The Chicago White Sox dropped their Tuesday afternoon matchup with Cleveland Indians 9-0 as starting pitcher Manny Banuelos left the game early due to a shoulder strain. The team will learn more about the severity of Banuelos’ injury on Wednesday, but the injury comes at the worst possible time for the team.
With injuries and the lack of veteran arms, general manager Rick Hahn and his front office deserve full responsibility for the team’s depth predicament.
Two of the team’s five starters to begin the season are already gone for the rest of the season as Opening Day starter Carlos Rodon will have season-ending Tommy John surgery, and Ervin Santana was released due to poor performance. Chicago is only three games under .500 due to the recent quality starts provided by Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Ivan Nova.
Hahn’s inability to add quality pitching depth during free agency and account for the health issues of his organization’s pitching could cost the White Sox the ability to contend in 2019. Three key pitching prospects have already had Tommy John surgery including Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning, and reliever Zack Burdi. Rodon and veteran reliever Nate Jones have each suffered extended injuries over multiple seasons.
As the team was in competition to possibly sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper this past off-season, they didn’t have a plan in place to address their starting pitching depth. The organization didn’t need to go out a sign Patrick Corbin, but reliable starters such as Gio Gonzalez or Matt Harvey could have been signed to short term deals to provide security and depth.
If Banuelos is lost for an extended period of time, the team lacks depth in the minors to fill the void. Top pitching prospect Dylan Cease is still a month or two away from being called up no matter the extent of injuries to the starting rotation. Ross Detwiler and Dylan Covey provide short term options but could struggle like Santana did as the season goes on.
A possible trade option could be Giants starter Madison Bumgarner who is in the final year of his contract. He could be affordable to the White Sox given his health issues the last two seasons and his no-trade clause to several competitive and big-market teams. Chicago might not have to part ways with a top prospect and would have the money to sign Bumgarner to an extension.
The 2020 starting rotation projects to be Giolito, Lopez, Kopech, and Cease with one spot to fill. Bumgarner would fill that role as he would be the only veteran and left-hander in the rotation.
It would be a safer option than relying on Rodon to be fully recovered mid-way thru the season. Hahn and the organization need to resolve the situation one way or another because it was their inaction that led to this situation with their pitching depth.