Are the White Sox MLB contenders with their reinforced rotation?

10:30 PM ETDavid SchoenfieldESPN Senior Writer CloseSenior writer of SweetSpot baseball blog Former deputy editor of Page 2 Been with ESPN.com since 1995We all know the recent history of the Chicago White Sox is uglier than those collared uniforms they wore in the late 1970s: Seven consecutive losing MLB seasons, one of four teams in…

10: 30 PM ET

  • David SchoenfieldESPN Senior Author

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    • Senior author of SweetSpot baseball weblog
    • Former deputy editor of Web page 2
    • Been with ESPN.com since 1995

Everyone knows the hot historical past of the Chicago White Sox is uglier than the ones collared uniforms they wore within the past due 1970s: Seven consecutive dropping MLB seasons, considered one of 4 groups within the 2010s to not make a postseason look and no playoff sequence victories since they gained the International Collection in 2005.

They a minimum of seem made up our minds to attempt upper in 2020. The White Sox added to their offseason haul on Saturday evening with ESPN’s Jeff Passan reporting the membership has agreed to a three-year, $55.Five million maintain former Cy Younger winner Dallas Keuchel, who went 8-Eight with a three.75 ERA for the Braves in 19 begins in 2019.

The White Sox simply signed fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez to a one-year, $Five million contract, along with previous signing catcher Yasmani Grandal and buying and selling for proper fielder Nomar Mazara from the Rangers. Additionally they re-signed first baseman Jose Abreu. Their projected payroll now sits at about $130 million in comparison to $114 million final season.

After going 72-90 in 2019, are those additions sufficient to make the White Sox a contender? Grandal, coming off a .246/.380/468 season with 28 house runs, is the massive signing, however that is most commonly bettering in small techniques across the edges, and I say that as keen on Keuchel. The cash is slightly unexpected for the reason that no one sought after him a yr in the past and he did not signal with the Braves till June, however he nonetheless components as an improve in a rotation that had a 5.30 ERA final season.

Let’s have a look at how the White Sox glance at the moment:

3B Yoan Moncada-S


SS Tim Anderson-R


1B Jose Abreu-R


C Yasmani Grandal-S


LF Eloy Jimenez-R


RF Nomar Mazara-L


CF Luis Robert-R


2B Nick Madrigal-R


DH ???

SP Lucas Gioloto-R


SP Dallas Keuchel-L


SP Gio Gonzalez-L


SP Reynaldo Lopez-R


SP Michael Kopech-R

RP Alex Colome-R


RP Aaron Bummer-L


RP Kelvin Herrera-R

A couple of notes right here. Robert and Madrigal are not at the 40-man roster but, so they are going to most likely serve a two-week apprenticeship within the minors to begin the season, however each are just about giant league-ready. Robert began 2019 in Prime-A and ended it in Triple-A, the place he had a .974 OPS in 47 video games. Madrigal, the fourth general select in 2018, additionally climbed from Prime-A to Triple-A, hitting .311 throughout 3 ranges with the dead-ball generation totals of 44 walks and simply 16 strikeouts.

Mazara has some superficially respectable numbers, hitting .268 with 19 house runs final yr for the Rangers, however he has been value 1.Eight WAR … over 4 seasons. He has been a below-average defender who does not stroll. Except the White Sox can liberate some energy with a swing and method alternate, he does not in reality lend a hand a lot (even supposing he is nonetheless an growth over the mess the White Sox had available in the market final yr).

The lineup is definitely amusing and intriguing and the hope is Moncada continues to enhance and Jimenez develops right into a feared bopper in the course of the lineup after hitting 31 house runs as a rookie. Tim Anderson is definitely thrilling and gained the batting name after hitting .335 in a breakout season, however given his overly competitive method, he is additionally close to the highest of any listing of gamers in all probability to regress in 2020 (he had a .399 common on balls in play, now not sustainable season to season). It could definitely be great if the Sox up the payroll to $145 million and fill that DH hollow with Nicholas Castellanos or Edwin Encarnacion. I do not undertaking this as a top-five lineup within the AL simply but (the White Sox have been 13th in runs a yr in the past), even supposing if Robert and Madrigal produce from the get-go they usually upload a DH there’s doable for a large growth.

The larger unknown is the rotation. Keuchel and Gonzalez are dangers in that they do not are compatible the prototype of what maximum groups are searching for in this day and age: top speed, top spin, four-seamers up within the zone. However each veterans understand how to pitch. With Keuchel, you recognize what you will get: flooring balls and that bulldog mentality. His OPS allowed, alternatively, has greater from.619 to .704 to .764 the previous 3 seasons, even supposing the Satisfied Amusing Ball affected everyone in 2019. There is not No. 1 or No. 2 upside right here, however he is a protected guess to publish an ERA round 4.00 and bite up innings.

Gonzalez was once one of the crucial sturdy starters within the sport till final season, when he made 17 begins and pitched simply 87 innings. He has lived at the edge the previous of couple seasons, averaging 4.1 walks in line with 9 whilst his strikeout price has dipped. He by no means has been a command man, however the truth that he were given simply $Five million suggests the loss of passion in him. He may just finally end up being an enormous discount, however there could also be top flameout doable right here given his age and peripheral numbers.

Very similar to how the lineup will want Robert and Madrigal to provide, the good fortune of the rotation leans closely on Lopez and Kopech. Lopez has a plus fastball, however the secondary stuff remains to be missing. The slider is his giant swing-and-miss pitch, however wasn’t a dominant providing (batters hit .244/.262/.482 in opposition to it). Complicated metrics level to a few limits on his upside: below-average spin price on his fastball and coffee spin on his curveball. And his changeup were given hit toughest of all.

Kopech has the upside that Lopez lacks, however is coming off Tommy John surgical procedure in September 2018, after he had made his primary league debut. He struck out 170 in 126⅓ innings at Triple-A that season, keeping up that top strikeout price even after he dialed down his fastball slightly to throw extra moves. Despite the fact that he comes again sturdy he’s going to be on an innings prohibit, so the Sox will want rotation intensity.

The White Sox will likely be a well-liked sleeper select. I nonetheless have them in the back of the Twins and Indians and I am not satisfied they are greater than a .500 group this present day, however I am additionally decrease at the White Sox than maximum. Something needless to say, alternatively: This would be the maximum attention-grabbing White Sox group in 15 years, and with younger ability in Moncada, Jimenez, Anderson, Robert and Madrigal it’ll be one of the crucial peak must-watch groups of 2020.