White Sox

LIVE: Pierre's single plates Ramirez, Sox tied 5-5

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LIVE: Pierre's single plates Ramirez, Sox tied 5-5

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Posted: 10:09 a.m.

(AP) -- With his current contract expiring at the end of this season, Edwin Jackson could be in line for a lucrative deal if he continues his brilliant start for the Chicago White Sox.

Trevor Cahill just parlayed an All-Star season with the Oakland Athletics into a hefty raise.

The two right-handers will both try to stay perfect on the season Tuesday night when the clubs continue their series in Chicago.

Acquired from Arizona on July 30, Jackson has enjoyed his short stint with the White Sox, going 6-2 with a 3.03 ERA in 13 starts. Control has been an issue for Jackson, who had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.6 before last season's deal, but he has displayed much improved accuracy with Chicago, striking out 97 with just 23 walks.

Jackson (2-0, 1.93 ERA) walked one and set a career high - and a franchise record for a homer opener - with 13 strikeouts over eight innings of Thursday's 5-1 win over Tampa Bay.

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"Any time I'm able to go out and get in an early rhythm and get outs quick and attack the strike zone, I like my odds," said Jackson, whose two-year, 13.35 million deal ends after the season.

Jackson, who has never won his first three starts, is 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA in four starts against the A's. He struck out six over seven innings and did not earn a decision in a 4-3 victory at Oakland on Sept. 22.

If Jackson puts the White Sox (6-4) in a save situation Tuesday, it's uncertain who will get the call out of the bullpen after closer Matt Thornton blew his third save of the season in Monday's 2-1, 10-inning loss.

White Sox left fielder Juan Pierre hasn't helped Thornton, dropping fly balls in the ninth inning of his last two appearances.

"One thing I said, in spring training and I say over and over, we got to take care of (Mark) Buehrle," manager Ozzie Guillen said after the left-hander held the A's scoreless through eight innings with just two hits - none until a leadoff single in the sixth by Kurt Suzuki, who hit the go-ahead solo homer in the 10th off Jesse Crain.

FOLLOW: White Sox Insider Brett Ballantini on Twitter

Oakland (5-5) will try to extend its season-high winning streak to four with Cahill (1-0, 1.42) taking the ball for the first time since agreeing to a five-year, 30.5 million extension Monday. The 23-year-old will receive a 1 million signing bonus and a salary of 500,000 in 2011 before it escalates to 3.5 million in 2012.

"I came up with them and I'm just glad they gave me the opportunity to lock me up and I'm guaranteed to pitch for a while, so I couldn't be happier," said Cahill, 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA last season when he was named an All-Star for the first time.

The White Sox have hit 12 home runs and are averaging 6.3 runs with a .295 batting average, but they may not be happy to see the young sinkerballer, who has added a curveball to his repertoire since last season.

"I couldn't be happier with how that pitch has progressed," manager Bob Geren said after Cahill threw eight innings of three-hit ball in Thursday's 2-1 win at Toronto.

Cahill is 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA in five starts versus Chicago.

White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko is 1 for 8 lifetime against Cahill, but the AL co-player of the week is batting .421 (16 for 38) while hitting safely in all 10 games this season.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Struggles continue for White Sox starters, but there's not much in the way of alternatives

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USA TODAY

Struggles continue for White Sox starters, but there's not much in the way of alternatives

The White Sox will give Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito every opportunity to iron out their inconsistencies this season. But the numbers have not been good for the two veteran members of the starting rotation, and considering Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana aren't part of the team's long-term plans, how long a leash the newest additions to the starting staff will have remains to be seen.

The sample sizes are small, and questioning how long these two remain members of the rotation does not come without acknowledging that neither seems to be in danger of getting cast out anytime soon. But the numbers have been downright ugly. Nova was lit up by the Baltimore Orioles in Tuesday night's 9-1 loss, inverting the damage the White Sox did against baseball's worst pitching staff a night earlier by allowing nine runs and four homers against a team that's terrorized him throughout his career. He was yanked after four incredibly ineffective innings, the third outing of his five-start season in which he's allowed six or more runs. Santana has made only two starts to this point, and one of them was fine. But his ERA is still an unpleasant 10.38, and he's given up five home runs in his 8.2 innings of work.

All told, the youngsters included with the veterans, White Sox starters own a 6.12 ERA after Tuesday night, one of the highest marks in the game.

Those numbers are not acceptable, no matter how in the thick of rebuilding the White Sox remain. Sure, the win-loss record might not be the most important thing in 2019, and Nova and Santana were not the kinds of upgrades to the starting rotation that were set to fuel a dominant staff. But they were brought in, in part, to be innings-eaters that could save a developing bullpen. Regardless of what you, the White Sox fan, thought about James Shields last season, he did eat innings, ending up as one of a baker's dozen major league pitchers to hit the 200-inning mark. If Nova and Santana aren't going to pitch deep into games — Nova's averaging only a little more than five innings per start, and Santana's averaged fewer than five innings in his two outings — their value on this roster comes into question.

Fans would surely be quick to push the button that jettisons Nova and Santana from this rotation, certainly, given the results to this point, but if the front office decides now or months from now to go down such a path, the question becomes: Who is there to fill that spot on the starting staff?

