at some point in the near future, even if he ends up eventually being a trade option with guys like Michael Kopech and eventually Jared Crochet, Jared Kelley as players who have a strong likelihood of being mainstays in the rotation that already features Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease as likely long-term pieces to the puzzle.

The six-foot-four right-hander was the Washington Nationals’ first-round pick in 2016, and he’s now 16 months removed from Tommy John surgery. Why not give the kid a crack?

Clayton Richard

If the White Sox opt to keep Detwiler in the ‘pen and keep Dunning in Schaumburg for the time being, recently signed left-hander Clayton Richard is an option.

Richard, who will turn 37 next month signed with the White Sox on Monday, meaning he’s probably not an option immediately. He has a 4.51 ERA over 210 major league starts, so the pedigree and experience is there, and while he’s not going to go deep into games or overwhelm anyone, he could eventually step into a spot-start/long relief role in a few weeks depending on how this all plays out.

Heck, maybe they even operate with a No. 5 by committee approach that Richard can make his way into. It’s not what we want to see in 2020, but it might be what we get.

Best of the Rest

Bernardo Flores

Flores was a seventh-rounder in the 2016 MLB Draft, and he’s in my opinion a better option than Drew Anderson if this is the route the White Sox go.

The former USC Trojan has a fastball with some ride that sits 91-93 MPH from the left side, and a changeup the MLB Pipeline sees as a potential plus offering. He also deploys a curveball and cutter, and according to MLB Pipeline, he’s a projected back-end starter with some of the best strike-throwing ability in the system.

Drew Anderson

Drew Anderson was probably the least impressive thing about either installment of spring training/summer camp, but for whatever reason, the White Sox are keeping him around as a depth piece. He’s literally the last person I’d want to see in that spot, but he’s in the mix as long as he’s on the roster.

Going Shopping?

If you’re pining for a solution outside of the organization, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

The White Sox don’t really have anyone they’d be willing to offer up at this point in their competitive window after graduating so many highly touted prospects, that would net a return that you could consider a solution here. A suggestion I saw on social media last night was backstop James McCann being traded for a back-end caliber starter, but I think the White Sox value him as Grandal’s backup too much, at least right now.

Additionally, with the rash of pitching injuries mounting across baseball, teams with expendable major-league ready arms are going to demand an asking price that will likely tame any thought the Sox might have about going out of the organization for an answer just yet.

Ultimately, you’re going to see one of the aforementioned guys assume this role immediately and remember that we still don’t have an answer on Reynaldo Lopez, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder strain on July 27. If he makes his way back, he’d be the likeliest candidate to assume the bulk of the starts missed by Rodon.

Feature Photo: Chicago Sun-Times

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