Heading into the 2021 season, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the Chicago White Sox hiring Lucas Giolito’s former high school coach Ethan Katz. Katz played a pivotal part in transforming Giolito from the worst pitcher in baseball in 2018 to a dominant top-of-the-rotation arm in 2019.
His arrival in Chicago was highly anticipated and many believed he would help the White Sox pitching staff excel. Katz was a magnificent addition and made an immediate impact on some of the pitchers in the organization.
His addition to the White Sox coaching staff helped the team form an incredible starting rotation. They were one of the best in all of baseball. Other than Giolito, he helped transform Dylan Cease into a dominant and formidable pitcher in the American League as he finished third in the AL with 226 strikeouts.
Katz also helped Carlos Rodón turn into the pitcher he has always thought he could be. The left-hander was dominant in 2021, totaling 13 wins, 185 strikeouts, and finishing the season with a 2.37 ERA.
Lance Lynn went from the third pitcher in the rotation behind Giolito and Dallas Keuchel to one of the best pitchers in baseball under Katz, solidifying his status as a legitimate ace. He totaled 11 wins, 176 strikeouts, and a career-low in ERA at 2.69.
The Chicago White Sox had a very good pitching staff in 2021 under Ethan Katz.
Out of the 23 pitchers the White Sox used at some point this season, 13 of them finished with sub-four ERAs while the other 10 finished with ERAs above 4.50. Most of the pitchers who struggled were younger pitchers in the organization such as Matt Foster and Codi Heuer.
One of the most surprising players that did not perform well under Katz was Keuchel. He finished the season with an ERA of 5.28, just a year removed from the 2020 shortened season where he finished with a 1.99 ERA.
Craig Kimbrel was another player that failed to perform under Katz. The future Hall of Famer struggled immensely upon his arrival in the Southside. He had a microscopic 0.49 ERA when he was with the Chicago Cubs. That ballooned up to 5.09 once Kimbrel came to the White Sox. He struggled mightily in his transition from the closer to the set-up man and may find himself on a new team this offseason.
Katz may not be to blame for the two struggling mightily. Keuchel isn’t a power arm like others in the White Sox staff and struggled with command of his best pitches. Kimbrel may not have overcome the mental hurdle of not being the closer, which played a pivotal part in his inability to adapt to the role.
Overall, based on the incredible success we saw from the rest of the White Sox pitching corps, Ethan Katz deserves an A- for his performance during the 2021 season. He helped transform this pitching staff and with his first season as an MLB pitching coach behind him, expect him to improve his coaching strategies to help strengthen this staff’s deficiencies heading into 2022.
Katz spent a lot of time with his players during the 2020 offseason and you can expect the same in the 2021 offseason as the White Sox prep their team to compete for a World Series in 2022. Ethan Katz was the right man for the job after the 2020 offseason and continues to be after showing strides of excellence in 2021. He is an incredible baseball mind and he will continue to show why in 2022.