Friday, July 12, 2024

What Is The Plan For Garrett Crochet?

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In his media session this morning regarding Garrett Crochet’s future role on the White Sox pitching staff, Chris Getz said, “I anticipate him being on our major league club, but I don’t want to close the door on what’s best for Garrett Crochet.” The critical question here is, what is best for him? Is he better suited as a starting pitcher or reliever? His role moving forward is the million-dollar question that needs to be answered as soon as possible, as he will be 25 years old in June and only has three seasons of team control remaining. 

Dominant Rookie Season And Subsequent Injury Issues

Crochet’s rookie season was a sight to behold. He went from being a student at the University of Tennessee to a key cog in the White Sox bullpen in just a couple of months. He skipped the minor leagues entirely, yet that didn’t matter. He dominated everyone he faced, dotting 101+ MPH fastballs on the black and pairing it with a lethal slider. He looked to be an essential piece of the White Sox core and championship window for years to come.

Unfortunately, that run of dominance was relatively short-lived before the injury bug started rearing its ugly head. Crochet left Game 3 of the 2020 Wild Card Series in Oakland because of forearm tightness and then had Tommy John surgery in 2022. He missed that entire season and did not pitch much at the MLB level in 2023 either because of shoulder problems. Crochet has only pitched 12.2 innings at the MLB level since the end of the 2021 season due to these physical issues. 

Workload Concerns

Crochet’s workload is a significant factor in this equation, especially if the White Sox plan to utilize him as a starting pitcher. His career high in innings pitched in any season is 65.0, which was in 2019 when he was still pitching for the University of Tennessee. Once drafted, Crochet was almost immediately called up to the majors as a reliever because that is what the 2020 White Sox needed. He has never had the opportunity to be a starting pitcher at the professional level, so he does not have an innings base from which to build. The combination of poor injury luck and the less-than-ideal circumstances to start his MLB career has put Crochet in a bind from an innings and workload perspective.

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Starter Or Reliever?

That said, there is still a path for him to be a starting pitcher in the future. Getz indicated as much earlier this winter when he stated that Crochet is preparing to be a starter. However, pitchers cannot go from hardly pitching to having a full starter’s workload in one season. This idea holds true especially in Crochet’s case, considering his injury history and the fact that he has not pitched much in recent seasons. If making him a starting pitcher is the course of action the White Sox decide to take, having him start the season in AAA is the best option. Going this route would allow him to slowly build up his innings base in low-pressure situations while also allowing the Sox to gain back an extra year of team control.

The other option is keeping him as a reliever, a role he has already succeeded in. Crochet was quite good as a reliever in 2021, and given that the White Sox bullpen has had so much turnover in the last year, he would almost certainly have a high-leverage role right away. If they go this route, it indicates that the organization does not think he can hold up physically as a starter.

There are pros and cons for both sides of this debate. Crochet would have more value if he started consistently, but keeping him in the bullpen is the safer option. In any case, Crochet is a very talented pitcher with a high ceiling when he is right. There is no disputing that. It is simply a matter of him staying on the mound consistently and proving what he is capable of. Whether that is as a starter or reliever, let’s hope he can stay healthy and perform as we all know he can.

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