Considering the White Sox operate under the idea that big league promotions for top prospects come when the player is ready and best positioned to succeed at the major league level, it might have struck some as unusual that Dunning would be called up, pitch well and then be sent away - especially when the White Sox have been searching for positive performances from their starting pitchers.
But there was a perfectly understandable reason for the move ahead of Thursday's series-finale with the Detroit Tigers that saw Dunning swapped for outfielder Nicky Delmonico on the team's active roster.
After three games against the Cubs this weekend, the White Sox have off days Monday and Thursday next week sandwiched around a two-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Those off days allow Rick Renteria to manage his rotation with a little breathing room, and considering it's been a little banged-up this season, that's not a bad thing.
Lucas Giolito got the ball against the Tigers on Thursday. Dallas Keuchel will start Game 1 of the Crosstown series Friday. Renteria has yet to indicate who his starting pitcher will be Saturday, though considering Gio González is healthy, per the skipper, that start could very well go to Reynaldo López in a return from the injured list, where he's been since recording just two outs in his first and to this point only start of 2020. Dylan Cease is scheduled to face his former organization for the first time as a big leaguer in the finale of that series Sunday.
But with the off day Monday, the White Sox will be able to pitch Giolito and Keuchel on regular rest in the two games against the Pirates. If it is indeed López reclaiming his spot in the rotation Saturday, then he'd have an extra day of recovery before starting the first game of a series against the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 28. Cease would take his turn, also with an extra day of rest, Aug. 29. And the White Sox wouldn't need Dunning's services again until Aug. 30.
There's little point in having a young pitcher who the White Sox are still hoping to stretch out further - Dunning only threw 73 pitches Wednesday and admitted to getting tired in his fifth inning of work - sit around for a week and a half before his next start. So he'll head to Schaumburg and continue to do more regular work until the White Sox need him against the Royals.
"Want to keep him working, so he's going to keep working and then we'll see where we're at when we get to that point again," Renteria said Thursday. "This young man's pretty good. We've always liked him, and unfortunately the injury bug got him a little bit, but I thought he showed very, very well yesterday."
Of course, López isn't the only member of the White Sox starting rotation currently working his way back from injury. Carlos Rodón is also on the mend, though general manager Rick Hahn said earlier this week that Rodón is a tad behind López in his recovery from shoulder soreness. When Rodón returns, however, it will be interesting to see how the White Sox proceed. Would they expand the rotation to six pitchers? That would allow Dunning to continue to progress as a member of the starting staff while still including Giolito, Keuchel, Cease, López and Rodón.
Of course, the White Sox could also be in the hunt for a playoff spot during the month of September and could be looking to throw their best five arms in an attempt to end a more than decade-long postseason drought for the franchise.
This counts as one of those good problems to have.
"We're very fortunate," Renteria said, "and we're going to have some good problems down the road."
Why White Sox sent Dane Dunning down a day after his major league debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago