Who is the White Sox Opening Day Starter?
With Opening Day under a month away, teams will now take their turns naming their opening day starters. For some teams, this is obvious – think Chris Sale in Boston, Jon Lester on the North Side of Chicago, etc. But for teams like the White Sox, there is no obvious ace to hand the ball to as their starter on Opening Day. And, in true 2018-19 offseason, the Sox are taking their sweet time before doing anything definitive and naming the Opening Day starter.
So, like I wish could’ve happened during free agency, I’ll be doing the White Sox job for them. Who gets the ball on March 28th in Kansas City? Let’s start by taking a look at the candidates:
Thought to be a centerpiece of the rebuild when Adam Eaton was traded to Washington, Lucas Giolito is someone who should be in position to be the Opening Day starter. However, this is not the case. After posting a 10-13 record to go along with a 6.13 ERA and a cool -1.5 bWAR in 2018, Giolito has bigger things to worrying about than Opening Day. Hell, the only guy who walked more people than Giolito in 2018 was Tyler Chatwood.
Woof. Let’s get production up to a 3 starter and then we’ll talk about being the Opening Day starter next year, Lucas.
Ivan Nova presents an interesting possibility for Opening Day starter. Is he dominant? No, of course not, although that 4.19 ERA and non-negative WAR in 2018 certainly garners consideration given the choices the Sox have. What Nova does have is the savvy veteran presence on this roster. Entering his age 32 season, Nova getting the ball in KC would be similar to Big Game Jimmy Shields starting in the same ballpark last season to start the year.
Maybe the result would be similar to last year’s dominant win, but I’m not banking on it. Nova should slide in somewhere from 3-4 in this rotation.
Now we’re talking. Rodon is arguably the best pitcher on the staff currently, with Michael Kopech out for the season. Rodon also has the benefit of putting up solid numbers last season, going 6-8 with a 4.18 ERA and 2.0 bWAR in 20 starts. While there might be some questions about his peripherals, injury history, and his ability to pitch deep into games due to high pitch counts, given the rest of the options Rodon would be a solid choice for Opening Day Starter.
With this being his age 26 season, it’s getting to that point where Carlos needs to start taking strides to be the ace of this staff or risk being jettisoned for prospects or not re-signed when he hits free agency. That being said, I’m hoping he rises to the occasion this season and starts showing those strides that players on this roster need to start taking. I believe in Rodon as a middle of the rotation member of this staff moving forward, but he’s not my choice for Opening Day starter this year.
No. Just God, no.
That’s more like it. If I’m Rick Renteria, I’m giving the ball to Reynaldo Lopez on 3/28 at Kauffman Stadium. He’s my Opening Day Starter, no doubt about it. Last year was a breakout year for Lopez, pitching to a 3.91 ERA and 3.1 bWAR to go along with 151 K’s in his age 24 season, his first full season as a big league starter. At age 25, Lopez has the perfect combination of youth and production to deserve this honor. While he may not be a Mark Buehrle, Chris Sale, or Sox version of Jose Quintana, Lopez represents the perfect symbol for the Sox to start the 2019 season. A key piece of the rebuild acquired in the Eaton trade, Lopez has actually showed some level of production thus far.
Beyond the numbers, Lopez just has an electricity and fire to him. Exhibit A from this past season:
As far as I’m concerned, there should be no question Reynaldo is taking the hill as the Opening Day starter for the 2019 White Sox. That is, unless Kenny and Rick pull a fast one on us out of the Bryce/Manny smoke screen…
Your move, Rick.