Rick Renteria said Wednesday night that the White Sox would discuss how to proceed after Reynaldo López had another brief, unsuccessful outing.
By Thursday afternoon, López was off the active roster, sent down to the team's alternate training site in Schaumburg.
After an inconsistent 2019 season, López failed to answer the preseason question of whether he could bounce back and be a reliable part of the starting rotation. Much of that was out of his control, as he was injured from the moment his 2020 campaign started, pitching hurt in his season debut against the Minnesota Twins. He recorded just two outs in that game before leaving with shoulder soreness, which landed him on the injured list for roughly a month.
Since returning, López didn't give up many runs — just five in three starts — but he couldn't give the White Sox much length. He pitched 3.1 innings against the Cubs and four innings against the Kansas City Royals before lasting just 1.2 innings against the Twins on Wednesday night. López confessed after the game that he didn't know why Renteria pulled him from the game so early when the plan was for him to throw 90 pitches. But the reason seemed apparent from the results: He faced 11 batters, giving up hits to four of them, including a home run, and walking two others.
The White Sox maintained their belief that López, who before being sent down Thursday was one of three members of the South Side starting staff all acquired in the same 2016 trade with the Washington Nationals, could be a part of their long-term pitching picture. And perhaps he could still find his way there. But with the games finally meaning a heck of a lot more than just opportunities for development for the White Sox, who woke up Thursday just a game out of first place in the AL Central standings, the time to let López figure things out on the fly has passed. And with piggy-backing candidate Gio González also on the injured list, López continuing to tax the bullpen wasn't going to be tenable for the South Siders.
So what's next for the White Sox starting rotation? Bernardo Flores Jr. was called up from Schaumburg to take the place of López on the active roster, but he doesn't seem the most likely candidate to slot into the rotation. In fact, with how the schedule is set up, the White Sox might not need to account for that spot for a while.
With two days off next week, the White Sox could throw the foursome of Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning on regular or extra rest from now until Tuesday, Aug. 15, against the Twins. By then, Carlos Rodón, who's missed a month with his own bout of shoulder soreness, might be back from the injured list and able to slot in. In such a scenario, the White Sox would only need three starts from Rodón — or whoever they choose to plug into that spot — for the remainder of the regular season.
That's just one possibility, of course, and the White Sox could opt for something different.
But the options behind Rodón don't seem like the kind of vast improvements over López that certain fans have been craving. Flores has never thrown an inning of big league ball, the same for well regarded prospect Jonathan Stiever. This year's first-round draft pick Garrett Crochet would seem a highly unlikely choice given the lack of even collegiate experience this year due to his season at the University of Tennessee being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Drew Anderson struggled in his lone White Sox appearance, giving up six runs to the Cleveland Indians during a bullpen day last month. Veteran Clayton Richard is also in Schaumburg after signing a minor league deal.
But that's about it in terms of starting-pitching alternatives for a White Sox team that decided to preserve its long-term plans rather than make a significant starting-pitching splash at the trade deadline.
What we know now is that López is out. Where the White Sox will turn, with the franchise's first playoff berth in more than a decade in their sights, remains to be seen.