White Sox

With Carlos Rodon sidelined, what will the White Sox rotation look like for the rest of the season?

With Carlos Rodon sidelined, what will the White Sox rotation look like for the rest of the season?

The White Sox rotation has been the most inconsistent unit on the team so far this season. And now it will be without Carlos Rodon for the foreseeable future.

This was a unit already testing the limits of its depth, the front office moving Manny Banuelos to the starting staff after designating Ervin Santana for assignment. That left, really, only Dylan Covey as a viable option in the event of an injury, what with Dylan Cease still requiring more time to cook at Triple-A Charlotte (no matter your opinion on that subject, that’s what the White Sox think, and they’re the ones making the decisions) and the rest of that Knights rotation full of high ERAs.

Covey will indeed be the guy that takes Rodon’s spot in the rotation, though what to expect is hard to say. The White Sox were confident enough to put him in their Opening Day bullpen, then send him down to work as a starter just in case something like this happened. Now that it has, they’re once again talking about their confidence in the guy, though White Sox fans have seen Covey before, and the results weren’t good then. In 33 starts with the White Sox, Covey has a 6.26 ERA.

“He’s continued to develop. He’s had some success with us here,” manager Rick Renteria said of Covey on Thursday. “He’s resilient, strong. He has commanded a lot better. We have to work ourselves back to get him stretched out where he can give us some innings. That’s where we’re at right now. We’re adjusting and adapting.”

The hope is that there won’t have to be too much more adjusting and adapting past this point. General manager Rick Hahn said the ideal situation from here is that Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Ivan Nova, Banuelos and Covey iron out the rotation’s inconsistencies and give the White Sox a few good months worth of starts. Health, too, would be nice, considering there are few, if any options behind these five in the organization.

If Covey can relatively hold down the fort until the White Sox believe Cease is ready to make the jump to the big leagues, that would be the best-case scenario at this point. But Covey isn’t the only starting pitcher the White Sox have to worry about, not when you consider the way the group has pitched this year. And then there are the potential injuries that could befall the starting staff. Giolito’s already been on the injured list this season.

So what happens if the White Sox need another starting pitcher before Cease comes up?

In a pinch (and perhaps only in a pinch) they could draw from that Charlotte rotation, throwing Jordan Stephens, who’s on the 40-man roster, into the fire for a day just to try and eat up one start’s worth of innings. But Hahn discussed the potential necessity of going outside the organization for help. The free-agent freeze of the offseason has lingered long enough to leave several pitchers still out there waiting for a job. Could that be a path the White Sox go down?

“We're relying on the five that are here right now, and we've had some conversations about other guys in the organization that might need to step in on occasion,” Hahn said. “Look, we may need to go outside a little bit and patch this thing on the fly. You've seen that happen before.

“It certainly isn't our preference. We'd like to see the five we have here now go on a nice, sustainable run for the foreseeable future and then some of the young guys force their way here. That's the ideal plan. But we've talked about needing to come up with some contingencies.”

It’s unlikely that one of those contingencies is Dallas Keuchel. Fans on social media might be stomping their virtual feet begging that the White Sox go after the biggest name on the starting-pitching market. The suggestion is understandable from the standpoint of the White Sox rotation struggling the way it has and the 2015 AL Cy Young winner out there just waiting for the phone to ring.

But there are multiple factors at play there that make it unrealistic for the White Sox to end up with Keuchel. Chief among them, perhaps, is that any team that wants to sign Keuchel before the draft in June would have to surrender a draft pick and international signing money, the penalty for adding a free agent who declined a qualifying offer way back in November. For the rebuilding White Sox, those assets are vital, certainly more vital than trying to squeeze a few more wins out of a season that isn’t expected to end in a playoff chase.

Once the draft passes, those penalties go away, and we’ll likely see Keuchel sign somewhere shortly thereafter. But with injuries across the league by then, wouldn’t there be contending teams a little more desperate — and a little more attractive — for a veteran like Keuchel?

The bottom line on Keuchel and the White Sox seems to be this: If they wanted him badly enough, they could’ve had him by now. They don’t have him, no one does, and that says something.

And so if the White Sox do have to go outside the organization, it would figure to be someone of the Ervin Santana stripe: a low-cost, low-risk veteran who can step into a rotation and have no bearing on the team’s long-term plans, someone who can come in and eat up innings and help out the bullpen. Santana, it ended up, couldn’t fulfill all those duties, and that’s why he’s no longer on the South Side. But if the White Sox find themselves with nowhere else to turn, another acquisition of that ilk would be logical.

This is not to paint a rosy picture of a world of possibilities, and certainly that’s not what has happened. The White Sox had almost no starting-pitching depth at the highest levels of the organization. Now that a significant injury has befallen one of their major league starters, they have less.

Cease will arrive eventually and cure some of these ills. But, being described as on a track similar to the one Michael Kopech was on a year ago, expect a July or August debut rather than a May or June one.

Until then, it’s up to Lopez, Giolito, Nova, Banuelos and Covey to carry the load. And to not get hurt.

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jermaine Dye's slow start yielded to World Series MVP season

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AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jermaine Dye's slow start yielded to World Series MVP season

Generally, while the temperatures take their time to rise across the American League Central, the pitchers are said to have the advantage.

So perhaps it should be no surprise that at least one hitter on the 2005 White Sox got off to a bit of a slow start before eventually being named the World Series MVP.

Jermaine Dye was one of four new starting position players for the White Sox as they turned the page from 2004 to 2005, but he was no stranger to the AL Central. Though he arrived on the South Side after three and a half seasons with the Oakland Athletics, he spent the four and a half years before that with the Kansas City Royals.

