White Sox Opening Day Rotation Taking Shape

With White Sox skipper Tony La Russa‘s confirmation to the media in his pre-game availability that Lucas Giolito will, as expected, be the Opening Day starter on April 1 in Los Angeles, the rotation is beginning to shape itself out.

Lucas Giolito will take the ball against the Angels on Opening Day, his second consecutive Opening Day start for the White Sox, and he will be followed by Dallas Keuchel and Lance Lynn in the rotation in that opening series in Los Angeles.

“We are going with Gio, as you expected,” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa. “Dallas will go second and Lance will go third and then you have two spots in competition.”

While the final two spots in the rotation are still technically open to competition according to La Russa, you can pencil Dylan Cease in for the fourth spot in the rotation after Cease spent all of 2020 in the middle of the White Sox rotation.

With La Russa already confirming that Michael Kopech will pitch out of the White Sox bullpen to open the season, the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation really comes down to Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez. If I was a betting man, which I am, I would lay my money down on Carlos Rodon to walk away with the nod for the fifth spot over Lopez.

Lopez looked sharp in his first start of the spring when he tossed a pair of perfect innings against the Cleveland Indians back on March 6, but his second start against the Reds on March 11 was looked more like his treacherous 2020 showings. Cincinnati tagged Lopez for five earned runs on six hits — two of which left the yard — over the course of three innings of work.

Rodon followed Lopez in that ballgame and put together a pair of scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and no walks in his Cactus League debut. Rodon is scheduled to make his first start of the spring this week when the White Sox take on the San Diego Padres on Tuesday afternoon.

But Cactus League numbers and feelings aside, let’s be frank here — the fifth spot in the rotation was always going to be Rodon’s to lose this spring. There was zero chance of Michael Kopech opening the season in the rotation, and if the White Sox were keen on having Reynaldo Lopez in that spot, they wouldn’t have thrown $3 million dollars at a Rodon reunion this winter after they non-tendered him following the 2020 season. Add to that the fact that Rodon himself said that the role for him discussed before he signed was a starting role, and you have your answer when it comes to the “battle” between Rodon and Lopez.

You’ll get to see all five of the aforementioned pitchers make starts this week in a preview of sorts starting today with Dylan Cease against the Cubs, Rodon on Tuesday against the Padres, and then the rotation flips to the top with Giolito, Keuchel, and Lynn pitching Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Featured Photo: Chicago Tribune

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