White Sox

Oft-injured pitcher set to return for Opening Day

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Oft-injured pitcher set to return for Opening Day

From Comcast SportsNet
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- After a spring full of injury-related news, finally some relief for the New York Mets: Johan Santana will start on opening day. The left-hander, returning from shoulder surgery performed in September 2010, met with manager Terry Collins in his office Sunday. Later, Collins announced that Santana was set to pitch at home against the Atlanta Braves. "After we talked to Johan yesterday after he threw, I walked by him and he said to me at the end, You've got your pitcher for Thursday,'" Collins said. Santana made his last spring training start Monday against St. Louis and worked a brief bullpen session Saturday. "It means a lot," he said. "It means that everything we've done from surgery to today has paid off. We worked hard, and I'm very happy." "I'm happy to have the opportunity to start the season from Day One with the team. That's something I was really looking forward to," the two-time Cy Young winner said. Santana was 0-1 with a 3.44 ERA in five exhibition starts. "He said to me in the winter, I came to New York to be the opening day starter. If I can do it, I'll be there.' He's ready to go," Collins said. The 33-year-old Santana has been rehabbing the anterior capsule in his shoulder since the surgery that cut short his 2010 season. He pitched briefly in the minors last year. Collins will have a built-in luxury that will help with easing Santana into the mix. Six of his first seven scheduled starts will include an extra day of rest simply because of the way New York's schedule unfolds. Left fielder Jason Bay was eager to see Santana return, especially after the Mets lost shortstop Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins in free agency. "(Johan) brings a lot of the same type of energy that Jose had brought. We obviously lost Jose and not having Johan around all year last year, so getting him back is getting the energy back," Bay said. "It's almost like picking up another guy because you've missed him for the whole year. It's nice to have that back," Bay said. Right-hander Dillon Gee said the club will immediately feel the impact of Santana's return. "It's important to see him back," Gee said. "Everyone wanted to see Johan on opening day. The prestige of Johan on opening day is a benchmark." Collins said R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Gee would round out the rotation in that order behind Santana.

The White Sox connection to Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom that once and for all proves pitcher wins are meaningless

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USA TODAY

The White Sox connection to Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom that once and for all proves pitcher wins are meaningless

Jacob deGrom was excellent for the New York Mets in 2018, and his sensational campaign was rewarded Wednesday with the NL Cy Young Award.

The Mets' ace led baseball with a 1.70 ERA and struck out 269 batters in 217 innings. The other end of that spectrum was Lucas Giolito, who in his first full season in the big leagues had the highest ERA in baseball (among qualified pitchers) at 6.13. He struck out 125 guys in 173.1 innings.

It would seem to be two dramatically different seasons, but in one area the two were very much the same. Just look at this factoid dug up by ESPN's Sarah Langs:

That's right, the White Sox were just as good in Giolito's starts as the Mets were in deGrom's starts, and the two pitchers finished with an identical number of victories on the season.

So if there was still any doubt that the pitcher win has become a meaningless stat, this ought to erase it.

That's not to come down on Giolito, who said he learned an awful lot from his struggles during the White Sox rebuilding season, lessons the team expects will benefit him down the road in seasons when the White Sox are contending for championships. Instead, it's to point out that the pitcher win, which has long since fell out of favor as a stat used to analyze how good someone is, is officially dead. After all, deGrom ranked 47th in wins and still managed to be arguably the game's best pitcher last season.

Obviously deGrom had no control over what the rest of his Mets teammates did in games he started. He allowed an average of fewer than two runs every time he took the mound. The Mets averaged fewer than three and a half runs in games deGrom started, more than half a run fewer than they averaged over the course of the 162-game season.

White Sox fans familiar with the Jose Quintana Era can relate.

Again, Giolito is expected to improve with experience as his career goes on. And it's important to remember that 2018 was never supposed to be about what his numbers looked like at the end but what they'll look like in the future.

Another lesson to take from 2018, though? The pitcher win is deader than disco.

White Sox say Zack Burdi is fine and could force his way to majors in 2019

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AP

White Sox say Zack Burdi is fine and could force his way to majors in 2019

Zack Burdi’s shutdown in the Arizona Fall League is no cause for concern, at least not to Rick Hahn.

Burdi, who the White Sox took in the first round of the 2016 draft, has been recovering from Tommy John for more than a year. He didn’t pitch in any minor league games during the 2018 season, and he was just taken out of action in the AFL after a handful of appearances.

While that might have raised a few eyebrows, the White Sox general manager said there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Burdi, who many fans consider the top internal candidate to be the White Sox closer of the future.

“He is doing well, and it is too early to be concerned about Zack Burdi,” Hahn said last week at the GM Meetings in Southern California. “It's important to get back throwing regularly. He had a very long rehab process, as you can imagine, which ended with going out on a regular basis in the Arizona Fall League. He cleared every hurdle we had for him at the end.

“He expressed to us a level of fatigue as far as his overall body being worn out from the time of his throwing program to instructs, to the Fall League, we felt it made sense to just shut him down instead of just running him out there for the last two weeks of Fall League.

“We are pleased with where he's at right now. We had always said that the target for him would be to be essentially back without restriction in 2019. That continues to be the case.”

That’s got to be pleasant news for White Sox fans who might have worried that the shutdown was an indicator of some sort of setback in Burdi’s recovery.

What should be even more pleasant news is that Burdi might make his way to the South Side in 2019. He reached Triple-A Charlotte prior to requiring Tommy John surgery in 2017, logging 33.1 innings there with a 4.05 ERA.

The White Sox bullpen is loaded with youth after a flurry of late-season call-ups in 2018, but perhaps there’s room for one more, eventually, the organization's No. 17 prospect.

“Keep in mind that he's still very young,” Hahn said. “He still has relatively few minor league innings under his belt. I can certainly see him forcing his way into our picture in 2019. When, whether it's early, middle or late, I don't know. Let's see where he's at once he's back throwing in games regularly for us. We still very much believe in his future and are pleased with where he's at in terms of his rehab.”