White Sox 2018 Grades – Pitchers

To complete the grading process, which started with Monday’s position-player review, here are assessments of the 2018 White Sox pitchers. To reiterate some context from that post, these grades are more art than science due to the subjective nature of how much expectations for a player should affect their grade. My goal is to balance actual player performance against their expectations and probable role (both short-term and long-term) entering the season.

Per usual, I consider an average grade to be someplace on the C/C+ borderline.

To keep the length of this list similar to that on the position-player side, only pitchers that logged at least 25 innings will be included. To orient you, Thyago Vieira and Chris Beck were the most-used players to miss the cut.

Jeanmar Gomez (RP): 26 G, 25.0 IP, 23.7% K, 8.8% BB, 3 HR, 4.68 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 0.2 fWAR, -0.2 bWAR

Gomez salvaged respectable season-long numbers with a strong September pitching in garbage time, but don’t let the above fool you; Gomez saved his worst for close games. He logged six holds and had just one blown save, but the reverse would have been more appropriate; Gomez had one shutdown and six meltdowns, and his Win Probability Added (WPA) of -0.79 was second-worst among all Sox relievers. All six of his “holds” involved recording a single out, and only three of those involved more outs than baserunners. 3.88 FIP or not, Gomez was one of the most frustrating regular pitchers in the bullpen. Grade: D-

Xavier Cedeno (RP): 33 G, 25.1 IP, 26.4% K, 12.3% BB, 1 HR, 2.84 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 0.4 fWAR, 0.6 bWAR

Cedeno was a pleasant surprise that emerged as an effective LOOGY who was plenty capable of getting right-handed hitters out as well. He came from essentially nowhere to become a viable trade piece. The walks were on the high side, but Cedeno worked out about as well as anyone could have wanted. His grade is ultimately limited by role. Grade: B+

Bruce Rondon (RP): 35 G, 29.2 IP, 26.0% K, 17.5% BB, 1 HR, 8.49 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 0.2 fWAR, -1.3 bWAR

Rondon had a turn during the season as one of the pen’s most effective relievers, but he’s probably better remembered for his implosions and getting cut for control issues. Five of his outings went for three or more runs, the result of Rondon occasionally showing up with no command and Rick Renteria being content with punting a game and letting him wear it. His other 30 appearances, however, involved a 2.32 ERA. The White Sox did manage to get some good use out of this minor league free agent signing before everything went south and the bloated ERA is partially due to managerial indifference. However, he got cut by a 2018 White Sox team with an otherwise superlative tolerance for failure. It’s hard to ignore that. Grade: F

Nate Jones (RP): 33 G, 30.0 IP, 23.4% K, 11.0% BB, 4 HR, 3.00 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 0.0 fWAR, 0.3 bWAR

It was a difficult season for Jones, as he lost yet another losing battle against his health. Believe it or not, that 30.0 IP mark is Jones’ second-highest since 2013. This time, the culprit was (the dreaded) forearm soreness and it held him out for about half the year. When able to pitch, Jones wasn’t terrible, but his continued fall from being one of the game’s top firemen was visible in his reduced ability to miss bats. Grade: D+

Aaron Bummer (RP): 37 G, 31.2 IP, 24.3% K, 6.9% BB, 1 HR, 4.26 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 0.7 fWAR, -0.1 bWAR

Bummer continued to neutralize left-handers in 2018 (.245/.298/.302, 5:1 K/BB), at least to the extent he was afforded the platoon advantage. With a very crowded left side of the bullpen, Bummer was often relegated to mop-up duty (or worse: Charlotte), a fate that he didn’t actually deserve. It’s reasonable to assume his aggregate numbers would have looked better had he been used in accordance with his future role, and his outlook remains roughly unchanged since the start of the season. Grade: C+

Carson Fulmer (SP/RP): 9 G, 32.1 IP, 17.7% K, 14.6% BB, 8 HR, 8.07 ERA, 7.27 FIP, -0.6 fWAR, -1.0 bWAR

Expectations for Fulmer were easily the lowest among the trio of prospects that began the season in the rotation. Many walks, homers, and inefficient innings later, the bar has descended so low that James Cameron may never return from his search for it. Fulmer found himself relocated both to Charlotte and to the bullpen. He might never return from either. There’s not much more to say here; Fulmer was horrible. Grade: F

Joakim Soria (RP): 40 G, 38.2 IP, 29.9% K, 6.1% BB, 2 HR, 2.56 ERA, 2.16 FIP, 1.4 fWAR, 1.0 bWAR

