The Chicago White Sox have made some big moves this offseason, and one area where the team will definitely have a different look come 2020 is in their starting rotation.
The Sox have made several veteran additions to their staff, signing Gio González to a deal and then reportedly adding veteran hurler Dallas Keuchel to the mix on Saturday. The team also signed Ross Detwiler to a minor league contract, giving them some depth in what will surely be an interesting battle for positioning as the season wears on.
With those moves in mind, and with their in-house options available, here is how the White Sox rotation will likely shake out to start the 2020 season:
Cease made his big league debut for the White Sox in 2019, going 4-7 with a 5.79 ERA in 14 starts. The talented hurler certainly had some growing pains after being promoted midseason, but he is a strong candidate to make the team’s rotation out of spring training, and he gives pitching coach Don Cooper another homegrown arm to work with.
After a rough 2018 season, Giolito surged back for a strong 2019, with a 14-9 record and a 3.41 ERA in 29 starts. He also threw his first three complete games as a big leaguer, and struck out 228 batters in 176.2 innings of work.
The All-Star will likely be considered the team’s ace, and could easily see himself getting the start on Opening Day for the South Siders.
The White Sox made a savvy move in adding the veteran González, who inked a one-year deal worth $4.5 million with a club option for 2021. It was a shortened year for the hurler, who posted a 3.50 ERA and a 3-2 record in 19 total appearances, but he’ll be hoping to provide some veteran insurance to a rotation that had to rely on young, inexperienced arms far too much in the 2019 season.
Although the 2015 Cy Young Award winner’s deal isn’t official just yet, he’s right up there with Yasmani Grandal as the team’s biggest addition of the offseason thus far. Keuchel posted an 8-8 record with the Atlanta Braves last season, striking out 91 batters and walking 39 in 112.2 innings.
He’ll likely slot in as the number two starter behind Giolito to start the year, and gives the White Sox a great 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation if he can stay healthy.
The soon-to-be 26-year-old had an up-and-down season in 2019, showing some serious flashes of potential while struggling through large stretches of the season. He did rack up 169 strikeouts and 10 wins, but posted a 5.38 ERA in 33 starts.
The White Sox will need him to step up his game in a big way to maintain his rotation spot in 2020, and he’ll need to dramatically improve his control. He walked 65 batters and hit eight more during the season, and he also allowed 203 hits in 184 innings for a WHIP of 1.46 on the year.
Here are some other players to keep an eye on both in spring training and as the season moves along:
White Sox fans are familiar with Detwiler’s work from last season after the pitcher went 3-5 with a 6.59 ERA in 18 total appearances, but the team has brought him back as veteran insurance in case of injury during spring training.
Dunning is coming back to the team after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2019, and he’ll be hoping to earn a call-up to the big leagues as he makes his return. He put up a combined 6-3 record in 15 starts during the 2018 season at the minor league level, and struck out 100 batters in 86 innings.
Speaking of Tommy John surgery, Kopech is also making his way back to the big leagues after undergoing the procedure. He didn’t pitch at all during the 2019 season, but he’s shown some big potential in the minor leagues and could find his way pushing into the rotation again later in the season.
Rodón underwent Tommy John surgery in May of last year, meaning that he likely won’t be available until at least midseason for the White Sox. That being said, he is a strong candidate for a rotation spot in the second half of the season if his rehab goes according to plan, and he’ll hope to bounce back after an injury-marred start to the 2019 campaign.