With Carlos Rodón on the injured list, the White Sox are going to need a sub in the starting rotation.
It seemed the most logical option was Ross Detwiler, who's off to a terrific start out of the South Side bullpen. He's allowed just two hits and walked none of the 26 batters he faced, recording seven strikeouts in 8.1 innings over five relief appearances. Given his starting experience - he's made 95 major league starts, including 12 with the White Sox last season - he appeared to be the perfect candidate to fill in for Rodon.
Well, it might be a bit more complicated than that. See, Detwiler has been so good out of the 'pen, that the White Sox might not want to mess with success.
"He's been doing a great job in the role he's in. He's our Swiss army knife," manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. "I don't want to eliminate (the possibility of Detwiler starting in Rodón's absence), but I think he's been doing extremely well in the role we've had him in. We want to make sure that we continue to give the opportunities that lead him to have the success he's been having.
"We'll look at all our options, I'm sure. But right now, as we see him, he's been doing such a good job in the role that he's had that I'd feel kind of bad to try to take him out of that."
Detwiler said he believes part of his success this season stems from a more concrete role and understanding that role. Last season, he was shuffled between the bullpen and the starting rotation. He finished the season, during which he wasn't fully healthy, with a 6.59 ERA.
"It's been pretty good," Detwiler said after Monday's game. "This year is one of the first times I actually took on my role and know what role I have. So it's easier for me to gauge when I'm going to go in the game, kind of get mentally prepared for that, and it's helped out a ton.
"Any time I can get the ball, it would be great. Obviously I've been a starter most of my career, it's what I've been used to. I'm going into a role that I'm very comfortable with, but if they ask me to start, I'll try to go out there with the same mindset I've been having out of the bullpen now. I think it's been working for me."
Giving that line of thinking a little more juice is that the White Sox also don't seem to think that Rodón will be sidelined for long.
Rodón went on the IL on Tuesday with shoulder soreness, lasting just two innings in his Monday outing against the Milwaukee Brewers before exiting with the injury. In two starts this season, he's logged only 5.2 innings.
It's the same injury that sent Reynaldo López to the injured list after his first start of the season, during which he recorded just two outs before leaving. López, by the way, will start a throwing program Wednesday, Renteria said, nine days after going on the IL. There's no timetable on when López could return, meaning Gio González could be in for more starts in place of the young right-hander.
If Rodón can return soon, then perhaps there's only a small number of starts that need to be accounted for, perhaps not enough to disturb what Detwiler's doing in the 'pen.
"Hopefully this isn't going to be a very long stay on IL and we'll be able to have him soon," Renteria said of Rodón on Tuesday. "We are optimistic, actually. Obviously, the next few days, time will tell where we're at. But from the conversations that I've had, we should be optimistic about where he's at."
But if Detwiler's not going to be subbed in for Rodón, who will be?
The White Sox spoke of expanded pitching depth often during the run-up to the 2020 season, and it's been drawn on early and often since Opening Day. González was called on when López went on the IL. Jimmy Lambert, just back from Tommy John surgery, made just two relief appearances before going on the injured list, and he's now on the 45-day IL. Now, Rodón.
And while being able to call on that pitching depth is certainly better than the alternative - remember last season? - the White Sox certainly didn't want to use it all up just a week and a half into the campaign.
The safety net beyond the current starting foursome of Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease and González, assuming now that Detwiler will stay in the bullpen, is limited to highly touted pitching prospect Dane Dunning and 36-year-old veteran lefty Clayton Richard, who the White Sox signed to a minor league deal Monday. Both guys are working out at the team's alternate training site in Schaumburg. There are other starting-pitching prospects there, too, including this summer's first-round draft pick Garrett Crochet, but it seems straits would have to get pretty dire for the White Sox to call on them, especially Crochet, who made just one appearance during his shortened junior season at the University of Tennessee.
As injuries, particularly to pitchers, pile up across baseball in the wake of a brief ramp-up to Opening Day, the White Sox have not found themselves immune and might need to continue to search outside the organization for depth.
Renteria, meanwhile, might simply use the expanded rosters to his advantage and employ "bullpen days" when Rodón's turn in the rotation comes around. The next one comes Saturday, when the White Sox take on the Cleveland Indians on the South Side. Still, brief starts by the team's starting pitchers have forced Renteria to go to his bullpen early and often this season. As of this writing, only four teams in baseball have seen more innings from their relief pitchers.
And so the White Sox have some things to figure out.
"I think we have to allow ourselves to play out these next few days before we determine what options we can take," Renteria said. "We've been in a little bit of a quandary over the last 10 to 12 days. Let's see how it goes the next few days before we figure out and determine what action we'll take as an organization to fill that spot."
Why Ross Detwiler might not join the White Sox starting rotation originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago