It’s easy to forget that Tyler Danish won’t turn 23 until September. After all, he was drafted in 2013 and he reached Double-A by 2015. He’s not a flashy prospect, either, given that he’s a right-hander with a fastball in the low 90s. Indeed, he misses bats at a low enough rate that I made the mistake of tweeting, “I really don’t see how Danish is supposed to get major league hitters out.” Among the people to like the tweet was Mr. Danish himself. Whoops.
Of course, I could pat myself on the back when last season, at the age of 21, he got shelled while getting all of five outs in three appearances with the White Sox. Those are the types of bold evaluations you can make when a guy doesn’t throw that hard and has a career K/9 of 6.3 in the minors. That sort of profile doesn’t get any more attention when the organization trades for a handful of pitchers in one offseason who pop triple digits on a regular basis.
But, one thing Danish definitely has going for him, other than his youth, is his makeup. Ever since he was drafted out of high school, Danish has gotten rave reviews for his work ethic and poise. Knowing what we do of Danish, it’s not hard to picture him liking my tweet and others like it as bulletin board material. A true example of someone who isn’t mad online, but who’s actually laughing.
So far this season in Charlotte, Danish has succeeded the way he’s going to have to — pounding the zone and keeping the ball down, generating grounders at a 55.4 percent clip with a BB% of 4.9. The results from a run prevention standpoint have been solid, as his ERA sits at 3.38. And although he has yet to throw 40 innings this season, the White Sox may want to give him an audition again soon. After all, Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez have much higher ceilings and should be appearing with the big league club at some point this season.
Unlike Fulmer and Lopez, Danish doesn’t really profile as a plus reliever should he not be able to hack it in the rotation. Rather, Danish’s best case scenario involves succeeding as a back-of-the-rotation starter who eats innings and keeps the ball in the park, think of someone like Kendall Graveman, perhaps, whereas the fallback plans tend to look like long/low leverage relief work.
But, as tempting as it is to pencil in a rotation of Carlos Rodon-Lucas Giolito-Michael Kopech-Fulmer-Lopez for the near future, Danish should not lack for opportunities. Teams that aren’t the 2005 White Sox wind up needing seven starting pitchers or more in a given season. It’s virtually certain that some of those shinier prospects are going to bust, and it’s unclear when Rodon will even come off the DL this year.
His immediate obstacles are less imposing. Because of injuries, Dylan Covey and Mike Pelfrey currently represent 40 percent of the starting rotation, and it is very likely that Danish is better than both of them now in addition to having more upside moving forward. Covey, as a Rule V pick, will hang on to the 25-man roster as long as the White Sox think he can contribute in the years to come, but there should be no particular reason to keep Pelfrey around until such time as the organization determines that Danish is a better option — which, to reiterate, may have already arrived.
The best of rotations need guys like what Danish could be as a depth option. Just as this has been a year where the White Sox are finding potential complementary parts among their position players to surround their rising stars, Danish represents another potential option for the rotation of the future.
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