The Chicago White Sox Make An Interesting Choice To Be The Opening Day Starter

Garrett Crochet was named the Opening Day starter after Dylan Cease was traded.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago White Sox needed a new Opening Day starting pitcher after Dylan Cease was traded to the San Diego Padres.

The team made an interesting choice as Garrett Crochet was named the starting pitcher on March 28th when the Sox begin the 2024 season at Guaranteed Rate Field against the Detroit Tigers.

It is a surprise decision as Crochet just recently moved to the starting rotation during the offseason. The 72 games and 73 career innings he has pitched have all come from out of the bullpen.

The last time he started a game was in college. This will be a historic outing for Crochet as he will be the first Sox Opening Day starter in over 123 years to make his first career start on one of baseball's most anticipated days.

Technically he will be the first Sox starter ever to make his first professional career start on Opening Day as Patterson made some starts in 1900 when the American League was considered to be an inferior league.

It is also an interesting choice to go with Crochet as the Opening Day starter as there was still talk of the lefty going down to Triple-A Charlotte or even Double-A Birmingham to get stretched out along with some experience as a starter.

A strong spring training means he will take the ball when every team starts 0-0 and has championship aspirations.

Crochet has not given up a run in four spring training outs (only one of those were starts), allowed just seven hits, and has struck out 12. Striking out batters has never been a problem for Garrett as he has 85 strikeouts in his short three-year career.

It has been a short career despite already being in the majors since he was drafted in 2020. He pretty much went straight from being drafted out of Tennessee to the White Sox bullpen during the pandemic-shortened season.

He was filthy on the mound in 2021 when he struck out 65 hitters in 54 innings. Crochet teamed up with Michael Kopech to be flamethrowers out of the pen during the AL Central championship season. Then Crochet needed Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2022.

He only pitched 37 innings last year between the majors and the minors as he made his way back. Now he will be getting the honor of starting Opening Day.

With only the nine spring training innings under his belt and the limited innings he has thrown in his career, the worry is he only be able to throw a maximum of four innings to start the season. That might not be the best way to ease the bullpen into the season.

Then again, the starting rotation does not have any other great options.

Erick Fedde was rumored to be getting the Opening Day nod. He did win the equivalent of the Cy Young over in South Korea. He was in the KBO in the first place because he was so awful in his first go-around in the major leagues.

Michael Soroka was dominant in 2019 but injuries wiped out his 2021, 2022, and most of his 2023 season. Chris Flexen pitched well in 2021 and 2022, but he was bad during his brief three-year stint with the New York Mets before that. He was terrible last year for the Seattle Mariners. Michael Kopech has been permanently sent to the bullpen never to return to the starting rotation ever again.

Rookie Nick Nastrini was probably the only other option the Sox had as he is having a strong spring. Drew Thorpe, the top prospect the Sox got back in the Cease deal, was pitching well for the Padres. He just got roughed up in his first spring training start for the Sox.

The hope is Crochet, Nastrini, Thorpe, and eventually, prospects Jake Eder along with Noah Schultz can form a young, dominant starting rotation. Since this is a lost season anyway, it cannot hurt to see what Crochet can do as a starter right away.