PEORIA, Ariz. – A starting rotation of Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Mike Clevinger and Michael Kopech – when healthy – should be enough.
The depth behind those five for the playoff-seeking 2023 White Sox might be another story, and it will inevitably be tapped into as it always is. Injuries, soreness and doubleheaders are part of the deal of a 162-game season.
Don’t the White Sox, decimated by injuries last season, know it.
Sox manager Pedro Grifol opened his palms and raised both hands at his sides when asked about his rotation’s depth Saturday.
“Who’s got seven, eight starters out there that they can say ‘OK, we’re good’? Grifol said. “That’s tough. We certainly have guys we feel are developing into becoming those types of guys.
“Depth is hard to have in this game.”
Ask the other 29 teams about rotation depth, Grifol said, and few would tout their own.
“Teams don’t feel they have depth in the five, let alone having six, seven or eight,” Grifol said.
In Cease, the Sox have the American League Cy Young Award runner-up. In Lynn, a two-time All-Star who finished in top six Cy Young voting three straight years before a knee injury scuttled the first part of his season in 2022. In Giolito, a top-11 in Cy Young voting three straight three seasons before he struggled with a 4.90 ERA in 2022. Clevinger is 51-30 with a 3.39 ERA over seven seasons with Cleveland and San Diego. And Kopech, with a 3.54 ERA in 22 starts while dealing with knee and shoulder issues last season, more than fills the bill as a fifth starter if healthy.
“All five guys are legitimate major league starters that can do a lot of good things and have done good things in the game,” Grifol said. “And they’re more than capable of going deep in games. Our rotation is a strength of ours.”
After Clevinger was signed as a free agent to replace Johnny Cueto in the rotation, general manager Rick Hahn’s shopping for starting pitching came to a halt when another addition might would have served him Sox. And so it’s Davis Martin, who was 3-6 with a 4.63 ERA in 2022; the organization’s top right-handed pitching prospect, Sean Burke; and Jesse Scholtens, who posted a 4.10 ERA in 37 games (15 starts) for the Padres’ Triple-A El Paso affiliate and started two Cactus League games and one against Team Colombia this spring. Scholtens allowed six runs in eight innings, leading a cast of hopefuls for depth.
Martin wasn’t even in major league camp last year but he rapidly climbed to sixth starter.
“I don’t think anybody had Davis Martin penciled in for nine or 10 starts,” Martin said.
“Crazy. It was a whirlwind. You’re at AA the first four weeks and making it to Charlotte was kind of our goal. Finally get to Charlotte and two weeks you’re making your MLB debut. It all happened so fast. It was a blast. Me and my wife played the ‘where are we sleeping tonight?’ game. But all in all it was a dream.”
If the Sox are dreaming of big things in 2023, another unexpected contribution in the Davis Martin ilk would help.
“We certainly have guys we feel are developing into becoming those types of guys,” Grifol said.