There are a number of questions surrounding the Chicago White Sox as they head into the 2023 season and the starting rotation while promising, is not without its share of issues.
The starting rotation of Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and Johnny Cueto combined for a respectable 3.60 earned run average but injuries plagued the staff like they did the rest of the team.
Cueto came aboard midseason as Kopech and Lynn were nicked up and able to record only 25 and 21 starts respectively.
However, despite pitching brilliantly, Cueto was not brought back and was replaced by Mike Clevinger on a one-year deal.
The Chicago White Sox should have a solid rotation again in 2023.
Clevinger, who figures to be a back end of the rotation pitcher, returned to action last year after having Tommy John surgery in 2021. Clevinger went 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA while posting career worsts in strikeouts per nine innings (7.2) and home runs per nine innings (1.6).
After returning from a knee injury in June, Lynn started off slowly posting ERAs over 6 each month through July. He found his form in August and September when his ERA was 2.52 over his last 85.2 innings.
Cease looked every bit the ace of the staff as he had a breakout year that included a second-place finish in American League Cy Young voting, highlighted by a 14-game stretch in which he posted an outstanding 0.66 earned run average.
He finished the year with a career-low 2.20 ERA while posting career highs in innings pitched (184) and strikeouts (227).
Despite his dominance, Cease was also prone to not being able to find the strike zone. He led all major league pitchers with 78 walks.
The two wildcards in the rotation are Giolito and Kopech. Giolito was dominant back in 2021 but had his problems last season when he posted ERAs over five each month from June through August before finishing with an overall mark of 4.90. Hitters put up a .272 average on him for the year.
Kopech finished his first year as a starter with a 5-9 mark after throwing 119.1 innings despite shoulder and knee issues. He is down in Texas rehabbing his knee. If he can steer clear of injuries he will be a key component to the success of the rotation.
During the year, the starting pitching was pretty productive. The rotation was tied for seventh in the majors in Wins Lost (16) which is a stat in which the pitcher was in line for a win when he faced his final hitter before the bullpen lost the game.
The rotation was tied for 11th in the majors at 52 wins in games started but was also tied for ninth in losses with 59.
White Sox starters were tied for 11th in Quality Starts and were tied for third overall in tough losses. The rotation was 10th in the majors in Quality Start percentage at 41 percent and was above the league average in Innings Pitched Per Game Started at 5.3. The pitchers threw 89 pitches on average per start.
The starting pitching can be a strong suit of the team provided each starter remains healthy. The potential of the staff has Clevinger very excited.