White Sox pitching staff taking shape

Lucas Giolito in position to be the leader of a 13-man staff

Carson Fulmer is not yet official, but Rick Renteria put him on the “pretty official” side of the unofficial spectrum by saying a rotation that includes Fulmer in the fifth spot “sounds right.”

Renteria also said the Sox will break camp with 13 pitchers, which is never fun because it’s both inefficient and a hard habit for a manager to break. It’s bad news for somebody like Ryan Cordell, but good news for:

  • Fulmer: And other starters, but if this takes stress off guys who aren’t a great bet to go deep into games, he might benefit more than most.
  • At least one fringe pitcher: Everybody on this list is back on the pitching schedule, including Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.
  • Nate Jones: After missing almost all of 2017, Renteria should be able to ease Jones back into the grind of the regular season.

The hope is that starters like Lucas Giolito, James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez can string together quality-length starts to cover for Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez, who has his own in-start durability questions to answer. To his credit, Lopez pitched a decent five frames against San Diego on Wednesday, at least after overcoming three first-inning walks.

Counteracting the time spent on Fulmer, let’s talk about Giolito, who is the most ready of the starters. He’s had a fantastic spring, allowing just 15 baserunners (11 hits, four walks) while striking out 17 over 17⅔ innings. After an easy jog against the Rangers on Tuesday, he’s basically ready to go for the season.

Giolito found ways to be effective last year despite a lack of a dynamic breaking ball, but James Fegan relays that Giolito feels he’s restored his curveball. On top of that, the slider has come along as more than a strike-grabber:

“Slider is a pitch I can throw in there for a strike behind in the count, early in the count,” Giolito said. “I’ve actually developed a feel for a, I wouldn’t necessarily say wipeout, but a strong slider that I will throw with two strikes, especially to righties, that’s working pretty well for me. The comfort level for that pitch has just gone up and up over the last year and a half.”

On top of two breaking balls, Keith Law says Giolito might have two changeups.

Law has always held Giolito’s stock, even during the slip at the end of his Washington days. With a full year’s separation from a Nationals organization that altered his delivery, Law has picked Giolito to be one of the breakout candidates of 2018:

The White Sox have helped Giolito restore his old delivery, rediscover the tight spin on the plus curveball he had as an amateur and even add a second “two-seam” changeup to his pitch mix, which already included a slider and straight change. He’s throwing harder this spring, again commensurate with what he was doing as an amateur and in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery. I do worry he’ll be a little homer-prone between his four-seamer, which is still fairly straight, and the White Sox’s homer-friendly park, but I am optimistic we’ll see an above-average line from Giolito this season with a huge strikeout total.

It’s hard to tell how much of this is a product of preseason optimism, because new pitches are a kind of spring training trope. The difference here is that Giolito is putting forth the kind of stuff he’d shown in the past, which makes it a little more bankable.

Shields may steal the Opening Day glory this time around, but if Renteria’s rotation holds through the first turn, Giolito will get the home opener. That’s a better arrangement for everybody this year, especially if Giolito can show three or four pitches.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Gotta love the smell of optimism in the morning.

Lurker Laura

I look forward to seeing Giolito in the home opener. 


The last two home openers I’ve been to were last years rainy clusterfuck and Hector Noesi’s 2015 debacle.

That being said, I really would like to go to this year’s, and to see Giolito start us off right.


Gio as home opener? Oh yes please. Optimism shine on!

Shame I still won’t be able to make it until opening weekend though…


I trust Law’s professional opinions on these matters better than my own, but I remember Gio’s fastball having pretty good movement in what I saw last year.


South side forecast for 2018:

Extreme highs and lows are predicted from April to October. Flashes of brilliance will be laced with highs in the ERA’s and lows in the BA’s. Storm clouds are reported to all have silver linings.

Anyone can make a prediction but I doubt anyone (Coop and Renteria included) has any real confidence in their predictions for the pitching staff collectively.

I have my roku in hand to watch the games and installed a 3 point harness in my recliner so I can endure the roller coaster we are about to ride. Hope I can hang on until this bumpy ride comes to an end.


I’m looking at 2018 as year 2 of a rebuild.


My guess is that somewhere in the Spring or Summer of ’16, the decision was made to rebuild. LaRoche and son both retired, Sale went off on Williams then re-purposed the jerseys into dust rags. So my thinking is that year 2 is coming to a close. Not arguing your view on it. It really didn’t show up until 12/16 when Sale was traded so maybe you are right. Doesn’t matter now, we are in full swing of a re-build and the players are going to take whatever time it takes to get good regardless of the calendar.

