Dylan Covey

There’s a clear need for the 2020 White Sox if they want to contend

There’s a clear need for the 2020 White Sox if they want to contend

With the playoffs underway - and the White Sox not in them - we decided to look back on the 2019 season and take a glance into the future. The ‘team of the future’ just might have a lot to offer… and it might already be here.

We sat down with our Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber, Leila Rahimi, Ozzie Guillen and Scott Merkin, White Sox writer for MLB.com, to get their take on the South Siders. 

Previously, we looked at the best storylines of 2019 and broke down what we learned in the 2019 season, now we're taking a look forward at what the biggest need is for the club.

"Gotta be starting pitching," says Duber. "Rick Hahn's got starting pitching on the shopping list for this winter, so we're likely going to see some additions there."

The White Sox need starting pitching. Period. The rotation they have now is getting by, but they need to go from getting by to succeeding in order to become the postseason contenders they strive to be.

Analysis: Who will the White Sox sign? A preliminary ranking of the top 10 free-agent starting pitchers

While Lucas Giolito dominated on the mound - and was the clear story of the 2019 White Sox - the rest of the rotation didn't give as much of the 'wow' factor that the club will need moving forward.

Dylan Cease was called up to the majors in June and in his 14 starts he's posted a 5.79 ERA with a 4-7 record. He had his shining moments for sure, winning in his first major league appearance in July and striking out a season-high 11 Cleveland Indians hitters on Sept. 3. This surely gives White Sox fans (and the front office) hope for the future as he heads into his first full major league season, but it's impossible to say that he's the piece they needed that completes the rotation.

Michael Kopech is due to return to the mound in 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Kopech only started four games after being called-up and inevitably suffering a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, the timing of which kept him out of the rotation until the start of 2020 season. He's ready to return and even calls his Tommy John surgery "the best thing to ever happen."

Ivan Nova really showed that he's ready to compete. He had a seven game stretch in July and August where he allowed only 5 runs in 48.0 innings pitched which comes down to a 0.94 ERA. He told NBC Sports Chicago that the White Sox will be playoff contenders soon.

How soon? "Soon," says Nova.

Reynaldo Lopez had an OK season. After a dismal first half, he improved post All-Star break and finished strong. Lopez has a promising future but it's hard to call him reliable.

With Carlos Rodon suffering a significant arm injury early in the season, Dylan Covey was about the only one left to fill the spot and he didn't do anything exemplary for the rotation.

"I don't know how you go out there and say you're OK with what you have right now," says Rahimi.

With injured guys returning and young guys getting their shot in The Show, the 2020 White Sox have major potential... if they beef up their starting rotation.

White Sox activate Dylan Covey from IL, designate Juan Minaya for assignment

White Sox activate Dylan Covey from IL, designate Juan Minaya for assignment

The White Sox starting rotation received a boost on Saturday in the form of Dylan Covey.

Ahead of Saturday's game against the Athletics, the White Sox activated Covey from the 10-day injured list. In a corresponding move, the team designated reliever Juan Minaya for assignment.

Covey, who will start Saturday's game, landed on the injured list on June 9 with right shoulder inflammation. Although Covey holds a 4.58 ERA in nine games (seven starts) this season, he posted back-to-back solid outings before hitting the shelf. He allowed one earned run in six innings on May 31 against the Indians and two earned runs in five innings on June 5 against the Nationals.

The White Sox starting rotation has been a revolving door of sorts this season as Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon recover from Tommy John surgery. Since Covey went down, the team has started Odrisamer Despaigne (June 10, 16 and 22), Manny Bañuelos (June 11 and 15), Carson Fulmer (June 25, though in a bullpen day) and most recently Ross Detwiler (June 28 and July 3). Dylan Cease has since made his major league debut, too, of course.

Detwiler has pitched admirably, allowing just two earned runs in each of his two outings. Whether he will continue to start or move to the bullpen is yet to be seen, though the fact that Minaya was DFA-ed rather than Detwiler says something.

Minaya holds a 3.90 ERA in 22 games/27 2/3 innings this season, though 10 of the 12 earned runs he's allowed this season came in June and July.

Following today's moves, the White Sox 40-man roster now stands at 39.

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White Sox place Dylan Covey on the IL, opening up a starting rotation spot

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USA TODAY

White Sox place Dylan Covey on the IL, opening up a starting rotation spot

Dylan Covey had been showing signs of improvement in his last few starts, but that improvement will go on hold with Covey heading to the injured list.

On Sunday, the White Sox placed Covey on the IL, retroactive to June 6, with right shoulder inflammation. Over his last three starts, the right-handed starter had a 3.71 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four walks in 17 innings.

Covey, who has a 4.58 ERA this season, will be eligible to return on June 16. He was scheduled to start on June 10 against the Nationals. Manny Banuelos hasn’t started since May 30 so he can move up to that date and the White Sox have an off day on June 12. That leaves only the June 11 start against the Nationals as a question mark.

Reliever Thiago Vieira took Covey’s spot on the White Sox roster, which doesn’t fill the spot in the starting rotation.

Could this create an opening for prospect Dylan Cease? Cease is started on Sunday for Triple-A Charlotte so the short answer is no. Cease entered Sunday with a 3.46 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 12 walks in 52 innings for Charlotte.

If it’s not Cease, the White Sox don’t have many other options. If Banuelos pitches Monday and Ivan Nova moves up, Nova would be pitching on short rest. The 40-man roster is full after the team moved Carlos Rodon to the 60-day IL and claimed pitcher Jimmy Cordero off waivers. Nicky Delmonico is out for the year and could move to the 60-day IL to open up a spot if needed. The White Sox could also staff the game like they did in Houston on May 20, when Ryan Burr went two innings in a start and five relievers shared the workload.

 

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