Soria didn’t make the best first impression and was even removed from the closer’s role for a little while. However, there’s no questioning that he was fantastic for the White Sox. He only allowed a run in one game between May 21 and his trade to Milwaukee in late July for a couple of prospects. In Soria, the White Sox acquired a veteran player and experienced the best-case scenario. Imagine that. Grade: A

Luis Avilan (RP): 58 G, 39.2 IP, 26.7% K, 8.1% BB, 2 HR, 3.86 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 0.9 fWAR, 0.3 bWAR

Score another one for The Jake Peter Trade (actually, score a third, if you want to count Peter’s stagnance in the PCL). Avilan did his job and gave the White Sox the LOOGY they’ve generally lacked, and true to expectations, he was competent enough against right-handed hitters to be trusted to face them. Like Soria, he pitched himself into a trade, which is to say that he accomplished his mission. Grade: B+

Juan Minaya (RP): 52 G, 46.2 IP, 27.8% K, 13.9% BB, 3 HR, 3.28 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 0.7 fWAR, 0.9 bWAR

The White Sox bullpen was thoroughly underrated by fans in 2018 and Juan Minaya is one of the reasons why. We spent most of the year looking for players who could take a step forward and Minaya was a pretty dependable reliever after he was recalled in June, as he allowed just a .220/.316/.329 line the rest of the way. Minaya allowed 9 walks in 3.1 innings to open the year and that led to a demotion that he certainly deserved. That rough beginning stung his season-long numbers, but if we look past that, this is a player who showed real growth. Grade: B+

Chris Volstad (RP): 33 G, 47.1 IP, 13.5% K, 5.6% BB, 9 HR, 6.27 ERA, 5.36 FIP, -0.4 fWAR, -0.6 bWAR

Chris Volstad. Grade: F

Jace Fry (RP): 59 G, 51.1 IP, 32.7% K, 9.4% BB, 4 HR, 4.38 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 1.2 fWAR, 0.1 bWAR

After scuffling mightily in his cup of coffee last season, Fry was a revelation in 2018. He made a mockery of opposing left-handed hitters (.143/.217/.190) and rendered righties mediocre enough that he could carry full innings. Fry’s numbers speak for themselves, but if you’re really worried about that 4.38 number, there’s a perfectly redeeming story behind it (“Bequeathed Baserunners: What Those Jerks at ERA Corp. Won’t Tell You“). Other than a handful of legitimate prospects and older veterans, the White Sox roster was comprised of a bunch of fringe guys and retreads who were awarded the opportunity to disprove meager expectations and entrench themselves into the White Sox’ future plans. This statement is rather damning with respect to the rest of the roster, but Fry is the only marginal prospect who truly made the most of that chance. Grade: A

Hector Santiago (SP/RP): 49 G, 102.0 IP, 22.4% K, 13.0% BB, 16 HR, 4.50 ERA, 5.09 FIP, -0.2 fWAR, 0.6 bWAR

Santiago was largely effective in his role of swingman, but where he really shone was in extra innings. He appeared in extras five times this year and notched either the win or the save in four of those games. He took the loss in the other by allowing a single run in his second full inning of work, which was the only run he allowed in nine extra innings on the season. Santiago flew under the radar as one of the Sox’ most clutch relievers (WPA: +0.83) when put into important situations and he logged eight shutdowns compared to just two meltdowns. The aggregate numbers were nothing special, but Santiago generally had a positive impact on the team. Grade: C+

Carlos Rodon (SP): 20 G, 120.2 IP, 17.6% K, 10.8% BB, 15 HR, 4.18 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 0.7 fWAR, 2.0 bWAR

Upon returning from the DL, Rodon tossed 20 starts that averaged 6 innings apiece, and that’s a success story in of itself given his shoulder problems. His performance, however, was a mixed bag. He’d occasionally show up looking like a dominant ace and sometimes fight control problems and a concerning inability to miss bats. What saved his ERA was generally weak contact, as evidenced by a .242 BABIP and .312 xwOBA. However, it’s unclear what we’re supposed to take from that. “His stuff is so good that guys can’t hit him hard, but also his stuff is not good enough to get guys to swing and miss.” That doesn’t scan, so something is going to have to give for Rodon going forward. Still, in 2018, Rodon was an important Non-Clown for the White Sox. Grade: C+

Dylan Covey (SP/RP): 27 G, 121.2 IP, 16.8% K, 9.6% BB, 13 HR, 5.18 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 1.1 fWAR, -0.2 bWAR

