Tuesday and Wednesday, the staff at BP South Side will be providing quick-hit takes on the different White Sox positional groups, making predictions on who will be the regular starters at different points in the season, as well as offering optimistic takes, pessimistic takes, and hot takes. Tuesday’s’s post featured the position players and today we look at the pitchers.
Opening Day starters: James Shields, Miguel Gonzalez, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer
All-Star Break starters: James Shields, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Hector Santiago
End-of-season starters: Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen
Optimistic take: Progress all around. Shields rounds back into acceptable form, providing mentor-ship to the young bloods and possibly managing to bring back a C+ prospect at the deadline. Gonzalez soaks up innings before being flipped for another toolsy young infielder. Giolito makes the “Gavin Floyd freed from the team he was disappointing” jump. Lopez shows he’s more than just a future bullpen ace. Rodon comes back healthy, throws 170 innings, and starts looking like the ace everyone dreamed he would be. Fulmer makes everyone forget his rough spring training and settles into a back of the rotation role.
Pessimistic take: Things fall apart. Shields leads the league in home runs allowed. Lopez averages four innings a start before being repackaged as a reliever. Giolito’s command abandons him and he’s sent back to Charlotte in May. Rodon’s injury issues continue, putting his future with the White Sox in doubt. Fulmer proves the skeptics right and accepts his new role as a seventh inning man. Hansen and Kopech get hurt.
Hot take(s): Alec Hansen has a better September than any of his fellow young hurlers and its not even close.
Opening Day relievers: Nate Jones, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Danny Farquhar, Juan Minaya, Hector Santiago, Aaron Bummer, Gregory Infante
All-Star Break relievers: Nate Jones, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Danny Farquhar, Juan Minaya, Thyago Vieira, Aaron Bummer, Gregory Infante
End-of-season relievers: Nate Jones, Juan Minaya, Thyago Vieira, Aaron Bummer, Jace Fry, Danny Farquhar, Zack Burdi, Gregory Infante*
*Not attempting to address the expanded roster flood of relievers as any of the Spring Training NRIs or midseason waiver claims could feature heavily.
Optimistic take: Like last year, the group is remarkably good for a rebuilding team. Jones is 100 percent healthy and, as usual when he’s on the mound, shoves. Newcomers Soria and Avilan perform to the better end of their track record and form a strong brace of setup men. Minaya continues to improve and Gregory Infante holds his startling gains from last year. Bummer starts to harness his high-octane velocity and is particularly tough on lefties. Santiago serves admirably as a situational reliever, long man, and spot starter.
Also, like last year, the White Sox are able to trade most of the relievers they don’t plan on keeping for the future. They bundle Soria and Avilan to a playoff contender for surprisingly interesting prospects, a la the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson and Tommy Kahnle/David Robertson trades of last year. And, as surprising and Dan Jennings getting traded was last year, you never know if Infante or Farquhar might get you an offer you can’t refuse. There’s a chance Jones gets traded, but with options through 2021 they don’t have decide right away.
This clears room for the next wave of prospects, as the hard throwing Vieira will get a chance to try to work on his command and offspeed offerings in Charlotte, Fry will continue adapting to relief, and Zack Burdi will return from Tommy John surgery to resume his path to a closer role.
Pessimistic take: Jones gets hurt again while Farquhar, Infante, and Santiago all revert to the waiver bait they were not so long ago. When Vieira comes up to stop the bleeding he is Maikel Cleto 2.0 and it isn’t any fun. Soria and Avilan are only OK and nobody wants to trade for them, or at least, nothing worth anything, while the Dodgers turn Jake Peter into a good major leaguer. Bummer, it turns out, was really rushed to the majors and needs to get sent back down, to the detriment of his confidence, and Burdi isn’t ready by the All-Star Break as expected.
Injuries to young pitchers is the worst thing that could happen — well, that and a whole lot of unwatchable baseball.
Hot take(s): Ryan Burr and/or Ian Hamilton eviscerate Double-A and Triple-A and are even pretty effective in a glimpse at the majors in August and September. As a result, they start challenging for steady work in the 2019 bullpen, moving the competition window up even sooner.
Lead Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports