The Chicago White Sox are currently on pace to have their worst season in franchise history. The team will start the month of June as one of two teams that haven’t hit the 20-win mark, joining the Baltimore Orioles. As their rebuild continues, one aspect of the team to keep an eye on as the season progresses is the changes coming to their starting rotation very shortly.
Within the next two weeks, the White Sox are expected to get their former first-round pick Carlos Rodon back from rehabbing a shoulder injury. Rodon was shut down in early September last year and underwent shoulder surgery to repair damage in the area. His return will be a boost to the ball clubs as he has shown potential to be a top of the rotation starter in his limited time.
The start of Rodon’s 2017 campaign was also delayed due to injury as he did not make his debut until June 28th. Although he struggled at first, he did perform extremely well in the month of August. Rodon recorded four quality starts in a span of five outings only missing his fifth quality start by just one walk. Of the five appearances, four came against teams that would appear in the 2017 playoffs. In back-to-back starts against the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers, Rodon only allowed four total runs and pitched seven or more innings in both starts.
One of the White Sox best pitchers this season has been James Shields. He’s pitched well in his last few outings as he as recorded three-consecutive quality starts.
Shields is putting himself in position to provide the White Sox front office with a very attractive trade piece for other teams. General manager Rick Hahn will listen to any trade offers for Shields as he most likely does not fit into the team’s future plans. The question isn’t when Shields gets traded, but how much the team can get in return if he continues to perform at a high level.
As the team heads into the summer months, one of the hottest topics will be the promotion of pitching prospect Michael Kopech from Triple-A Charlotte. Kopech is regarded as the White Sox best pitching prospect and one of the best prospects in all of baseball. In his last two starts, he has struck out 15 in just 11 innings pitched.
Kopech appears ready for a promotion, but there are several factors in the team holding off from promoting him soon.
If the team waits until mid-June, they most likely gain super two status for Kopech in which they would gain another year of control before he would qualify for arbitration. Another aspect is that the team could wait for a spot in the rotation to open up before bringing him up.
A trade of Shields could be what the team is waiting for as a similar situation occurred with second baseman Yoan Moncada last season. Moncada was called up the day after the team traded third baseman Todd Frazier, pitchers Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson to the New York Yankees.
There are other prospects who could factor into the starting pitching staff from now until the end of the season with the team struggling. Dylan Covey is currently getting a look following the demotion of Carson Fulmer to Triple-A and Double-A prospect Dane Dunning could possibly see a few starts once the roster is expanded in September.
Manager Rick Renteria also confirmed that the team would give Fulmer another look as a starter once he works on his issues in the minors.
The performance on the field and the record are not fun for the team or the fans this far into the season. In a rebuild, it is important to identify the talent that will help the team in its goal of building towards sustained success.
With young starters Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez already here, the team will have a chance for all of their top pitching prospects to gain MLB experience by season’s end. Although it may be rough in the second of the 2018 season, the White Sox and their fans will get a chance to get an in depth look at the team’s young starting pitching talent.