Covey’s yet another pitcher on this list for whom there were little-to-no expectations at the outset of the season. He was legitimately excellent (with peripherals to match) through his first six starts, after which the wheels began to come off. One wonders whether he was a victim of scouting catching up to him, as Covey stopped being able to freeze hitters with hard sinkers up in the zone. He was eventually demoted to the bullpen and looked respectable again after taking over for Michael Kopech in September. Covey had a deserved reputation for mowing hitters down his first trip through the order (.625 OPS against) before things fell apart upon second viewing (.836 OPS against). Ultimately, he wasn’t the pleasant surprise the 2018 White Sox needed, but a useful role as a swingman isn’t out of the question. At the very least, we can say Covey’s more interesting now than he was in March. Grade: C-

Lucas Giolito (SP): 32 G, 173.1 IP, 16.1% K, 11.6% BB, 27 HR, 6.13 ERA, 5.56 FIP, -0.2 fWAR, -1.3 bWAR

Given Giolito’s strong finish to the 2017 season and a sterling spring training, it was widely (and justifiably) assumed that Giolito was the top candidate to become the 2018 White Sox’ best starting pitcher. Instead, he floundered harder than every starter not named Carson Fulmer. Giolito finished with by far the highest ERA among qualified starters, and he only pitched enough innings to qualify because the White Sox didn’t want to burn his last minor league option. His control was often nonexistent and he frequently had starts in which he could only command one pitch. He had about a month and a half of strong pitching in the second half, but that was erased by a horrid September (9.27 ERA, .316/.400/.526 against). Giving up on Giolito would be a mistake, but that said, he curtailed expectations about as much as he could. This season was somewhere in the bottom decile of what could have been expected from him, and while one’s emotions might want to fight it, there’s really no good justification for any other grade. Grade: F

Reynaldo Lopez (SP): 32 G, 188.2 IP, 18.9% K, 9.4% BB, 25 HR, 3.91 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 2.0 fWAR, 3.1 bWAR

A glowing ERA masked what was actually disappointingly shaky pitching for most of the early part of the year, but Lopez really cranked things up a notch in the last couple months of the season. His last seven starts featured two or fewer earned runs apiece, and he fully earned that excellent result: 45.2 IP, 48/14 K/BB, 2 HR, .173/.242./.247 allowed. He entered 2018 with questions about his future role and exited as the clear best pitcher on the starting staff (to the extent that’s an honor). That’s a big development, and while his aggregate peripherals are hindered by four months of tepid pitching, Lopez has given us something to dream on. Grade: B+

James Shields (SP): 34 G, 204.2 IP, 17,7% K, 9.0% BB, 34 HR, 4.53 ERA, 5.09 FIP, 0.8 fWAR, 1.4 bWAR

The White Sox needed Shields to eat innings in-between potentially-rough prospect starts and the major league leader in losses did so very reliably. The per-inning quality of pitching wasn’t anything to get excited over and he didn’t ultimately build himself into a trade chip, but he served his purpose and kept the White Sox in games much more often than not. He was cited by multiple players as a good influence, to boot. Given how poorly his White Sox tenure began, this relationship could certainly have ended a lot worse. Grade: C+

The Class Rank:

  1. Jace Fry, A
  2. Joakim Soria, A
  3. Reynaldo Lopez, B+
  4. Juan Minaya, B+
  5. Xavier Cedeno, B+
  6. Luis Avilan, B+
  7. James Shields, C+
  8. Hector Santiago, C+
  9. Carlos Rodon, C+
  10. Aaron Bummer, C+
  11. Dylan Covey, C-
  12. Nate Jones, D+
  13. Jeanmar Gomez, D-
  14. Bruce Rondon, F
  15. Lucas Giolito, F
  16. Chris Volstad, F
  17. Carson Fulmer, F
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Jace Fry, A-
Joakim Soria, B+
Reynaldo Lopez, A
Juan Minaya, A
Xavier Cedeno, B+
Luis Avilan, B
James Shields, B-
Hector Santiago, B+
Carlos Rodon, C+
Aaron Bummer, C+
Dylan Covey, D
Nate Jones, F
Jeanmar Gomez,F
Bruce Rondon, F
Lucas Giolito, F
Chris Volstad, F
Carson Fulmer, F- 2000




An enjoyable opening day. The cocksucker.

Eagle Bones

What would frys grade have been if he hadn’t cut his hair?


F. He would have never made it big if he didnt cut his hair. That hair was a thing of losers. Opposite of Samson.


Just how good is Fry against righties? Does he have high leverage, full inning reliever in his future? Or is he more likely to be just a lefty-killer?

Trooper Galactus

Easy Heat: The Return


Excellent. I think I attended every single one of his rough outings this year, so I’m scarred by that. This is good to hear.

Eagle Bones

The stuff looks really good in shorter stints (ie coming out of the pen).

