What was the secret to the Chicago White Sox success in 2021? A filthy pitching staff. The White Sox trotted out an arsenal of power arms with swing and miss stuff. There is a reason three of the White Sox four All-Stars were pitchers.
While the team struggled with injuries and the offense went through dry spells, the starting pitching carried them to their first divison title in 13 years.
Each pitcher had their own distinct style that made them fun to watch on a nightly basis. Lance Lynn attacked hitters with fastballs. He threw more fastballs than anybody in baseball. It didn’t matter who the hitter was as he was going to challenge them.
Lucas Giolito’s changeup has slowly emerged as one of the most devasting pitches in baseball. Giolito used it as his primary weapon last season. He even threw it up in the zone which is unusual but still yielded him results.
Dylan Cease has the nastiest stuff on the pitching staff. His slider had the highest spin rate in baseball and its horizontal break ranked in the top 28 percent in the league. He recorded 29 swinging strikes on May 27th which tied for the second-most in any game by a White Sox pitcher in the pitch-tracking era.
Carlos Rodon is likely on his way out the door but he managed to make his first All-Star team in 2021. On top of tossing the 20th no-hitter in White Sox history, he also passed Billy Pierce for the third-most career double-digit strikeout performances by a left-handed pitcher in franchise history.
Replacing Rodon in the rotation is Micheal Kopech who can light up a radar gun with ease. In his start against the Texas Rangers on April 25th, he struck out 10 batters in just four innings. No team in baseball history got more swinging strikes in any single regular season than the Chicago White Sox in 2021. The White Sox also led the MLB in pitchers with 100+ strikeouts.
The White Sox pitching staff was historically good during the 2021 season.
Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon, Lance Lynn, Micheal Kopech, and Liam Hendriks all racked up over 100 punchouts. What makes this list even more impressive is that Carlos Rodon and Micheal Kopech each missed a chunk of time due to injuries. This list does not include Craig Kimbrel who also finished his season with 100 strikeouts but only had 36 with the White Sox.
Even more impressive is that Liam Hendriks finished with 113 strikeouts which led all relievers. He even finished 97th overall in the MLB, which put him ahead of a good chunk of starting pitchers including Kyle Freeland, Johnny Cueto, Chris Paddack, and Jon Lester.
Over the past two seasons, Lucas Giolito ranked third amongst American League starters with 33.5% of all his pitches resulting in a swing and miss. Carlos Rodon was right behind him with a 32.9% whiff rate while Dylan Cease wasn’t far behind in sixth with a 32.3% mark. Cease also managed to finish seventh in the MLB in strikeouts with 226 punchouts to his name.
The pitching staff could still use some depth this offseason. But the collection of arms the White Sox have assembled is still one of the most fearsome in baseball.