The White Sox altered the composition of their pitching staff today in response to series of ugly starts and another potentially short one on the way. In the process, they illustrated just how much they failed to accomplish on the pitching front over the last year.
Dylan Covey, whom the White Sox tried to prevent from being necessary in the rotation after two previous attempts to stick failed, is starting, and not just to fill a day.
Juan Minaya, whom the White Sox outrighted to Charlotte in the middle of massive struggles and a step back in stuff during spring training, is back in the bullpen because he now resembles a relatively fresh arm.
The season is less than one-fifth of the way through.
Covey joined the roster earlier in the week after Carlos Rodón hit the injured list. Minaya is back today, not because he’s pitching well in Charlotte, but because the White Sox need a new bodyto back up Covey in a bullpen day. (Jon Jay was shifted to the 60-day injured list to open a roster spot.)
It took a staggering succession of failures for the White Sox to resort to things that already hadn’t worked.
- Ervin Santana lasted only three starts, forcing Manny Bañuelos into the rotation.
- The interior of Rodon’s elbow and forearm started bleeding.
- Dylan Cease hasn’t yet pulled off a string of strong starts, and every other Charlotte starter is getting rocked.
- Ian Hamilton didn’t have a proper spring training due to a car accident.
- Covey was needed for rotation depth.
- Nate Jones went on the injured list with elbow inflammation.
- Ryan Burr went on the injured list with a/c joint inflammation.
- Carson Fulmer still can’t throw strikes post-Driveline.
- Jose Ruiz started stabilizing just in time to throw 64 pitches over two straight games.
- Thyago Vieira had already been optioned and can’t be recalled for another week.
- The rotation shows no sign of improving, making eight pitchers (and Jose Rondón) seemingly necessary.
And that list doesn’t even include three relievers who weren’t part of the Opening Day plan but seem to have stuck for the time being (Evan Marshall, Josh Osich and Aaron Bummer).
Again, the season is only 31 games old.
The White Sox entered the season with a fair amount of intriguing relievers, and while the conversion rate hasn’t been as high as anybody would like, the meltdown in the rotation (6.82 ERA) has exacerbated all growing pains. Iván Nova is no James Shields, and that’s no longer an automatic compliment.
And somewhere in the middle of it all, Carson Fulmer is lost. His May has been a disaster, with more walks (seven) than outs recorded (five) over three outings, and he hasn’t struck out any of the 17 batters he’s faced, either. He threw just 47 percent of his pitches for strikes.
The White Sox will probably keep giving Fulmer opportunities, because he’s in his fourth and final option year and the Sox need to know if there’s anything there before moving on. It’s hard to see what’s left, as they’ve already shuttled him from the rotation to low-leverage work, but time will provide an answer no matter what.
“Wait it out” doen’t solve the White Sox rotation, at least until Cease can make a better case that the Sox aren’t rushing him due to present-day emergencies. And even then, he’s only one guy, and none of the White Sox rotation spots are entirely stable.
This is the kind of situation that Tampa Bay and Oakland faced due to injury last season, and that’s when both organizations resorted to openers and beat the odds. Don Cooper and the Sox have been averse to the idea, but the results have shown they’re also reluctant to find and develop competent starters, so something may have to give.