Lurker Laura

That would make me very happy.

Trooper Galactus

I’d have given Lopez an A- simply because a rookie pitcher who provides average to above average value and shows marked improvement over the course of the year (finishing at a high level) is damn fine work. Probably would have put Rodon ahead of Shields simply for providing similar value in fewer starts and at least flashing something to dream on beyond pitching a lot of innings.


Grades more for what the player’s performance means for the future rather than wins and losses in 2018:

Jace Fry, A (looks like a significant piece of the next good Sox bullpen)
Joakim Soria, A (pitched well enough to land Kodi Medeiros, who has a chance to be something)
Reynaldo Lopez, B (finished strong and looks like he may be durable enough to be a good starter)
Carlos Rodon, B- (flashes of great promise followed by a terrible final month, but way better as a first year after shoulder surgery than anything we saw from John Danks. Grade inflated by being healthy in October, which has been rare for Rodon.)
Juan Minaya, B- (was sufficiently effective to merit more chances in 2019 as a wave of pitching comes up behind him)
Xavier Cedeno, B- (see Soria, with lighter return)
Luis Avilan, B- (see Cedeno)
Aaron Bummer, B- (looks useful for 2019, though how Renteria assigns innings for his lefty relievers will determine how much action he sees)
James Shields, C (his innings reduced stress on the younger pitchers)
Hector Santiago, C (did everything asked of him, though his days of being valuable enough to land an Eaton are in the distant past)
Dylan Covey, D+ (grade inflated by a brief stretch of amazing starts; was badly overexposed and may find more success in a bullpen role)
Lucas Giolito, D (of course his statistics are terrible; he did, however, finish healthy and there’s a good chance we will look back on his stronger starts as building blocks…or the beginning of the end)
Nate Jones, D- (The contract gives him another chance, but he destroyed his trade value and he makes Rodon look like Don Sutton in terms of health and durability)
Jeanmar Gomez, F (flotsam)
Rob Scahill, F (jetsam)
Bruce Rondon, F (well, that was entertaining for a second)
Chris Beck F (when you are too terrible to finish the season with the 2018 Sox, that says even more than when you are picked up by the 2018 Mets)
Chris Volstad, F (he lasted longer than Beck…)
Tyler Danish, F (remember when Sox player development staff were bullish on Danish as a starter? Consider than a comment on Sox scouting acumen than a comment on Danish)
Carson Fulmer, F (remember when Sox player development staff were bullish on Fulmer as a starter? He’s given less cause for optimism than Giolito has, and Giolito’s ERA was 6.13)


With Giolito’s inconsistent mechanics, developing an injury is a great worry as he tries to figure things out. So, the fact that didn’t happen provides hope. As does the bizarre tendency to be horrid in the first inning followed by 4-5 pretty good innings. I can’t ever recall seeing a pitcher perform quite like this and do not want to discount that the flailing about is providing him something to build on for the future. (Fulmer, on the other hand, does not fascinate me so much as provide consistent depression. Giolito’s inconsistency is relatively uplifting.)

Trooper Galactus

You’ve offered an explanation and I still have no idea how you could have possibly felt positive about pretty much any aspect of Giolito’s season. He was basically Carson Fulmer without an extra option to burn.


Giolito had flashes where he’d show something, which was more than Fulmer could say. See, for example, his flirting-with-effectiveness stretch in July and August that moved Jeff Sullivan to write the horridly-timed article “Lucas Giolito Is Saving His Season” just as Giolito went into the toilet for the final month.

What’s maddening is he can never consolidate gains, and I understand why he gets so many F grades. If next year’s performance matches this year’s, he’ll get one from me as well.

As Cirensica

Nah….players, almost any, will have “flashes” of excellence during some short points in their career. Let’s talk about it when it’s more on a consistent basis.

Trooper Galactus

Even Fulmer flashed potential at times, but the wheels really came off this year. That July-August stretch you referenced saw Giolito throw Game Scores of 23, 27, and 31. His effectiveness came in a good three start (64, 72, 51) and four start (50, 54, 72, 71) burst, but they were still broken up by starts that can only be classified as utter disasters (first start in September: 29).

Over those 11 starts, he posted a 4.48 ERA; hardly anything to write home about. Yes, when he was on, he looked really good, but as stated by As Cirensica, Giolito’s issue has been establishing consistency, and outside of that brief window (where he still fell flat on his face a few times) he was horribly inconsistent from start to finish.


Great job Pnoles; Though like the others I’d have given Lopez an A. Your justification for the B+ is good. But I’ve been on his bandwagon well before all you haters, so he gets a big fat A AND a gold star.