Coming soon to Six Flags Great America, the newest and biggest roller coaster ride, the White Sox Starting Rotation!
Nearly every pitcher in the Sox rotation has experienced a wild variation of successes and failures with the exception of Carlos Rodon, who instead has been on more of a ski lift than a roller coaster.
Lucas Giolito started with strong inconsistencies, but has managed to put up strong performances over the last month or so. Reynaldo Lopez started on the other end of the spectrum, with strong performances over the first three months, but tapered off into an awful month of July.
Dylan Covey had a run of very impressive starts, and despite concrete consideration to be a part of the future rotation, he too eventually came crashing back down to Earth. Even James Shields has seen peaks and valleys this season, only his highs and lows change seemingly from week to week.
And as mentioned above, only Rodon has been great since the start of his season in early June. He came out a little sluggish, which is what most expected after almost nine months of not pitching at the Major League level. However, he has since shaken off the rust and had one of the best months of July in the American League.
The White Sox had a rough end of July in the two series against the Angels and Blue Jays. They came away with only three wins of seven games and were outscored 47-33.
Against Kansas City and Tampa Bay, the Sox flipped the switch and played some of their best baseball of 2018. They won four of six and even swept the lowly Rays. The visit to Tropicana included two stellar performances from Rodon and Giolito, while Lopez threw 7 strong innings against the Royals in previous series’ finale.
Now in August, it seemed that the rest of the rotation was ready to match Rodon’s excellent form. Then, the Yankees came to town and the anticipated inconsistency for the White Sox continued. It was more of the same but with the names and faces changed. It was a series to be forgotten due to how bad the White Sox lost to the Bronx Bombers.
Let’s start with the rotation’s wild card, Dylan Covey. The righty pitched six innings, which was his most since July 21st (before that was June 13th). Even so, he was charged with four earned runs and the eventual loss. The White Sox were blanked by C.C. Sabathia in a 7-0 outcome.
Next, a struggling Reynaldo Lopez actually tossed another great game following his brilliant start last week. He went 7 innings and only allowed one run. It’s the first time he had thrown consecutive quality starts since mid-June. Before his start against the Royals, he posted four straight losses with a 8.72 ERA.
Finally, it was Giolito’s turn to add another drop to his roller coaster of a season. In Tampa Bay last week, he threw seven innings and allowed one run on two measly hits, adding to an increasingly promising run of performances. In his previous five starts, he went 4-1 with an ERA of 3.19 and he also dropped his season ERA from 6.59 to 5.97.
Against the Yankees though, it was a different story. He went five innings, but had a second inning to forget. He gave up six runs in the second alone, including a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton. Aside from that, he only gave up one other run on two hits, but you can’t erase an inning as bad as the one he had.
What all of this spells for the rotation is that the main problem of inconsistency still remains. The White Sox have yet to see Giolito, Lopez and Covey (Giolito and Lopez mainly) really string a nice run of great performances together at the same time. The best run they had might have been last week versus the Royals and the Rays, but aside from that stretch, it’s always been a flip-flopping battle of one starter enjoying success while the other struggles.
Consistency is much easier said than achieved, but it is the main concern for this young rotation. The talent is there because they all have shown it. They just haven’t shown enough to ease the minds of skeptical fans. Lopez might have the confidence of most but Giolito’s continued up-and-down season makes it to the top of the list of rebuild concerns, at this time. The rebuild will look that much better when Lopez, Giolito, and Rodon are pitching great every five days instead of every few weeks. Give it time.