White Sox

If Manny Banuelos misses time, the White Sox seemingly have nowhere to turn


If Manny Banuelos misses time, the White Sox seemingly have nowhere to turn

If it seems like you’ve read an awful lot about how the White Sox have no major league ready starting-pitching depth at the moment, it’s because you have. Certainly I’ve written about it plenty. But after Manny Banuelos departed Tuesday’s start against the Cleveland Indians with an injury, here we go again.

The White Sox pushed their depth to the limit when Carlos Rodon went down with the significant elbow injury that necessitated Tommy John surgery, which he’ll have Wednesday. Banuelos had already stepped into a full-time starting role when the team jettisoned Ervin Santana after just three starts, and Dylan Covey got the nod to replace Rodon, who isn’t expected to return to the White Sox rotation until the second half of the 2020 season.

It left no room for injuries, no room for under-performance. And yet that’s what happened to Banuelos. After giving up his third home run of Tuesday’s game — his ninth home run in his last four starts — Banuelos left the mound with the trainer. The word from the White Sox was that Banuelos has a shoulder strain and will be reevaluated Wednesday, a day off before a four-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays.

So right now, we don’t know if Banuelos will miss any time. Maybe he’s back for his next turn in the rotation next Monday in Houston. But if he isn’t? Well, there’s seemingly nowhere for the White Sox to turn to fill his spot on the starting staff.

Twitter-using White Sox fans seem to have a couple answers. They like what Dylan Cease is doing at Triple-A Charlotte, and certainly the White Sox do, too. But much like we heard Rick Hahn say about Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech throughout the 2018 season, the general manager said recently that when Cease makes his major league debut will have nothing to do with a need at the big league level. Don’t expect anything else.

Well, what about Dallas Keuchel? The 2015 AL Cy Young winner is still sitting there on the free-agent market. But any team that signs Keuchel prior to the draft would have to forfeit a draft pick and international signing money, and those two things are way more valuable to a rebuilding team like the White Sox than a few more wins during a 2019 season in which they’re not expected to contend for a playoff spot.

Those wishes are just going to go unanswered. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The Charlotte rotation, outside of Cease, has produced nothing but ugly numbers so far this season, presenting no appealing options for a front office that might be in need of another starting pitcher. Remove Cease and Covey from the list and everyone who’s started a game for the Knights this season has an ERA north of 5.00. Remove Cease, Covey and Justin Nicolino from the list and everyone who’s started more than one game for the Knights this season has an ERA north of 8.00.

Spencer Adams has an 8.00 ERA, Jordan Guerrero has an 8.31 ERA, Jordan Stephens has a 9.48 ERA, and Donn Roach has a 10.25 ERA. Those are not viable options for much more than a spot start.

There’s Ross Detwiler, a 33-year-old pitcher the White Sox just plucked out of independent ball and added to the Triple-A staff. But the 10-year major league veteran has yet to pitch for the Knights and hasn’t started a big league game since 2016.

Carson Fulmer is pitching at Triple-A, too, but the White Sox have spent a year turning him into a reliever. To throw him back into the starting-pitching fire now would seem counterproductive, to say the least, to his development as a potential bullpen piece of the future.

Hahn has hinted that Double-A might produce a pitcher or two who will get a big league chance in 2019, though he likely wasn’t envisioning those chances coming in May. Kyle Kubat has been pitching real well for Birmingham, as have Jimmy Lambert and Bernardo Flores. Those latter two have been viewed as prospects with potential to help the White Sox in the long term, though, and it’d be odd to see a big league need force their arrival from Double-A if such a situation wouldn’t force Cease up from Triple-A. So perhaps the 26-year-old Kubat is a more realistic option, though who knows how realistic.

All this is a very long-winded way of saying that there are no good internal options to fill a hole in the White Sox rotation.

As for outside additions, Hahn didn't have the rosiest outlook Monday.

“We have had some conversations with other clubs about potential fits,” Hahn said, “but as will come as no surprise to you, there’s not a great market, not a very fluid market for starting pitching right now.

“Initially we’ll look internally and continue to see where those conversations go.”

Those conversations might need to start happening at a more feverish pace if the White Sox are going to find someone capable of logging some innings and getting some outs at the big league level. Because a look at the internal options doesn’t reveal a pretty picture.

