Brad Keller on the way out, Noah Schultz on the way up to Birmingham

Brad Keller (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Brad Keller’s run in the White Sox rotation was short and ended gruesomely in The Bronx.

Right after taking Michael Soroka’s spot in the rotation earlier this week, multiple sources say Keller was designated for assignment Sunday after the Sox were swept by the Yankees this weekend.

Reliever Dominic Leone, first eligible to come off the injured list on Monday, is confirmed to be the corresponding move. Because the Sox will not need to fill Keller’s vacated rotation spot until they return home for a four-game set against the Orioles, they have yet to announce a replacement.

It’s a quick hook for Keller, after he was roughed up for four home runs in as many innings on Saturday in New York, spiking his ERA to 4.86 in 16 2/3 frames. His best years overlapped with Pedro Grifol in Kansas City, who spoke highly of his progression throughout in spring training. For a team expected to sell at the deadline, Keller initially appeared as usable and versatile depth who could move back and forth between the back of the rotation and the bullpen. His initial peripherals and over 50 percent ground ball rate in returning from offseason surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome don’t seem out of the realm of expectations for Keller, nor does having a bad outing against a hot offense in The Bronx.

Nevertheless, Keller was also not a fulcrum of the Sox vision for the season, and it appears there are more wheels in motion organizationally than just him and Michael Soroka, who struck out seven (but walked four) in four innings of relief on Saturday and tickled 97 mph on his fastball for the first time in his career.

Soroka would be an easy and ready candidate to take Keller’s place. But notably, multiple sources confirmed that top pitching prospect Noah Schultz is getting promoted to Double-A Birmingham. At 20, Schultz’s elevated 3.95 ERA at High-A Winston-Salem belies peripheral numbers (38.2 percent strikeout rate, one home run allowed to 110 batters faced) that are slightly even more dominant than he was last season in Low-A Kannapolis.

Schultz has already exceed his innings total from last year by a single out (27 1/3), and with a rough 75-80 inning workload plan for his season, this move allows for the Sox to see of meaningful sample of how his stuff plays and what adjustments he’ll need against Double-A hitters. Schultz is also expected to be joined by fellow first round pick Jacob Gonzalez, who is hitting .273/.364/.399 in High-A with more walks than strikeouts, but has looked especially improved in the last month as he’s acclimated to offseason swing changes.

While Schultz has only been pitching once per week this season, his arrival in Birmingham could serve as the catalyst for Drew Thorpe getting promoted to Triple-A Charlotte. Already lauded for his polish upon arrival in the Dylan Cease trade, Thorpe has looked overqualified at Double-A outside of a single random clunker last Sunday. A rebound effort his last time out put Thorpe at a 1.50 ERA in 40 innings, with opposing hitters managing a .179/.247/.214 line against him. If Thorpe moves to Charlotte, it would backfill their rotation if the Sox call upon either Nick Nastrini or Jonathan Cannon in the immediate or near future.

That’s a lot of speculation by the end, but Keller looks like the victim of a roster crunch (and literally is, given Leone) more than someone that the Sox ran out until his results provided no vision for better future. Ultimately most of the current major league roster is subject to getting shuffled out in service of a better Sox future, so rotation turnover will be norm for the next few months.


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Back from whence you came!


Speaking of the impending trades, while i dont think he will keep hitting around .320 if Pham hangs around .300 what level of prospect could you get for a guy like him? I know it all depends on who needs what for a 37 year old on a 1 year deal but if he keeps around this level at the plate along with the intangibles that he has would be nice if the Sox could get more then just a roll of the dice.

Warren Z

We might get something good for him, but keep in mind that every other team in baseball had a chance to sign him after he hit .421 in the World Series.

If the market wasn’t that big for him right after he starred on baseball’s biggest stage, why would it be so much larger now after a few good weeks for a last-place team?


I’m thinking someone in a team’s #8-15 range, depending on how deep that team’s farm is. Definitely not getting a top 100 guy. That said, you can find a potentially useful reliever in that range, so a Grossman-like return isn’t unreasonable. Maybe they could even do a little better if he keeps hitting so well.


Folks should refresh themselves on what Pham returned last year to the Mets. It’s no guarantee he’ll get the same return, of course, but if he’s playing well and generally healthy, I don’t see why the Sox wouldn’t start somewhere in that ballpark. And they have his D’Backs success to point to, too.


Pham was also getting paid double his current contract last season, which doesn’t mean a ton for midseason trades, but it can’t hurt his value.