The in-organization depth is not ideal, even if Dylan Cease is one of the highest-rated pitching prospects in baseball. As well as he's started his season at Triple-A Charlotte — a 1.84 ERA and 14 strikeouts in his first 14.2 innings of the 2019 campaign — the White Sox insist that he needs to build up a significant amount of innings there before he makes what is sure to be an excitement-generating major league debut. If Nova and Santana can linger until July or August, then maybe by then Cease will be the no-brainer option as a replacement. Though if they're still taking their every-fifth-day turns at that point, then perhaps they're no longer a problem significant enough to require a replacement. Quite the Catch 22, you see.

Rick Hahn said multiple times during the offseason that Cease is on a similar track to the one Michael Kopech was on last year. Kopech debuted in late August of 2018, so the expectation could be a similar debut date for Cease. Could Cease be up quicker? It's unlikely in the event that the most compelling reason is that the big league rotation needs a boost. Hahn said throughout last season that what's going on at the big league level will have nothing to do with when the organization's top prospects make their jump to the majors. It would figure that Cease is no exception to that rule. Maybe he could beat Kopech's timeline a bit, should he continue to dominate and not go through the midseason struggles Kopech did at Charlotte last season. But it might not be so significant that it could qualify as "soon."

And so the eye turns to the rest of the Charlotte rotation, which is not well stocked with names that anyone would prefer to the veteran track records of Nova and Santana. There are some big numbers down there, too: Jordan Guerrero has a 6.87 ERA, Spencer Adams has a 8.31 ERA, Jordan Stephens has an 8.80 ERA, Donn Roach has a 9.50 ERA.

Of the non-Cease names starting at Charlotte, Dylan Covey would probably be the most logical choice to fill a vacated rotation spot at the big league level. He made the team's Opening Day roster as a bullpen arm before quickly being dispatched back to Charlotte to work on being a starter. White Sox fans have seen the Dylan Covey Show before, of course, and the reviews weren't great. As a major league starter, he has a career 6.26 ERA. He didn't last five innings in a Tuesday-night start in Charlotte but owns a 2.19 ERA after giving up a couple runs in that game.

There's Manny Banuelos, who has been pretty good for the White Sox out of the bullpen this season. He made a spot start in place of the injured Lucas Giolito in Monday night's drubbing of the Orioles, throwing four scoreless innings. He's got a 2.51 ERA on the year and could move from the 'pen to the rotation if need be, but then there'd be a need for a new long man in the relief corps. Carson Fulmer is unlikely to be moved back into a starting role after a shift to the bullpen last season in the minor leagues. He's had mixed results out of the big league bullpen this season, with a 4.76 ERA.

If you're a member of the "get rid of Nova and Santana" camp, it's unlikely you've made it this far without screaming Dallas Keuchel's name at your screen. Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 and was a featured player in the Houston Astros' resurgence from bottom-of-the-standings laughing stock to World Series champions just two years ago. He's also one of the two most noteworthy victims of this winter's glacially paced free-agent market, still jobless as baseball nears the end of the season's opening month.

Keuchel would be an obvious upgrade to this or any starting rotation across the game, and his unsigned status makes him an option in the strictest sense of the definition. But it would seem mighty unlikely that he would be added to the staff of a team not expected to reach the ranks of the contenders until next season at the earliest. I've heard the argument that the White Sox should offer up a two-year deal and bring Keuchel aboard for the remainder of this season and for the next, when Cease and Kopech start the season in what figures to be a much improved rotation. But if someone wanted Keuchel on a two-year deal, they surely could have had him by now, as reports have talked about a lowered asking price and his willingness to join a team for just what's left of the 2019 campaign.

In other words, if you're waiting for Keuchel to come to the South Side, it sounds like you might be waiting for a while.

Gio Gonzalez? He was a name that was bandied about as an offseason option and is once again a free agent after the New York Yankees recently passed on putting him on their 40-man roster. The White Sox have a history with Gonzalez, yes, but if even the banged-up Yankees don't see a place for him, there might be plenty of other teams that feel similarly.

This is all a fancy way of saying that there aren't many attractive options, and so it's far more likely that the White Sox will stick with Nova and Santana for now and hope they can iron out their struggles. Nova, in particular, doesn't figure to be going anywhere, as the team gave up a prospect to get him this winter and owe him a $9,166,667 salary, the second highest on the team.

These starts have not been fun to watch for White Sox fans — and the vets aren't the only ones who have had them, with Rodon, Lopez and Giolito going through their own early season ups and downs, too — but these are the guys the White Sox are set to keep sending out there, hoping for a turnaround. Because the other options just aren't good ones.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins on hitting, catching and a Dylan Cease story you have to hear

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with Charlotte Knights catcher Zack Collins about

-His hot start to the season at the plate (5:30)

-How James McCann helped him with his catching during spring training (7:20)

-How he's changed his approach at the plate this season (13:10)

-What he orders at Chick-fil-A (15:40)

-Why he's not thinking or worrying about getting called up to the majors (17:50)

-An incredible story about Dylan Cease (20:30)

-His thoughts on Tim Anderson's bat flip (28:20) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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White Sox Talk Podcast

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