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When Dylan Cease was scheduled for today’s finale against the Rockies with Lucas Giolito on the calendar for Thursday’s make-up game against the Guardians, fans wondered whether the Sox mixed up their knifefight appointment with their gunfight appointment.
Now that Miguel Cairo announced that Lance Lynn is likely to start at Progressive Field, order is restored to both the big and small pictures.
Some may think that using Cease against a team like the Rockies is overkill, but 1) Jacob deGrom just lost to the Cubs at home, and 2) a start today lines up the most possible starts for Cease the rest of the way.
Cease would normally be line for four starts over the last 20 games of a season, but since the Sox are idle on the next two Mondays, they can squeeze in a fifth start without forcing Cease to start on short rest.
It also lines up the White Sox’s preferred postseason starters for the first three games of the four remaining against Cleveland. Maybe you’d prefer to see Cease twice and Lynn once, but I’m comfortable with this version, because the Sox are forced rely on Lynn to maintain his recent greatness if they’re going to make up ground in the Central. This approach best balances what they can use now, and what they’re going to need.
Should the Sox find themselves in a position of considering a postseason rotation at the end of all this, Lynn would be lined up for Game 1 regardless of how much advance planning fate afforded them. Meanwhile, Cease would be freed up to be used on short rest in either of his last two starts should that look like the best option remaining, but he’s capped at five starts regardless, and circumstances will determine how they’re dispersed.
As for the other two loose ends, Rick Hahn didn’t offer any nutritive answers with regards to Tony La Russa’s timetable. He talked to reporters through Zoom due to testing positive for COVID-19, and he described a La Russa who is hovering over the proceedings more literally than figuratively at the moment.
“I don’t have a ton to add to what Tony has already shared. Frankly, at the start of this process he asked us to respect his privacy when it comes to his personal health information, which we obviously have and will continue to do so.
“Tony will be watching today and tomorrow from a suite at the ballpark during the games. He’ll be watching in person and obviously won’t be managing and not in uniform. As for if and when that may occur, we simply don’t have that information at this point, and in the end, we’re going to understandably follow the advice of medical experts on this one.”
Given that Bob Nightengale has been free to share La Russa’s condition along the way, I’m not sure I buy privacy-related arguments. I’m more inclined to believe Hahn has his hands tied between what he’d like to see happen, and what Jerry Reinsdorf will allow to happen, and the fewer things he has to say in the interim, the better. But between Nightengale’s recent story about Miguel Cairo’s team and La Russa’s unwillingness to give an ETA, I’d guess that La Russa is done for the year.
It’s still a strange spectacle, so much so that Ken Rosenthal had to resort to the blogger’s cry of the open letter in restoring order. He wants the White Sox to turn the page, partially because White Sox staffers appear to need the same thing:
Your relationship with coaches was another issue. Most staffs today are highly collaborative. Your style is far more autonomous. Some coaches were OK with that, I’m told. Others were not. Your emphasis on hits and contact ran counter to the hitting coaches’ goals for achieving power through patience. Cairo cited his respect for you in explaining why he refrained from calling out the team sooner; clearly, he did not feel empowered to take a stand.
But these are the White Sox, who do not handle any managerial hiring/firing cycle with dignity. The best we can hope for is that Cairo has been told what’s up, and he’s refraining from issuing any kind of statement that could be interpreted as celebratory.
Until or unless La Russa returns, Cairo is tasked with handling the other dangling subject, which is the status of Tim Anderson. Anderson has been cleared for baseball activities, and he could return to the White Sox as soon as next week, although Hahn would not offer an exact timetable.
Cairo did make one thing clear, whenever Anderson is able to rejoin the fold:
“When Tim comes back, he’ll be put in shortstop,” acting manager Miguel Cairo said Tuesday. “That’s his position.”
That’s to be expected, even if I could summon the argument that Anderson could make the best use of his rehab time by playing second. The bigger question is whether Cairo will feel pressure to restore Anderson’s status at the top of the order. My guess is there’s a little more flexibility in that matter, both because of how well Elvis Andrus is faring in that spot, and that Anderson himself could use a little bit of a runway in getting back to turning around major league pitching.