Rick Renteria surprised a bit when he revealed Manny Banuelos' status as day-to-day Thursday. Plenty, this writer included, were prepared for Banuelos to be the latest White Sox starting pitcher sent to the injured list after he exited Tuesday's game with a shoulder strain. But no roster moves came Thursday, a day after Banuelos was reevaluated, and the South Side skipper said it's possible Banuelos will make his next scheduled start Monday in the first of four games against the Houston Astros in the Lone Star State.
"Manny is continuing to improve," Renteria said before Thursday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. "Right now he's day-to-day. We'll see how he feels tomorrow, and we'll continue to move forward until we know otherwise.
"They actually did an MRI, it was clean. So there's nothing for us to worry about right now from that perspective."
Of course, nowhere in there did Renteria say Banuelos won't be going on the injured list. But the fact that he wasn't sent there ahead of this series against Toronto in favor of an extra bullpen arm speaks to the possibility that Banuelos' injury isn't quite as severe as first assumed.
If Banuelos can avoid missing any time, that'd be fantastic news for a White Sox team that doesn't really have anywhere to turn for starting-pitching depth. General manager Rick Hahn has said that highly touted pitching prospect Dylan Cease won't come up from Triple-A Charlotte because of a need at the big league level. The rest of the Charlotte rotation is either hurt or putting up ugly numbers or both.
The exception there is Ross Detwiler, the 10-year major league veteran recently signed out of independent ball. He made his first start for the Knights on Tuesday night and pitched well, allowing one run and striking out 10 batters in six innings. With no other internal options, Detwiler looks like a top candidate to be the next man up should the White Sox need to plug a hole in a rotation that has already lost Carlos Rodon to season-ending Tommy John surgery and saw cut Ervin Santana loose after just three starts.
But maybe Banuelos will be healthy enough to help the White Sox dodge that bullet for now. Nothing will be certain until he steps on the mound in the bottom of the first inning Monday in Houston. But for now, per the manager, it's possible things might not be as bad as they might have initially appeared.
Of course, White Sox fans have not been happy with the healthy version of Banuelos so far. In his five starts this season, Banuelos has given up 21 runs, 32 hits, nine home runs and 12 walks in 20.2 innings. That's an ugly ERA of 9.15. And so many fans might be OK with Banuelos skipping a turn in the rotation or two.
But the depth-starved White Sox need someone to go out there and eat up innings. And the options past Banuelos aren't terribly attractive.