Pham has a 144 OPS+ this year vs 126 at the time of the trade, so he’s hitting markedly better. as well as getting paid much less, as bobsquad said. His value will depend on a lot of factors, most notably injuries and underperformance on teams that view themselves as contenders. But if he keeps hitting like this, there’s no question he should fetch a larger return than last year.


You misunderstand me: I was suggesting you’re underrating his value, not overrating it.


To be more specific: you said “definitely not getting a top 100 guy.” He fetched a top 100 guy last year.


Sorry, I’d looked at the return and saw Jeremy Rodriguez with the Mets paying cash. Then I see Rodriguez just #12 on the Mets’ farm this year. Was Rodriguez really a top 100 at the time of the trade? I just don’t remember seeing his name on any lists.


A hearty “fuck you” to everyone responsible for subjecting me to seeing Brad Keller don a White Sox uniform. Like cool, he’s gone now. He still wore that uniform. Still wore that city connect that Tim had a hand in designing (maybe that was overstated for PR reasons idk). Disgusting. Offensive. And it was done for literally no gain. He ate some innings, that’s it. Just one more pointless indignity to have suffered as a fan for this team.

Warren Z

If Anderson happened to still be on the team, or had ended his Sox stint on better terms, then you might have a point about having Keller on this team. But even then such a point might not be all that relevant.

You might be interesting in knowing that the Dodgers of the 1950s traded for a guy, Russ “Monk” Meyer, who had been in scuffles with Jackie Robinson, and this deal was made while Jackie was still on the Dodgers. Jackie and Monk made peace very quickly and the team won a few pennants, including its first World Series, with Monk on the roster.

So, if Jackie Robinson and a former rival could be teammates on a very successful team, then there is no reason whatsoever for the Sox to avoid signing a guy just because he once had a run-in with Tim Anderson, who is no longer on the team.

I don’t mind Keller being DFA’d, but I would rather have him on this team instead of Clevinger.

Warren Z

James, if Keller is not claimed after being DFA’d, would the Sox still be able to keep him in the organization? Or would he have the option of becoming a free agent?


I believe Keller has the option to leave. And James made it sound like he felt like he was leaving.


To expand on his point on Schultz’ promotion seeming better if you look at his advanced metrics: FIP last year was 3.11 vs this year’s 2.21. xFIP is nearly identical 2.51 vs 2.54. HR/FB rate has been cut from 13.6% to 5.6%. Hits and walks per 9 are both slightly up, and the groundball rate has gone down significantly (which is the big blemish in my mind at 50% down to 33.9%). But they appear to be hitting him less hard than last year and he’s striking out over a batter per 9 more. Plus, he’s even younger for A+ than he was for A last year. He just needs to ward against big innings and he’ll be fine.

I do wonder whether he’ll continue to get just 4IP/start, almost like clockwork, or if they’ll start stretching him out just a little, especially if he’s having an efficient outing, like 52 pitches through 4 or something.


I read about development people wondering if pitchers should be stretched out. When guys know they are only going 4 max, they max out their throwing. They don’t learn to pace themselves.


I read that, too. They also don’t learn as much of some of the subtle nuances of pitching, like how to attack a batting order the 2nd and 3rd time through. It’s like your pacing comment, but with pitch selection. You attacked this guy fastball, changeup, slider first time and got a weak groundout. What do you start him with 2nd time up? Also, do you use your best pitch on this guy with a runner on 1B and 2 outs or wait until he’s up next time and the stakes might be higher? If you’re only going 4 innings, you might not see him again, so there’s no reason to not use your best pitch. If you’re going 5 or 6, you might want that pitch in your back pocket to fool him.

Warren Z

You’re right.

When guys are only going four innings per start, at most, then they really aren’t being developed to be starting pitchers. At least not yet.

At some point, his amount of innings and pitches will need to increase. Because he has pitched so few innings in his pro career, there probably won’t be a significant rise anytime soon.

While I think it’s great that this kid has shown good stuff in the limited innings that he has worked, he still has to show that he can be the type of pitcher who won’t burn out your bullpen during every start that he makes.


Two promotions to Birmingham and no promotion to Charlotte yet?

A six man rotation In Birmingham with Schultz limited to 4 innings should get the bullpen some work. I agree that Thorpe looks ready for promotion; his one bad outing hinged on a 3-2 pitch being called a ball – even the announcer for the other team thought it was a bad call. And the Sox have a pitch limit per inning that Santos has to enforce. And I would like to see how Thorpe does in the Charlotte band box.


I’m honestly curious why Thorpe hasn’t gotten a promotion to AAA yet. If Schultz deserves a promotion, Thorpe deserves one even more so. 1.49 ERA over 72.1AA innings, I just don’t know what he has left to prove down in Birmingham.