With the addition of Mat Latos, the White Sox now have a good amount of depth in the starting rotation. While I realize that there are some question marks at the back end of the rotation, I believe that Latos should solidify considerably if he can even come close to his pre-injury form.
The issue now becomes who, outside of the big three and Latos, will be in the White Sox rotation? I would go with John Danks for one reason and one reason only, money. Since Danks is making eight figures, while the Erik Johnson/Jacob Turner options are making hardly anything, it would make sense to go with Danks. I understand that fans want to win, and so do I. However, baseball is a business, and money talks. Unless Danks struggles early and often, it does not seem like a realistic possibility that the White Sox move him to the bullpen, or down to Triple-A Charlotte.
Danks is not much more than a number five starter at this point of his career, and has been that way since the injury a few years back. But since he is under contract, and no one else wants him, the Sox might as well pitch him, even if that means not giving potentially better pitchers such as Erik Johnson or Jacob Turner the spot in the rotation. Johnson has a chance to be much better this upcoming season after showing glimpses of effectiveness at the major league level late in 2015, and Turner could be better as well in 2016. But let’s face it Sox fans, we will have John Danks in the rotation for one more season, barring injury or total failure by Danks or the team as a whole.
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A potential option for the Sox is to put Turner or Johnson in the bullpen as the team’s long reliever/spot starter. Since Turner would have to clear waivers if the Sox sent him to triple-A, he could be an option to assume that role and eat innings if a starter had to exit early in a game. Erik Johnson could be used in this role as well, but I think it makes more sense for him to be starting at Charlotte if he isn’t going to be in the Sox rotation. That also might end up being best for his development long term, since he is a projected starter in the future.
Looking at the Sox rotation, they have some options if Danks is so awful they have to remove him from the rotation at some point during 2016. I don’t think this is the most likely scenario, at least right off the bat. However, it wouldn’t shock me to see both Johnson and Turner make starts in 2016 due to injuries. One name to keep an eye on this year (outside of the potential emergence of Carson Fulmer of course) for the White Sox is Chris Beck, and while he is a bit buried on the depth chart as of right now he might get a spot start or two in a double-header type situation this spring training. With Carson Fulmer on the way, and some pretty nice depth at the back-end the future is bright for the Sox rotation, hopefully the sun will start to shine in 2016.