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While it’s natural to compare a current White Sox postseason team to other ones we’ve watched, there isn’t a whole lot of use in doing so. The White Sox have averaged about one October a decade over Jerry Reinsdorf’s tenure as owner, and baseball has undergone pretty dramatic shifts in run-scoring environments and conventional wisdoms over that time.
That said, between an offense that can run hot and cold and a rotation featuring three starters who just came off the injured list, are on the injured list, or look destined for the injured list, it’s hard not to think of 2000, at least a little.
You shouldn’t think about it too much. The injuries are less severe than a broken elbow (Cal Eldred) or damaged labrums (Mike Sirotka, Jim Parque). The IL stints may even be precautionary in nature. Carlos Rodón went on the injured list with shoulder fatigue, while Lance Lynn‘s knee has been barking, but the former missed less than three weeks, and the latter’s stay is expected to be minimal as well.
The strained hamstring Lucas Giolito suffered on Tuesday night is a different sort of deal. There was a specific event that caused it, and Giolito proved unable to pitch through it. He tried shaking a leg, he tried walking it off, and while he wouldn’t ask for a trainer, everybody else knew he couldn’t continue.
“The sensation I felt on the pitch wasn’t as intense and painful as in 2019,” Giolito said. “So that kind of gives me some confidence that hopefully it won’t be very serious and I’ll come back pretty soon … It came out of nowhere. I’ve been feeling really good, strong. Legs, arm, everything’s been feeling good. So, it’s unfortunate.”
… and that’d be a terrific outcome if Giolito were correct. That 2019 hamstring injury interrupted Giolito’s first attempt at turning around his career, but only for a few weeks. He had to depart a start against the Royals on April 17 after 2⅔ no-hit innings that only lowered his ERA to 5.30. He returned about 2½ weeks later for five so-so innings against the Red Sox on May 2. His next time out, he shut down Cleveland for 7⅓ innings, and the Giolito renaissance was truly underway.
However, seeing Giolito’s exhibition of denial on the mound, I’m not inclined to take his explanation at face value. That doesn’t mean he’s lying to himself, but we’re probably going to need an outside opinion in case he still has the other four stages of DABDA to go.
Before Giolito’s injury, the White Sox had a way to manage the rotation around Lynn’s absence thanks to off days Thursday and Monday. La Russa outlined Dallas Keuchel on Friday, Reynaldo López on Saturday, and then probably Dylan Cease on six days’ rest for Sunday. Carlos Rodón could then come back on extra rest for the following Tuesday, and that’s when Lynn is eligible to return.
If Lynn has to be out for longer and Giolito needs his own legit stint on the injured list, it gets a little hairier, with the White Sox either resorting to bullpen days or borrowed arms like Jimmy Lambert. It’s doable, even if it isn’t likely to be the most watchable, but it’d really behoove the White Sox to stop shedding starters. Regardless of how much the game has changed, having pitchers get hurt late in the year just doesn’t seem like a winning strategy.
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Giolito’s injury doesn’t just open up another roster spot as the White Sox prepare for September call-ups. Given that he’s a starter who wouldn’t be pitching for another six days or so, Rick Hahn has even more flexibility with how he patches the roster around the rehab stints that already had to be taken into account.
Before Tuesday’s game, Tony La Russa said that Billy Hamilton would be rejoining the team, while Adam Engel would be starting a rehab stint. This morning, Robert Murray dropped a name that wasn’t on my initial board, just because he wasn’t on the 40-man roster.
It’s cool news, although slightly awkward timing. Under normal circumstances, Gonzalez wouldn’t be eligible for the postseason roster because he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster by 11:59 p.m. ET on Aug. 31. That said, Major League Baseball’s roster rules suggest it’s not an open-and-shut case should Gonzalez set the league ablaze.
A player who doesn’t meet said criteria for postseason eligibility can still be added to a team’s roster in the postseason via petition to the Commissioner’s Office if the player was in the organization on Aug. 31 and is replacing someone who is on the injured list and has served the minimum amount of time required for activation. (For example, a player on the 10-day injured list who has been on it for at least 10 days, or a player who has been on the 60-day injured list for at least 60 days.) Players who are acquired in September or after are ineligible.
Stay tuned for a post about the White Sox’s roster additions once they’re complete and official.
(Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)