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SprtsTalk Live Podcast: Is MLB about to strike out forever?


SprtsTalk Live Podcast: Is MLB about to strike out forever?

David Haugh, Chuck Garfien and JJ Stankevitz join Kap on a Friday edition of STL. 

The MLB owners and players appear to be farther apart then ever with the union saying they will not take a further pay cut. Is the sport about to strike out forever?

Meanwhile, the Bulls season is over. Will a nine-month lay-off help or hurt them? Plus, the Bears may not get together as a team until training camp. Will that hurt them at all?

Finally, Jean Lenti Ponsetto will retire as DePaul athletic director this summer. Can a new AD get the men’s basketball team back to national prominence?

0:00 - There’s still no baseball and the two sides don’t even appear to be in the same ballpark. Are the owners and players heading for a mutually assured destruction? Does one side need to give in first for the good of the game?

11:00 - The NBA is returning but the Bulls won’t take part. Is it better for them to have a 9-month lay-off?

15:00 - The Bears and other NFL teams may not get to work out together until training camp. Does the hurt the Bears?

19:00 - Jean Lenti Ponsetto will retire as DePaul AD this summer. Can a new AD bring the Blue Demons men’s basketball team back to national prominence?


Listen here or below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast


Report: 2020 MLB season will happen, how many baseball games is unclear

Report: 2020 MLB season will happen, how many baseball games is unclear

Fans looking for good news during the financial fight between baseball’s owners and players are getting it from SNY’s Andy Martino. He says there will be a baseball season in 2020.

No, there’s no imminent agreement between the two warring sides. But the worst-case scenario, no season at all, seems as if it will be avoided, per Martino, who reported Friday that players will play even if Major League Baseball sidesteps further negotiations and imposes a season of perhaps fewer than 50 games.

The league’s ability to do that was reported on earlier in the week, included as part of the March agreement between the two parties. The parsing of that agreement is at the center of these contentious money talks. The players agreed to prorated salaries based on the number of games played, but the owners believe they’re able to ask for further pay cuts now that they’ve deemed it economically impossible to play even half a season without fans in the stands and pay players half their salaries. Players, distrustful of that claim, say the owners should prove it by opening their books.

The players are standing firm in not accepting further pay cuts, with union chief Tony Clark saying Thursday any proposal of further cuts would be rejected. While there was some confusion over whether the owners would stop making proposals altogether, Martino reported that the league could make another financial offer to the union.

Here’s another wrinkle: The governor of Texas recently said that fans would be allowed to attend sporting events in that state. Thursday brought a report that Major League Baseball is likely to allow the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros to have fans in the stands, signaling that governors in the 17 different states where major league teams play would have the final say on whether they could sell tickets. That could mean more revenue, a significant variable thrown into this whole thing.

RELATED: Return-to-play negotiations: How Rob Manfred and Adam Silver's roles differ

So how many games are going to be played? That remains a question without an answer.

If the players refuse further pay cuts, as they’ve said they will, then perhaps a roughly 50-game season would be in the cards. If there are concessions as negotiations continue, that number could grow. Martino outlined that if the owners agree to pay those full prorated salaries for more than 50 games, perhaps we’ll see expanded playoffs, which was part of the players’ last proposal the league rejected. Perhaps we’d see players mic’d up during games. Perhaps we’d see the union stop demanding full financial transparency from ownership.

But no budging from either side and the league’s 50-game plan seems more realistic, despite the frustration it could spark among fans. While a 50-game schedule would mean a lot more off days, creating health benefits for players related to both typical baseball maladies and the coronavirus, it could be argued it would be an illegitimate way to crown a champion. However, there’s an argument to be made that a 50-game sprint would be a fascinating contrast to baseball’s typical 162-game marathon, often criticized for its at times glacial pace.

If the two sides can come to an agreement, perhaps that wished-for July 4 Opening Day would still be possible, though teams would have to hustle to start a second round of spring training, which was originally pitched to begin next week. If they can’t, then the league’s mandated 50-game season might start closer to the end of July, with the postseason played as usual, during the month of October.

But with the league adamant about the playoffs wrapping up no later than early November, fearing an increase in COVID-19 infections come fall, time is of the essence. And that’s what makes Martino say that next week is when we’ll find out how much baseball will be played in 2020.

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