News of the Chicago White Sox signing Michael Clevinger into the fold is intriguing. However, the starting rotation would still be without one key piece: a left-handed pitcher.
There is no rule in baseball that says a team needs to have both righties and lefties in its starting rotation. But to balance things off and put the opposition in a possible disadvantage lineup wise, it would help to have different arms to throw at a team.
Adding Clevinger sets the White Sox up with a rotation of Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Clevinger, and Michael Kopech. The addition of Johnny Cueto last year proved to be successful but it seems as though it might be a long shot for him to return.
Even if Cueto was to come back, the starting staff would be comprised of all right-handed pitchers. Teams would load up with left-handed bats to counter the starters.
The Chicago White Sox could really use a left handed starting pitcher.
Each of the 2022 playoff teams featured at least one lefty in its rotation. The ability to go to a lefty puts the opposition in a position of having to find the best matchup it can, which might mean moving different players into the lineup.
There is an actual math component behind the advantage of having a lefty as a starter or reliever, for that matter.
In a piece written for MLB.com in 2019, David Adler mentioned two reasons why a left-hander is a valuable commodity: there are not as many lefties as there are righties pitching in baseball, and hitters from both sides of the plate are more familiar hitting right-handers since those were the majority of pitchers they faced throughout their years of playing.
There are several free-agent lefties who would be solid additions to the White Sox rotation starting with former Southsider Carlos Rodon.
After posting a magnificent 2021, Rodon left the White Sox and signed with the San Franciso Giants where he didn't skip a beat and finished sixth in Cy Young balloting.
As a result of his recent performances, Rodon is expected to land a large payday which will probably be too rich for the White Sox.
Sean Manea was on the White Sox radar to start the 2022 season but they failed to pull the trigger on a deal and lost out on his services to the San Diego Padres.
Manea made $9.75 million last year and finished the season with an 8-9 record and a 4.86 earned run average. He struck out 156 in 158 innings of work and might be worth a return look by the White Sox.
Aside from Rodon and Manea, other pitchers who could be in consideration from the left side include former White Sox starter Jose Quintana, Rich Hill, and Drew Smyly.
Although the drop-off from Rodon and Manea would be significant, each could provide a little change of pace to the starting staff and come with a smaller price tag.
This is not to say pursuing a southpaw should take precedence over signing a talent like Clevinger. If the White Sox can land him that would be a solid addition. Nonetheless, getting a quality lefty to put in the mix would also be a plus.