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White Sox 2016 Predictions: Starting Rotation

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As the disappointing season for the Chicago White Sox winds down, let’s start looking toward next season, specifically, the pitching rotation. This is completely speculation at this point but I for one love speculation so let’s make some predictions about whom we can expect to see in the rotation come April 4th when the White Sox travel to the Oakland Athletics for their season opener.

First, and probably the most obvious prediction is ace Chris Sale. Currently owning a 12-8 record, Sale is a strong candidate for the American League Cy Young award and leads the American League with 247 strikeouts. He also sports an above average earned run average of 3.31. If he does win the Cy Young, it would be a nice bright spot in a season of lows.

My prediction for Sale next year is a record of 17-5 with an earned run average of around 2.60 and 300 strikeouts. It doesn’t appear as if Sale will hit the 300-K mark this year due to the White Sox now employing a modified six-man rotation featuring expanded roster call-up Erik Johnson. The one thing Sale must improve on to do that is performing against the AL Central. His division has given him quite a bit of trouble for most of this season.

With the inevitable departure of Jeff Samardzija, I think the White Sox will slot left-hander Jose Quintana back behind Sale as they have in years past. Quintana, aka “Mr. No Decision,” is having a solid year in his own right yet again with a 3.60 earned run average and an impressive 21 quality starts. Imagine if he actually got some run support behind him!

If he pitch all four scheduled starts and goes at least six innings in each, it will mark Quintana’s third straight season of at least 200 innings pitched. Quintana is one of the most underrated pitchers in the league and a dependable part of the rotation for next year and hopefully many more.

My prediction for Quintana next year is 10-9 with another impressive 200-inning season with an earned run average around his career mark of 3.50 with about 180 strikeouts. He has shown much better control this year and that has led to a decrease in walks and an increase in strikeouts. I expect him to continue to improve on that next season as well.

Behind the two left-handers I imagine a right-hander will be there and I really believe that will be Johnson. After getting called up at the beginning of last season to be a part of the rotation, Johnson struggled mightily with his control and was sent back down to the minors. He spent all of last season there and this season as well before being called up in September when the rosters expanded.

Johnson has had a very impressive year at Triple-A Charlotte posting an 11-8 record with a dazzling 2.37 earned run average in 132.2 innings. He was also named International League Pitcher of the Year.

I truly believe Johnson can be a solid mid-to-back end of the rotation guy. He is still only 25 years old and from what I saw on Sunday against the Kansas City Royals he was pumping in strikes and had a great breaking ball. The three blemishes were solo home runs but other than that I hope he’s regained his confidence because this rotation desperately needs an above average right-handed starter next season.

My prediction for Johnson next season is 10-7 with an earned run average of 3.90 and around 150-160 strikeouts.

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The fourth man in the 2016 rotation is young phenom Carlos Rodon. Rodon is on an impressive streak currently as The Catbird Seat noted on Twitter. He owns six straight starts of six innings or more with 41 total innings, 41 strikeouts, and an unhittable 1.76 earned run average over that stretch.

I’m not going to mince words here, Rodon is going to be a monster. Ever think of having two Sale’s? Well this rotation could feature that and then some. Rodon owns a grade 80 slider (80 being the highest grade you can receive for a pitch on the scouting scale) which he can already throw at three different speeds and an upper 90s fastball that he can strike hitters out with also. Once he truly gains his command, Rodon will be almost unstoppable and eventually slot in right behind Sale for a devastating 1-2 combination.

For next year, I believe they’ll limit Rodon somewhat in innings to probably around 170-180 as this season is the most he’s thrown since the 125 as a junior year at North Carolina State. As for other stats, I really hope he limits the walks to around 40-45 which would only be one per start if he starts 30 games, but otherwise I think he can reach 12 wins and strikeout at least one hitter for every inning pitched as he is averaging that already which would amount to about 180.

Time to predict who is the 5th man in this seemingly already solid White Sox rotation. Now you might be asking yourself, “What about Carson Fulmer? What about Frankie Montas? What about Danks?” Unfortunately I believe it will end up being the latter in John Danks.

He is still under contract for one more year and I doubt any other team needs an aged expensive left-hander that badly. So, I think the White Sox give Danks his going-out season to the tune of a 6-10 record with an earned run average of 4.80.

I really hope this is not the case and that the White Sox can find a way to move Danks out of the rotation or off the team in general because there’s no other way to put it at this point: he’s bad. His ERA hasn’t been under four in a season since 2011 and he really doesn’t even eat innings either so in my opinion he’s just kind of there as a placeholder.

There are my predictions. All in all it seems the White Sox will have another solid rotation on paper but it’s up to the players to perform and make it a reality. What are your thoughts on who might start next season? Leave me a comment.

Next: Don't believe the Trayce Thompson hype White Sox fans

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