Garrett Crochet’s goal is to become a starting pitcher. It seems like 2024 would be a perfect opportunity for him to crack the White Sox starting rotation.
White Sox general manager Chris Getz has already said he plans to keep Micheal Kopech in the rotation. Mike Soroka, who was added in a trade that sent Aaron Bummer to the Braves can also be penciled in as a starter. Assuming that Dylan Cease does not get traded, that leaves two open spots in the rotation.
However, nothing is guaranteed for Crochet, who missed the entire 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery for a torn left ulnar collateral ligament that was diagnosed in Spring Training. He was limited to just 12.2 innings in 2023 due to lingering injury concerns.
Because of this Chris Getz told reporters on Friday that Crochet will be on an innings progression come spring training. He added that he wants Crochet to be a multi-inning pitcher but the White Sox will determine in Spring Training whether that progression will continue to stretch Crochet out to be a starter or just a long reliever.
Crochet was a weapon out of the bullpen the last time he was fully healthy. In 2021 he averaged 12 strikeouts per 9 innings and recorded multiple strikeouts in 21 of his 56 appearances. His 2.82 ERA in 54.1 innings was the second-best in the White Sox bullpen behind only Liam Hendriks.
Crochet was able to keep the ball in the ballpark despite pitching in a hitter-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field. He only allowed two home runs in 2021, which averaged out to be 0.33 home runs per 9 innings, the third-lowest mark amongst American League relievers. Crochet was also excellent in high-leverage situations. He limited opponents to a .204 batting average with runners on base and a .226 average with runners in scoring position.
A case could be made to keep Crochet in the bullpen for another season. He only made 13 starts in college and has yet to throw over 100 innings in the MLB.
But the long-term plan was to always make Crochet a starter. That is why he was drafted 11th overall. The only reason he was forced into the bullpen prematurely in 2020 is because the White Sox were in a playoff race and Evan Marshall got injured, forcing the front office to break the emergency glass on Crochet.
Rick Hahn said on multiple occasions that the White Sox viewed Crochet as a long-term starter. Comparisons were made to Chris Sale, who was also called up shortly after being drafted to pitch in the bullpen before ultimately finding a permanent home in the starting rotation.
While Rick Hahn is no longer with the organization, Chris Getz was quoted in 2021 laying out a similar plan for Crochet.
“We view him as a long-term starter,” Getz said during a 2021 MLB Network radio interview. “Now what’s the best plan to get there for 2021 and 2022? Probably a little bit of bullpen, perhaps a couple of starts.”
Obviously there were some setbacks to that plan. If Crochet did not have Tommy John surgery in 2022 he would likely be in the rotation. But given Getz’s recent quotes it appears they are trying to take a similar approach with Crochet that they were back in 2021. They want to ease him into the rotation while still having him contribute at the big-league level.