For about one month early in the season Dylan Covey was A Thing.
It was weird. Covey was never really in consideration to make the White Sox entering the season. After a 2017 in which he was thrown to the wolves as a Rule 5 pick forced into major league action before he was ready, Covey seemed most likely to spend the year in Triple-A developing as potential rotation depth down the road.
But injuries, Carson Fulmer’s existence, and service time manipulation happen, and Covey found himself in the rotation by late May, and for a while, he was good. During a five-start span from May 23 through June 13, Covey struck out 30 against just 8 walks in 29 1/3 innings, sporting a 1.53 ERA. He was suddenly sporting a mid-90s two-seamer with a whole lotta life, generated double-digit swinging strikes on two separate occasions, and went toe-to-toe with the likes of Chris Sale and Trevor Bauer in back-to-back starts.
Things were bonkers. Covey was out there dealing while Lucas Giolito was floundering, Reynaldo Lopez was kinda meh, and Carlos Rodon was on the shelf. Folks were wondering aloud and un-ironically if he could be part of the rotation of the future. Our pets’ heads were falling off.
The success was fleeting, as it turns out. The stuff was improved, but the league kind of figured him out, and he started allowing more hard contact. He wasn’t long for the rotation.
After a string of subpar starts following that absurd stretch, Covey exited the rotation when Michael Kopech was promoted, only to rejoin it again when Kopech departed. While his final numbers wound up less-than-stellar — 5.18 ERA, 91 strikeouts, 52 walks in 121 2/3 innings, as well as a DRA (5.15) that says he absolutely deserved that ERA — the improvements he made, particularly in the stuff department, make it easy to see him having a role on the White Sox as they maybe, potentially, start to transition into contenders.
Just … not in the rotation. The main issue that plagued Covey once that hot stretch ended was not all that uncommon — he got beat around after his first time through the order. As a starter, opponents hit .216/.296/.329 off Covey the first time through the order. The second time? .307/.382/.454. Going a step further, in the extremely limited sample size of six games and 12 innings as a reliever, opponents hit .227/.292/.295 against him and he posted a 2.25 ERA with seven strikeouts and four walks.
These are not earth-shattering stats. If you’re looking at potential pieces of the White Sox bullpen going forward, there’s still a handful of guys ahead of Covey on the Excitement Index. But given where he came from as a former Rule 5 pick who might not have made it through his debut season with the White Sox if not for an injury, the fact that he’s made enough improvements to remain on the radar is a solid win.
Lead Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports