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Chicago White Sox: Penny, Carroll lead battle rotation spot

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The Chicago White Sox have been battling back and forth with the idea of allowing Carlos Rodon to break camp on the major league roster whether it be in the starting rotation or bullpen. The recent injury to Chris Sale has only put more pressure on the team to do so.

The most obvious reason as to why he wouldn’t start the season in the majors is to delay his service time and earn the team an extra year of control. But in his two spring outings, he has made the decision much easier on the White Sox.

Rodon has a 6.14 ERA in 7.2 innings. It gives the team a more passable explanation to give the fan base for starting him in Triple-A with the Charlotte Knights.

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If Rodon is out to take Sale’s spot, that leaves Brad Penny and Scott Carroll as the most logical options.

Penny, will be 37 in a week and is a long way from the pitcher he once was. After taking all of 2013 off, he made just eight appearances in last season with the Miami Marlins. He finished 2-1 with a 6.58 ERA in 26 innings (four starts). His last successful run in the majors came in 2011 with the Detroit Tigers. Though he finished with 5.30 ERA, he went 11-11 and made 31 starts.

This spring, Penny has pitched in three games and made one start. He has a respectable 3.52 ERA, but opponents are hitting .355 against him.

Aug 23, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Scott Carroll (67) delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees in the third inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Carroll is looking for a second chance with the White Sox. After eight seasons in the minors, he made his major league debut with the team at 29-years old in 2014 and put together a few good stretches. For the season however, he had a record of 5-10 with a 4.80 ERA and 19 starts in 26 appearances.

This spring, he has been solid in his two outings. In 4.2 innings of work, Carroll has a 1.93 ERA and opponents have hit just .176 against him.

Another possibility to consider is that whichever man opens on the major league roster might go to the bullpen when Sale returns. However, carrying eight pitchers seems a bit more likely with the fill-in starter being optioned to the minors instead of the pen.

The White Sox roster is stacked right now with right-handed relievers. Assuming the team carries two lefties, it leaves six spots for at least nine pitchers.

Right away pencil in David Robertson, Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam for three. That leaves Penny and Carroll competing with Matt Albers, Maikel Cleto, Daniel Webb and Javy Guerra, not to mention Jesse Crain and Nate Jones waiting in the wings later in the season.

Penny has pitched 30 games as a reliever in his career and has been roughed up quite a bit.

Opponents have a slash line of .374/.428/585, and Penny has an ERA of 7.82 in that span, as the veteran right-hander has made it known he prefers to start.

Carroll on the other hand posted far better numbers in relief than as a starter. In 22.1 innings last season, Carroll’s slash line was .208/.311/.325 with a 1.99 ERA.

When compared to all those other arms, both men are on the outside looking in.

When adding in all the variables, the numbers say Carroll deserves the spot. The White Sox actions say otherwise. Only Jose Quintana has thrown more innings thus far in spring training than Penny, while Carroll has just one less appearance, he has not been allowed to start a game.

Those two facts tell me the White Sox view Penny as the guy.

Next: AL Central: Who is king of the pen?

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