The starting pitchers are what we’re going to look back on this time, they were largely healthy all year and some made some strides forward, and some not so much. Overall the 5 players who started the most, actually making 92 percent of the starts this year, accounted for 4.3 wins above replacement. So thats not great but when the guy who brings up the rear was worth -0.2, and 2 coming in under 1 win above replacement your not gonna have a high wins above replacement. Unfortunately the biggest blow to the staff came with the loss of prospect Michael Kopech to a torn UCL after only 14.1 innings. Instead of lamenting the loss Michael Kopech, which we should have already done, let’s look at the guys who pitched the most.
We’ll start with James Shields who was the only White Sox pitcher to surpass the 200 innings pitched mark, and only one of 13 in the league to see and pass the 200 mark. He made an adjustment going into this season that definitely seemed to help him, especially against lefties. He lowered his arm slot and it improved his stats to the tune of lower averages of lefties against him from .278 in 17, to .212 this year. He got 51 more strikeouts this year ending with 154 this year with 55 percent of those coming low and out of the zone.
Let’s bury the very worrisome starter here, Lucas Giolito had a horrible season, i’m not sure of that really needed to be pointed out. If you watched the games, checked the box score, or took in really any coverage of the team you know Lucas struggled mightily. His walks per nine almost doubled from last year and he only left 66.8 runners on base both of which were the cellar of the big leagues. He gave up 1.4 home runs per nine innings and 13.4 of the fly balls he gave up left the yard. You would think that maybe he had a velocity dip or he couldn’t strike people out with secondary pitches seeing these numbers but that’s not true, his velocity was the same and his slider and his change up generated whiff rates of 36.6 and 34.1.
Okay that was rough, I need a breathe, let’s take a look at the best starter of the year, Reynaldo Lopez. He set career highs in K/9 with 7.20, HR/9 with 1.16, and LOB percentage of 57.4 in 188.2 innings. He added a slider and a sinker to his repertoire, helping him only give up a hard hit percentage of 32.8. In an era of pitchers only going 5 or 6 innings due to the “third time through the order” penalty, Lopez only gave up 13 runs in the sixth inning and beyond.
Carlos Rodon pitched 120.2 innings this year after coming back from an injury. It wasn’t the dominant season most hoped it would be but there was some things that looked good. He gave up only 1.1 home runs per nine innings and had a high ground ball rate of 41.5 percent. He left almost 73 percent of the runners he let on base there and not to come around to touch the plate without the inning being over. A worrisome note from the season is a 2 MPH velocity drop on his fastball, but he overcame the dropping velocity by throwing almost 58 percent of his first pitches for strikes.
The last starter we will take a look at is Dylan Covey. He pitched 121.2 innings this year, he was worth 1.1 wins above replacement, he started throwing a cutter this year and unleashed it 6.1 percent of the time. This season he had a K/9 of 6.73, a 3.85 BB/9 and 0.96 HR/9, he also had a 7.2% K-BB rate, but all those numbers didn’t translate to the progression of the game. He got worse as the game went on, a lot worse, he gave up 20 runs in the 5th inning and had a 1.88 WHIP, not seeing many innings after that.
It wasn’t a total loss for the pitching staff but there is a lot of room for improvement, and unfortunately as mentioned above Michael Kopech won’t be seeing the field not on a rehab assignment. As a staff the White Sox had the highest total walks per 9, and had the lowest left on base percentage. It was a disappointing year for Carson Fulmer also, he started the season with the major league team, but ended up spending the large majority of the year in triple A Charlotte because of a poor performance. That will do it for the starters, we will be taking a look at the relief pitchers next time.
Thanks for reading and as always drop your thoughts below or on the twitter.