Thursday, April 18, 2024

White Sox Sign Familiar Face To Improve Starting Rotation

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The White Sox have brought a familiar face back into the fold, as Robert Murray of FanSided has reported that the team has signed veteran right-hander Mike Clevinger to a contract. The terms of the deal are unknown at the moment, but Clevinger is back on the South Side on what is presumably a one-year contract. 

Clevinger’s 2023 Season

Clevinger is a familiar name to Sox fans, as he was on the team last year. The 33-year-old right-hander had a productive 2023 season, pitching to a 3.77 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 4.28 FIP, 3.3 bWAR, and 2.2 fWAR in 131.1 innings over 24 starts. 

He also ranked favorably from a metrics standpoint per Baseball Savant, as he was in the 81st percentile of pitching run value, the 72nd percentile in hard-hit %, the 70th percentile in average exit velocity, and the 67th percentile in BB%. Clevinger was arguably the best pitcher on the team a season ago, even more productive than longtime rotation stalwarts like Dylan Cease and Lucas Giolito. 

Much Needed Veteran Stability

I brought up the need for another veteran starting pitcher not long ago, and the White Sox organization agreed. Given the vast changes to the pitching staff over the last year, a reunion with him has made sense for a long time. While some do not like Clevinger because of off-the-field issues, there is no doubt that he is a significant upgrade to the 2024 White Sox pitching staff. He will bring much-needed stability and innings to a rotation with many question marks. 

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Clevinger’s Impact On The Rotation

It will be interesting to see the impact the Clevinger signing has on the rest of the White Sox starting rotation, especially regarding the team’s younger pitchers. Garrett Crochet was fantastic on Opening Day, but he will likely be on an innings limit. Similarly, young right-hander Nick Nastrini performed well enough in spring training to justify a rotation spot but opened the season in the minors and will almost certainly be on an innings restriction as well. Erick Fedde and Chris Flexen were already on the roster to eat innings, and the addition of Clevinger will further help those efforts.

Build-Up Process

Given that he is signing now and did not participate in organized spring training, Clevinger will likely need a few starts in the minor leagues to build up his arm again. Nastrini could be promoted to the big leagues in the meantime, depending on how long Clevinger’s build-up process takes. It is also possible that the White Sox could roll with a six-man rotation at times once Clevinger is ready. That would help manage the workloads of the younger pitchers like Crochet and Nastrini.

Final Word

Like him or not, there is no doubt that Clevinger represents a significant upgrade to the White Sox starting rotation as things stand right now. Whether or not the team will be able to trade him at the deadline for anything is another question. However, the team desperately needed another guy who could take the ball and eat innings every five days during a transition season. Clevinger should be able to do that.

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