In this lineup, he didn’t need to stand out as one of the most dangerous bats in the league, though by the time the White Sox were hoisting the trophy at the end of October, that’s what he’d become. In 2006, he was even better and finished fifth in the AL MVP vote.

But things didn’t start so hot for Dye. In April, he slashed a nasty .175/.205/.313.

The game against the Detroit Tigers on April 20, our latest edition of #SoxRewind, was an outlier, with Dye besting his RBI total to that point (three) in a single evening. He drove in four runs with a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run single in the fifth inning.

The 9-1 White Sox romp was perhaps more notable for another sterling performance from Jon Garland, who tossed eight one-run innings. But it had to be a welcome reprieve for Dye, who was still settling into his new digs in the middle of the White Sox lineup.

Things obviously improved dramatically for Dye once the calendar turned to May, and he slashed an eye-popping .292/.355/.548 with 28 home runs in the other five months of the regular season. He hit .311/.415/.444 during the postseason. Come 2006, he slashed .315/.385/.622 with a career-high 44 home runs and 120 RBIs.

It’s safe to say Dye found his footing.

But for White Sox fans getting their first exposure to Dye in the home dugout, as opposed to him suiting up for the division-rival Royals, a big night like the one he had April 20 was more an exception than the rule in that early stage. Even if it was a sign of what was to come.

What else?

— Base-running gaffes hardly matter when your team wins by eight runs, but Dye made a pair of them in this game, twice getting caught in a rundown between first and second. He was picked off of first base to end the third inning. And after singling in a pair of runs in the fifth, he was again trapped between first and second, caught, thankfully for the White Sox, after those two runs had crossed home plate.

— As mentioned, Garland was again fantastic, following up his seven innings of two-run ball against the Seattle Mariners by holding these Tigers to just one run in eight innings. He ended up going at least eight innings seven times in 2005, including a trio of complete-game shutouts. The White Sox won the World Series because of their starting pitching, and nights like this one showed just how dominant it was.

— Joe Crede joined Dye in having a big night, driving in three runs of his own and extending his hit streak to 11 games. Crede homered in the sixth inning, capitalizing when gifted an extra swing by Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen. Guillen tracked a pop up into foul territory but completely whiffed on the attempt. “Make him pay, Joe,” Hawk Harrelson said. That’s exactly what happened. Crede hit the next pitch for a three-run homer.

— Speaking of The Hawkeroo, he took the viewers on an emotional roller-coaster ride in the fifth inning. With one out and Tadahito Iguchi on first base, Paul Konerko drove a ball to deep right field, not far out of the reach of the right fielder. Hawk cheered the thing on the whole time, but his mood changed when the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. “Get down! Get down! Get down! It will! Dagummit!” Did I mention the White Sox were up three at the time?

— Scott Podsednik, another one of those new position players, kept making his presence felt by making things happen at the top of the order. He scored the game’s first run after stealing third base and coming home on a wild pitch. Sure, he would have scored anyway on Dye’s ensuing home run. But seeing how much difference that elite speed element made on a nightly basis makes you long for more of it in today’s game.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Wednesday, when you can catch the April 23, 2005, game against the Royals, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Some phenomenal work by the White Sox bullpen and extra-inning heroics from Aaron Rowand.

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Lucas Giolito: Playing games in empty stadiums 'not the most enjoyable experience'

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USA TODAY

Lucas Giolito: Playing games in empty stadiums 'not the most enjoyable experience'

One of the many possibilities being discussed as baseball tries to figure out what the 2020 season could end up looking like? Playing games without fans present.

Obviously, no one would consider that the ideal scenario. But as uncertainty reigns during the global COVID-19 pandemic, any baseball might be preferable to no baseball at all, and if playing games in empty stadiums makes that a possibility, it’s under consideration as a potential outcome.

Chalk up Lucas Giolito as someone who wouldn’t find that scenario all that appealing. But also count him as someone who’d stomach it if it meant getting back on the field.

"That's definitely not the most enjoyable experience for a player,” Giolito said during a Tuesday conference call. “For me, personally, I really love to feed off the crowd's energy, whether that's at home and everyone's rooting for me or if we're on the road and I want to shut all the other fans up.

“I like that part of the game. I think it's a big part of the game. The more fans that are packed into a stadium, the more exciting a game can be, the more it adds to it.

“But at the same time, we're all used to playing those back-field games, chain link fence league games. We've done it coming up through the minor leagues. We even do it in spring training, at times.

“If things matter, if games matter, I think we'd be able to go and get it done with or without fans in the stadium. But I'd definitely prefer to have fans. We'll see what we'll be able to make happen.”

Like everything surrounding the game and American life in general, this is hardly a certainty. Baseball is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, which entail banning gatherings of at least 50 people until mid May. Any major league game, with two 26-man rosters going up against one another, is a gathering of 50 or more people, fans or no fans.

The recent agreement between the league and the union established certain criteria for returning to action, among them that no governmental edicts exist that make it impossible for teams to play at their home stadiums. Though there is a caveat that special arrangements could be made if there’s no better solution. Different local governments across the country could have different restrictions at different times, complicating things as baseball tries to figure out if it’s safe to play.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman wrote Tuesday that the season is perhaps likely to start with no fans present as the league and the players aim to play as many games as possible in a short amount of time. But there are obvious reasons why all stakeholders would want that to be a last resort: The more fans in the stands, the more revenue the league can generate. But having any kinds of games to put on TV would provide revenue, as well, even if fans can’t attend.

Throughout his conversation Tuesday, Giolito repeatedly mentioned his realization that baseball needs to take a backseat at the moment. But even baseball fans who share that understanding of the national and global situation are curious about when — and where and how — they will be able to watch their favorite team.

Playing in empty stadiums would be weird for the players and weird for the fans who would be forced to watch on TV. But weird would be better than non-existent.

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