Few teams in baseball have a young position player core as exciting as the Chicago White Sox. Tim Anderson won the batting title last season, Yoan Moncada quietly broke out as a bona fide superstar, and Eloy Jimenez has as much raw power as anyone in the game. This year the ChiSox unleashed Luis Robert, .
The story is much different on the mound, however. The White Sox have seen their rotation depth thin out considerably since the start of summer camp. Prized pitching prospect Michael Kopech opted out of the season following Tommy John surgery rehab, and righty Reynaldo Lopez went down with a shoulder injury one innings into his first start.
Chicago was dealt another blow Monday when lefty Carlos Rodon had to exit his start against the Brewers (CWS 6, MIL 4) with a shoulder problem after two innings. It was his second start back from Tommy John surgery. Rodon's fastball velocity dipped into the mid-80s and that prompted manager Rick Renteria to get the 27-year-old out of the game.
"We were already talking about it, and once he came in (after the second inning), he just said he was feeling a little something in his neck," Renteria said following Monday's game. "The ball wasn't coming out of his hand right, which is what we could see. We were already prepared to make a change at that point because we saw what it looked like. We had him checked out."
Rodon was placed on the 10-day injured list with shoulder soreness, the team announced Tuesday. They have not yet provided an update on his diagnosis nor a timetable for his return. The White Sox also have not announced who will step into Rodon's rotation spot, though options are limited at this point. The team's rotation depth chart currently looks something like this:
- RHP Lucas Giolito
- LHP Dallas Keuchel
LHP Carlos Rodon(injured)
- LHP Gio Gonzalez
RHP Reynaldo Lopez(injured) RHP Michael Kopech(opted out)
- RHP Dylan Cease
Giolito rebounded from a rough Opening Day start with six shutout innings second time out. Keuchel is no longer a Cy Young candidate but he is steady source of innings. Gonzalez is a serviceable back-end option. It's not great behind them because Cease has really struggled in the big leagues, including allowing six runs in 8 1/3 innings in his two starts this year.
The club's top candidate to replace Rodon might be lefty Ross Detwiler, who really seems to have found a home in the bullpen (two hits and seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 scoreless innings this year) but has starting experience. Journeyman southpaw Clayton Richard recently joined the White Sox on a minor league deal and could be an option as well.
"I've been a starter most of my career. That's what I'm used to," Detwiler said Monday. "I'm falling into a role now that I'm very comfortable with, but if they ask me to start, then I'll try to go out there with the same mindset I've been having out of the bullpen now. I think it's been working for me."
Righty Dane Dunning, who came over with Giolito in the Nationals trade years ago, missed last season with Tommy John surgery and is currently working out at the alternate site. He pitched in a summer camp exhibition game and is stretched out, though the recent Tommy John surgery complicates things. The White Sox won't want to push him too hard after elbow reconstruction.
The waiver wire offers little help at the moment. Had Rodon gotten hurt last week rather than this week, perhaps the White Sox would have claimed Mike Foltynewicz from the Braves, though the fact he cleared waivers tells us no team wanted to take on his $2.2 million prorated salary following the shutdown. Other pitching options on the waiver wire are unappealing.
The trade deadline is Aug. 31 and it's unclear how the market will develop between now and then. Will fewer teams be willing to sell because of the expanded postseason? Will teams give up prospects for a rental when COVID-19 could shut the season down at any point? Will any team take on salary after losing so much revenue during the shutdown? The deadline is a great unknown.
With six wins through 10 games, the White Sox have a 73.9 percent chance to qualify for the expanded postseason field, according to SportsLine. They're not a postseason lock but they have time to get their rotation in order. They can try Detwiler or Dunning and see what shakes loose on the trade market in the meantime. The rotation is a concern. It is not a cause for panic yet though.
"It's a unique time right now," Renteria said. "Everybody's trying to get through the beginning of this whole thing and see if you can get it to carry out a little bit further to the end. We'll just continue to make adjustments as needed. I'm not going to limit and I don't think the organization will limit what you can or cannot do. We've got to be flexible. It's just at this particular time it's the moment which we're in."