No products in the cart.
Before Michael Kopech’s right knee popped on him Sunday afternoon, the White Sox had an encouraging list of scheduled starters.
Monday: Johnny Cueto on normal rest.
Tuesday: Lance Lynn off the injured list with an extra day of rest off his last rehab start.
Wednesday: Dylan Cease on extra rest, which seemed smart after topping 100 pitches without finishing five innings in each of his last two starts.
Then an off day would arrive on Thursday, giving Tony La Russa a chance to realign his rotation now that all hands are on deck.
Instead, Kopech’s injury forced Cueto to jump out of the sauna and into the fire, which he did commendably despite zero preparation.
Cueto volunteered his services to pitching coach Ethan Katz and manager Tony La Russa after starter Michael Kopech left three batters into the game due to right knee discomfort. Cueto, who has a meticulous training schedule, threw a 45-pitch bullpen on Saturday and didn’t even stretch before Sunday’s unscheduled trip to the mound. […]
“It’s definitely different. I wasn’t ready to pitch today. I was ready to pitch tomorrow,” Cueto said through interpreter Billy Russo. “Today, I was just doing my things in the pool, the sauna. Just getting ready for tomorrow. And then this happened. You just have to go there and do your best.”
But Cueto wasn’t the only one affected. Cease was seen warming in the bullpen late on Sunday’s game because his side day moved up a day, while Lynn is starting tonight in Detroit.
With a knee surgery late in spring training, Lynn was the original Just-Wait-Until-He-Comes-Back Guy, but whether viewed at the individual or team level, this wasn’t the return anybody envisioned. The White Sox are languishing in third place in the AL Central at 27-31, yet it’s not because of starting pitching. They’ve suffered a couple of acute episodes in that department, as Cease blew a 4-0 lead, and Lucas Giolito squandered a five-run cushion over the past week, but the emergence of Cueto lowered the threat level considerably.
Instead, Lynn has been replaced by Eloy Jiménez and Tim Anderson as the new Guys Who Will Make The Roster Complete When Healthy, and Jiménez just had his rehab stint rebooted. The severity of the recent leg injuries for Kopech and Yasmani Grandal have yet to be determined. Aaron Bummer’s unavailability turned into an IL stint, and everybody’s left to hope that Liam Hendriks doesn’t follow the same path.
All of this considerably mutes the excitement surrounding Lynn’s return. What the White Sox need is a player or two who can take some of the pressure off single-game decisions, at least for two games in a row. Sure, La Russa should be fired because never should’ve been here, nobody likes him, he adds nothing and his mere presence represents everything wrong with the way the White Sox conduct business, but most managers would look 77 if three out of four games hinged on ideal batting orders, expedient hooks for starting pitchers and deploying all high-leverage bench and bullpen options at the right time.
Lynn doesn’t really help in that regard, at least not yet. He needs to be gradually reintroduced into the rotation, yet his start arrives when La Russa is looking to spare his bullpen an inning any way he can. He’s also coming back from a knee injury, and with Anderson, Jiménez, Grandal and maybe even Yoán Moncada providing fresh of examples of how the White Sox have struggled to put lower-body injuries behind them, the sight of Lynn won’t provide any sense of finality.
I’m bracing for three or four laborious innings tonight, but Lynn is accomplished enough that he could easily follow the path Cueto cleared earlier this year, using Triple-A games strictly for getting work in, then transcending those mediocre results once he’s back on a big-league mound.
He just doesn’t solve the other problems that have made White Sox games such a drag. For everything Cueto has delivered, he’s 0-3 because the White Sox have scored a total of 13 runs over his five starts, and all he has to show for his heroic five innings of relief is a rare third-inning blown save.