White Sox veteran pitchers succeeding early into season. Will each pitcher be able to sustain success for remainder of 2017 campaign?
The Chicago White Sox sit in second place in the American League Central in the last week of April. Although this has been considered as rebuilding season for the Sox, the team has had success with its starting pitching early in the season.
Miguel Gonzalez and Derek Holland have had solid starts to their 2017 campaigns for the Sox. Both pitchers entered the season without high expectations, but they’re already succeeding to begin the season.
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While Holland and Gonzalez are having early success, many Sox fans might be cautious in believing both pitchers can continue to perform well throughout the season. Last season, Mat Latos got of to a 5-0 start before eventually being designated for assignment in June. Sox fans could be led to believe Gonzalez or Holland would regress in somewhat similar fashion.
However, Latos early success last season masked the fact he wasn’t going deep into games. The most innings Latos pitched during his success early last season was 6.1 innings in his third start. Latos was also getting hit hard as hitters started to hit more line drives off the starting pitcher. In Latos final eight starts with the Sox in 2015, hitters hit more than five line drives in six of those starts. This wasn’t helped by Latos giving up seven home runs and 30 earned runs in his final eight starts.
Latos decline began in his fourth start, but Gonzalez and Holland appear to be getting better with each outing this season. Gonzalez had another spectacular outing in his fourth start of 2017 on Monday against the Kansas City Royals. The 32-year-old veteran pitcher lasted eight innings giving up just one run (unearned) and recording five strikeouts.
Gonzalez was hit hard in his second start of the season against the Indians as he pitched 4.2 innings and gave up three earned runs. Those were the most earned runs he’s given up so far this season. Gonzalez is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA but even more impressive is his FIP which is just 3.29. The native Mexican career low in FIP is 3.71 which he posted in 2016.
The Sox could certainly use more quality starts from Gonzalez this season, especially with a thin pitching rotation missing James Shields and Carlos Rodon to injuries. Gonzalez’s previous start before Monday was just as good. The right hander pitched a season high 8.1 innings against the New York Yankees and gave up one earned run while recording four strikeouts. While Gonzalez isn’t going to overpower hitters, his effectiveness to induce groundballs and limit hard-hit line drives has been helpful for the Sox so far.
Holland, who was signed to a one-year contract this past offseason has also enjoyed some early season success. The left-handed starter is 2-2 with a 1.99 ERA. However, Holland hasn’t pitched more than six innings in a single contest this season. Holland had a solid outing in his last start against the Indians on Sunday as he pitched six innings giving up one earned run and recording six strikeouts. The 30-year-old pitcher hasn’t had the same success in avoiding getting hit hard like Gonzalez has, but he’s kept the ball in the ballpark. Holland has given up three home runs in his last two games however.
The Sox should be thankful Holland is healthy to begin the season, but his success might not continue for long. Holland’s regression might not be as bad as Latos from 2016, but his 4.42 FIP doesn’t look encouraging for long term success this season. Holland was 7-9 with a 4.95 ERA and a 4.75 FIP for the Rangers last season in 20 starts.
If Holland is unable to maintain his early success throughout the season, the Sox could be in serious trouble. Holland’s inability to pitch deep into games thus far could become an issue as the season progresses. The Sox won’t be contending so Holland’s potential mediocrity won’t hurt their long-term future. However, more success from Holland could equal a solid return in a trade for the veteran pitcher by the trading deadline.
The Sox will need more good outings from both Holland and Gonzalez moving forward. Neither pitcher appears to be headed towards the same fate of Latos from 2016, but anything’s possible. If Gonzalez and Holland can maintain their early success throughout this season, the Sox will certainly benefit with a more stable pitching rotation.