Friday, April 19, 2024

White Sox Should Bolster Rotation With Veteran Reinforcements

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The White Sox starting rotation is a group of misfits and question marks. Garrett Crochet and Mike Soroka are talented, but each has a significant injury history. Erick Fedde was fantastic in Korea last season but has had virtually no extended success in MLB. Nick Nastrini is young and inexperienced. Several guys will likely be on innings limits or restrictions. Chris Flexen, Chad Kuhl, and Brad Keller were all brought in as depth options this offseason. However, whether any of those three are even MLB-caliber pitchers is debatable. 

Navigating a season with so many question marks in the rotation will be extremely difficult. Bringing in at least one or two more veteran starting pitchers to help carry the load is necessary. Thankfully, there are some veteran options still available.

Mike Clevinger

A familiar face, Mike Clevinger is still a free agent and looking for a home in 2024. The 33-year-old right-hander was very good with the White Sox last season, as he had a 3.77 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 4.28 FIP, 3.3 bWAR, and 2.2 fWAR in 131.1 innings over 24 starts. Following the signing of Michael Lorenzen, Clevinger is likely the best pitcher still available who is a realistic option for the White Sox. He is reportedly willing to sign a one-year deal, which could be up their alley.

Johnny Cueto

Another familiar face, Johnny Cueto was fantastic for the Sox in 2022. He pitched 158.1 innings and had an ERA of 3.35 with a WHIP of 1.23. He was the second-best pitcher in the rotation that season behind Dylan Cease. Cueto parlayed his season in Chicago into a one-year, $6 million contract with the Miami Marlins with a $10.5 million team option for 2024. 

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Unfortunately for Cueto, his lone season in Miami was forgettable. He pitched just 52.1 innings, had a 6.02 ERA and 7.02 FIP, and gave up 17 home runs. The Marlins declining his team option for 2024 was obvious, as he was hurt and ineffective this past season. Despite his down year, the 38-year-old right-hander has had success recently and is already familiar with the White Sox organization. He could be had on a minor-league deal and provide needed innings and veteran leadership to a young, inconsistent pitching staff.

Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke is a former Kansas City Royal and familiar with Pedro Grifol, which seems to be a prerequisite for being on the 2024 White Sox roster. His best days are clearly behind him, but the 40-year-old still pitched 142.1 innings last season with a 1.27 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR, and 1.1 fWAR. Greinke is another veteran who can eat innings consistently and be a mentor to the younger pitchers in the rotation. He is also just 21 strikeouts away from 3,000 for his career, so seeing him reach that milestone and cap off his Hall of Fame career in a White Sox uniform could be a bright spot in this transition year. 

Other Rotation Options

Rich Hill and Noah Syndergaard are two other potential options. However, their days of being even somewhat productive MLB pitchers are likely over. It might be worth signing them to minor-league deals, but that should be the extent of the White Sox interest.

Long Season Ahead

Nobody listed above is a legitimate difference maker in 2024, but they do not have to be. The White Sox just need more veteran arms in the rotation who can eat innings and help the pitching staff get through an entire 162-game season. Protecting younger pitchers like Crochet and Nastrini should be the number one priority. Adding another veteran starter would help the odds of that happening.

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