3 – The Rotation is Solid, But Needs Work
After the big three, Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance Lynn, serious question marks lingered in the rotation and brought doubts of White Sox’s competitiveness for the World Series. Dylan Cease was assumed to get the fourth spot in the rotation but before his spring starts, that was unclear. Starting pitching was the primary concern of this American League juggernaut.
On Opening Night, Giolito pitched 5.1 innings, allowing two earned runs, a home run on two hits, and walks. He struck out eight and did overall a solid job. Not as dominant as usual but he did his job by keeping the team in the game. Defensive struggles would give the White Sox a loss but Giolito a no-decision.
In the second game, Keuchel struggled a bit. He allowed three earned runs off five hits and a couple of walks. More defense struggles were present and he allowed six runs overall (only three earned). For the first two innings, his command was strong and was classic Keuchel but he couldn’t pitch around the two errors as his command began to show signs of giving late in the fourth. Of course, this is not the Keuchel we have all come to know and love. He is a ground ball pitcher who aims for bat contact. He will struggle when he has a defensively weak infield.
On Saturday, Lynn made his White Sox debut. Going 4.2 innings, Lynn allowed two walks and six hits but struck out six. He would have gone longer in the game had it not been for the two errors that allowed the two unearned runs to score on Lynn’s watch. Number 33 looked strong on the bump. With a clean defense, he had the momentum to go 7 or 8 innings considering six of the 14 outs he recorded came via punch out.
Getting the prime-time starting nod, Dylan Cease did okay. It was not his best work but he certainly has done worse. Going 4.2 innings, Cease allowed five hits, one dinger, and three earned runs on three walks with only three strikeouts. With all the hype built up following his offseason with Ethan Katz, this first start was disappointing. However, all hope is not lost.
For about two innings, he was untouchable and that filthy pitcher he is projected to be. He wasn’t using his curveball. He just his fastball and slider. Cease is most effective when that hook is thrown into the mix, which explains his downward spiral late into his outing. The command was there for a bit but then he lost it. If he can figure out how to keep it, he is untouchable, filthy, and all the other worthy synonyms.
Finally, Carlos Rodon performed exactly the way every Sox fan had hoped. We saw 2015 Rodon last night and maybe we will see a better version of him in 2021. Going five innings, Rodon allowed only two hits and struck out nine.
His fastball command was on point all night, but his offspeed suffered. The fastball proved to be enough in the five scoreless innings of work. With the back-end of the rotation being the team’s most significant question mark before the season started, Rodon was brought back to hold it down. After one start, he has shown he is still capable.