Carlos Rodón needs more time, and Michael Kopech not in position to help

Trust Lucas Giolito at your peril.

As he went on the injured list with a hamstring strain, GIolito’s optimistic view of the White Sox rotation didn’t seem quite right — specifically the third pitcher referenced.

“I feel like I’m going to be good,” Giolito said. “I know Lance is moving along pretty nicely. He just needs to clear up what he’s got going on. Carlos got a little break, and he’s feeling good now. We just have our little buildup here the last month, and then we’re all ready to go.”

The assessment that Carlos Rodón was “feeling good” failed to square up with the evidence, that showed two games with below-average velocity despite below-average pitch counts and above-average rest. Sure enough, he won’t be making his next start as scheduled — if it was even scheduled in the first place — and Tony La Russa has to scramble further.

Rodón won’t be making a start this week against Oakland. Dallas Keuchel will remain on schedule to our chagrin, and Reynaldo López will have to contend with his own stuff concerns that surfaced his last time out, while Tuesday will be a Jimmy Lambert-led experience.

“It’s not a decision that you like doing,” La Russa said. “We like him pitching, but he’s still not experiencing the good feeling, whether it’s fatigue and a little soreness.

“But right now, we’re hoping he can pitch against the Red Sox over the weekend but there are no guarantees there. When he doesn’t feel right, it’s impossible to push it. You don’t even dare, even think of that. We do miss him in the rotation.”

At 119⅔ innings, Rodón is three outs away from matching his third-highest innings total from 2018 after throwing just 42 innings in between. You have to call his overall health a success regardless of how he finishes the season.

The timing exacerbates the issue, as it’s not his fault that Giolito and Lance Lynn are on the injured list at the same time. It also doesn’t help that one of the first-half solutions to a starter shortage is conspicuously absent.

If we were talking about September rotation gaps back in May, we probably would’ve assumed that a healthy Michael Kopech would be able to step into one of those spots. He went 3-for-3 in such opportunities over the first six weeks of the season. He struck out 19 against three walks over 12 innings, during which he allowed a total of 10 baserunners and three runs. The White Sox won all three games.

Yet while Kopech is technically healthy, he hasn’t been a factor for weeks. He has an 8.68 ERA in the second half, giving up a line of .299/.364/.597 over 17 games. There’s nothing in his underlying pitch characteristics that hints at struggles. His velocity is actually increasing, his spin rates didn’t take a hit during the foreign-substance crackdown, nor did his pitch behaviors or release points change.

But he’s been notably worse in two regards:

vs. RHB:

  • First half: .188/.268/.266 over 71 PA
  • Second half: .327/.414/.633 over 58 PA

And with men on:

  • First half: .077/.163/.103 over 43 PA
  • Second half: .375/.450/.750 over 40 PA

I only have suspicions. The diminishing effectiveness and execution could be a manifestation of him pitching a six-month season for the first time since 2018. Perhaps his slider isn’t that great of a pitch, at least hitters are making him prove it’s a real threat, which allows them to key on the fastball and react to the hangers.

The White Sox prepared for this in one regard by acquiring both Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera. When the back end of the bullpen includes those two along with Liam Hendriks and Aaron Bummer, the lethal version of Kopech becomes a luxury. At one point it seemed like Kopech was going to have to become the White Sox’s eighth-inning guy in order to close out games with a minimum of drama. Now they can afford to let him figure it out.

It should have freed up Kopech for the three-inning gigs he dominated over the first couple months of the season, but he’s having a difficult enough time getting through one right now. Perhaps he’ll get a chance for multi-inning work out of necessity, but it might be a situation where he gets a chance to keep rolling, rather than have two or three innings marked off.

The combination of no Rodón, Lynn and Giolito and no Kopech creates an ugly situation, but there’s some solace in knowing that the White Sox could have had this kind of emergency thrust upon them far earlier than the season’s final month. Instead, the five designated starters held up their end of the bargain for just about every turn, which allowed the Sox to withstand injuries in the lineup and time to put out fires in the bullpen.

Now the lineup is just about fully restored outside of Tim Anderson and the bullpen has the sort of depth that offers no excuses, so it’ll give both areas some practice in picking up for a rotation that covered for so much potential ugliness. The uneasiness lies in knowing that they could be practicing for an early exit in October if the Sox can’t their biggest, best arms back in time.

(Photo by Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports

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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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jhomeslice

Hope we get some help from the Twins and Brewers vs the Indians this week. Without their top 3 starters, it’s going to be tough to win more than a game or two against the A’s and Redsox.

HallofFrank

At this point, I don’t even check Cleveland’s score. If they get within 5, then I’ll pay attention again. Until then, I check the other AL playoff hopefuls (especially the Astros) for home-field advantage. In other words, I’m more concerned about home-field advantage in the playoffs than losing the Central.

jhomeslice

I’m not really concerned, but you could easily see the Sox losing 5 out of 6 this week, which would give the Indians an opportunity if they sweep the hapless Twins.

On the home-field front, it’s going to be tough for them to stay with the Astros without Lynn, Giolito, Rodon, TA7 for very long. They don’t have much chance of securing home field without getting some of those guys back relatively soon.

HallofFrank

Sure, but even in the (very) unlikely event that the Sox lose 5 of 6 this week and Cleveland wins 5 of 6, the Sox still have a 5.5 game lead with 19 games remaining and like a 98% chance of keeping that lead.