So did any of the throw back jerseys ever end up on Ebay? I would have bought half a shirt if it had Sale’s number on it.

lil jimmy

Start the rebuild with the Zach Duke trade.


you are correct Jimmy. I forgot about that. It was about mid-season


Once Hostetler replaced Laumann the rebuild was all but a final decision. We didn’t get a two-sport position player until the 8th round last year!

Reindeer Games

I was listening to a podcast yesterday and they were talking about Giolito as a late round high upside sleeper in fantasy because he’s increased his swinging strike percentage in spring training and at the end of last year. Hopefully this can lead to strikeouts.

Lurker Laura

That link wasn’t working when I tried it (something with the Forbes site, not your link), but it’s here, too: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2765933-minor-league-baseball-players-to-lose-minimum-wage-rights-under-spending-bill

This is ridiculous.

Patrick Nolan

Giolito is my guy. He’s going to be a great one for us.

Lurker Laura

Alec Hansen for me.


Fine, You 2. I’ll take Kopech if I must.


One of at least 3 All-Stars on the team this year.

get him on get him over get him in

My first post so please be gentle. I wanted to find out everyone’s opinion on the pitchers nobody is really talking about for the rebuild. It seems if the main guys reach their potential it will be Giolito, Lopez, Kopech, Rodon (if healthy) and I’ll throw in Fulmer(sigh). We still have Hansen, Dunning, and Cease with tons of potential. What happens to guys like Clarkin, Puckett, Adams, Stephens, and Guerrero? Does anyone think they’re part of the rebuild? 

lil jimmy

Adams could start. He’s still young. Clarkin could be a long time bullpen guy.

I, too, will say welcome and don’t be a stranger.

The rebuild needs depth, surprises, trade chips, and varying schedules. All those guys could have a part to play. I’ll leave it to others more qualified than me to say who might be a starter, reliever, bust, or trade chip.


My opinion is that all of them have a chance to be a part of it. They might not be one of the upper-tier guys that we’re directly counting on, but you never know when someone from lower in the ranks will emerge and force themselves into the picture.


Wait, does Sox Machine accept dibs from SSS?


What’s an SSS?

Patrick Nolan

small sample size


Which players on the 40-man are out of options?

I expect the 13-man pitching staff will be whittled to 12 after a reliever-with-options-remaining isn’t getting enough work, and then Cordell will be called up. I just think they’re afraid to be caught short-handed in the pen in the early going and then have to waive someone to bring in an extra arm. If the extra arm is already there, then they’re less worried about exposing a bad reliever to waivers.


Leury, Davidson, Avilan, Farquhar, Yolmer


There’s considerably less sturm und drang surrounding Cordell not making the cut in favor of all the pitchers, but there seems to be a little similarity in fan reactions. I only hope this doesn’t end in similar anticlimax, as I assume in that scenario Cordell hasn’t turned into anything useful at all.

Also, when this article first went up, the top picture was captioned “Lucas Giolito in position to be leader of 13-man man staff,” which was great because “Manstaff” sounds like the name of satirical comic book character in a cartoon. Like, “Dirk Manstaff, adventurer at large.” Or whatever, I don’t have a copyright, and you guys can riff on it however you like.


I was annoyed when Renteria first hinted at a 13 man staff, but I’ve quickly come around. As everyone has mentioned, it will be good to have some backup for the young arms. But also, there really aren’t many players I’d want sitting on the bench at this point. Most of the young position players, especially the ones who have missed a ton of time with injuries, need to get as many at bats as possible.

If that’s not going to happen at he MLB level right now, then I’d rather they be in AAA anyway. Let Leury and Saladino and Narvaez use this time to prove themselves as valuable bench pieces, while the young guys get as many chances as possible to keep working on their games.


Not to mention on the pitching side of things you can bring a few more scratch off tickets to the stadium to see what might hit. If we can net another Cordell or a few more low minor lotto tickets that would be nice.  This is hopefully the last year we are gonna purge bullpen pieces at the deadline for a while. 

lil jimmy

four outfielders seems thin to me. Ya know, since one can’t catch and one can’t hit.


DH for the CF and let the pitchers hit.


Let Saladino play some outfield, I’m sure that’s never gone horribly wrong for him before.