I don’t think it’ll be that tough. In the last 10, the Sox have gone 6-4 without much help from the guys you mention and the Astros 5-5. The Astros may be the favorites, but it should be close, especially with the cakewalk schedule the Sox have to finish the season after this week.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

1-5 is not that unlikely. The A’s and Redsox are not the Cubs, Pirates, and Royals. They will be at a big disadvantage with a rotation of Lambert, Keuchel, Lopez, ?, Cease, Lambert for their next 6 against two good teams, unless Lynn or Rodon pitches vs Boston.

Hope they get lucky and kill a couple opposing pitchers to win a high scoring game or two. They are going to have a tough go of it while Cease is their #1 starter, if only for a short while.

HallofFrank

Well, yes, going 1-5 is pretty unlikely on its own—surely less than 15% chance of that happening. But note I said it’s very unlikely that the Sox go 1-5 *and* Cleveland goes 5-1.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I’m not worried about the Indians, personally. Even if they could lose some ground pretty quickly. But they could also lose some ground to the Astros, which could be hard to make up.

Hope you’re right and they win at least a couple the next 2 series. I doubt it will be a fun week to follow them with what could be dreadful starting pitching, we’ll see.

Last edited 11 months ago by LamarHoyt_oncrack
soxfan

West coast start times will make the first series easy to avoid.

billm2214

Kind of hope Cleveland gets its act together (like 05) and forces the Sox to start playing baseball again instead of spring training. This team will be lucky to win one game this fall.

asinwreck

Today is Labor Day. This week, the Hall of Fame will honor Marvin Miller posthumously. To commemorate his induction, Evan Drellich wrote an extraordinary extended essay in The Athletic on Miller’s career and legacy, interviewing Don Fehr, Lauren Rich, and Brooks Robinson. A short snippet:

[The players] needed a process to resolve disputes quickly and a neutral party who would judge them. Going on strike constantly, or tying up the courts with lawsuits that could take years, was impractical.“The players would see the results of these things,” Fehr said. “So what Marvin was doing was slowly, patiently, deliberately, quietly saying the world doesn’t actually work the way you think it does. And it can work in ways which will be much more beneficial to you if you are willing to take advantage of those things. In other words, Marvin was teaching them.”

Read the rest. It provides excellent historical context for the state of the game today, why Miller’s induction into the Hall is long overdue, and why it’s no surprise his honor is posthumous.

bonomo

This piece sent a shudder of dread through me.

digger0910

This isaaaaaaaa not so good, you guys.

Sox Fan in Lowell Michigan

Medium-long-term, I think the Sox need a “head” coach (or a better one), and better training/strength/stretching coaches. Hamstrings and strains and stuff like that should not happen this much with proper conditioning and warm-up. And Cease, Kopech, Kimbrel, and Hendricks (and probably Lopez) all need psychiatric help because they suck when their head is not right.

Willardmarshall

I’m old enough to remember when the White Sox were known for suffering remarkably few injuries….

GrinnellSteve

Who will be the game 1, 2, and 3 starters if Lynn, Giolito, Rodon, Kopech, and Lopez are on the IL and Keuchel is out of baseball? Please don’t say Bieber, Plesac, and McKenzie.

babe ridge

Would love to share a beer with anyone else hitting up MassiveFoulTerritory.com Coliseum this week. Between the Lambert/Keuchel/ReyLo thing and the fact that it seems the Sox struggle in Oakland even when they don’t, I’ll likely be in need of some commiseration.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Twins gave a little help tonight. We’ll take it even if unlikely to come down to the wire.

dfroke97

Hi everyone, I apologize for posting something off-topic, but my dad asked me to write a message to you all on his behalf. My dad, roke1960 on SoxMachine, is in the hospital currently battling a pretty bad case of pneumonia. He’s been battling his health ever since his mother passed away a few weeks back and it has now landed him in the hospital. He asked me to post a comment on here letting you all know why he’s been absent in the discussions and to say “Go Sox!”

Many of you have interacted with him here on the site, especially on Sporcle Saturday quizzes. And some even at last year’s SoxFest and the after party. He’s always loved being a part of this community and could definitely use some good thoughts and vibes headed his way. Thank you all!

Joliet Orange Sox

I think I speak for all when I say we wish him well with his recovery. He’s great at those quizzes (he and asinwreck are the two posters who routinely get great scores). I like to think of Sox Machine as a community and I’m glad your dad does as well. Get well soon!

I was about to add something about being sure your dad has other things to worry about than the Sox while he’s in the hospital but then I remembered the one time I was hospitalized during the baseball season. My wife says she knew I’d be fine when my one question for the nurse settling me in my room was did the hospital tv get what was then called Comcast Sportsnet Chicago and what channel was it.

burning-phoneix

I definitely noticed your father’s absence in the comments. I hope he gets better soon and rejoins us in time for the playoffs!

As Cirensica

I have high regard of Roke’s insightful comments here and in the Sportcle, and I wish him nothing but a very quick and perfect recovery.

asinwreck

Pneumonia’s no fun. May roke1960 be breathing easily very soon, and our best wishes to him and your family.

burning-phoneix

This is all a conspiracy by Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams to screw over Boras and drive down Rodon’s contract demands in the offseason. WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

calcetinesblancos

This is definitely a situation where you could consider the glass half empty or half full and be right either way. On the one hand, things seem to be falling apart right now with the pitching. But on the other, at least this is happening now and not a month from now.

We have a month to get things sorted. And it’s easy to be pessimistic but I still think we’ll be in a good place once the playoffs begin.