The White Sox are my favorite team, across sports, the White Sox are very likely your favorite team as well if you are reading this. That’s why Carlos Rodon’s breaking injury news yesterday was so soul crushing. We desperately want this team to be good again, it seems like so long since they were. It seems like XX lbs ago for some of you, or XX spouses ago for others. Regardless, we are always wishcasting various things about prospects and trades and future free agents, but I figured, instead of wishcasting, let’s take a look at the recent past and project some standards on our wishes. I chose pitching because I’m a glutton for punishment.
Anywho, I really desired to see, how bad the White Sox pitching staff is in context of recent vintage AL playoff teams. Behold, the table below.
Essentially, I took the 4th starters (a bit subjective, but I sought out fairness across name value / usage / effectiveness and compiled the list), of the playoff teams in the AL from 2016-2018 to form an average of sorts for what the 4th starter looks like. Remember, the 4th starter on a playoff team is generally as mediocre as it gets. Starters 1-3 on a playoff team are usually either good, or having a fake good season. The 5th starter, even on a playoff team is sometimes a lightning bolt of luck, other times a hodge podge of veterans and yutes patching 5-8 starts together each to make up the 28-32 trips to the hill that the spot requires. Guess what? In ERA, FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) and ERA+ (nerd stuff that makes the league average 100, so it’s easy for all of us non-Ivy Leaguers to understand), Carlos Rodon’s career averages (his IP average is based on the 3 seasons he made at least 20 starts) look like the conglomeration of these studly lanzadores.
Now, I know some of you were really down on Carlos before the injury news, but Carlos was most definitely the best pitcher on this staff, see below the career ERA+(above 100 is good, below is less good) for the dudes still in play.
Nova 95 (but let’s face it, he’s currently worse than that)
Giolito 78 (bad)
The conclusion is, using these various metrics, worse than a lot of you probably thought. The White Sox need at least 3 starting pitchers of better quality than Carlos Rodon and now with the injury, they need another that’s at least as good as him. That replacement for Rodon might just be Lopez, they have similar ERA+ so far, although Lopez trails him by a fair amount in ERA & FIP. Now the White Sox just need 3 pitchers better than Rodon (on average) to be a playoff team (in theory). I know there are lots of people holding out hope for Kopech and Cease, but let’s hold our horses. Pitchers like Kopech coming off of Tommy John surgery usually require a little bit of time of actually pitching before velocity and command return to prior forms and we don’t even know what those prior forms are going to look like in the majors, after all, we only saw 14 innings last year. Essentially we’ll have two rookie pitchers next year leading our staff. Given that our hopes and dreams were already in the toilet, I figured this last kick in the sac couldn’t be too, too bad. I ran a query in Baseball Reference Play Index to isolate the Rookie pitchers that logged at least 3.0 WAR in a season since 2010, there have been exactly 10, so about 1 per season.
We’ll need both of these dudes to knock this sort of feat out and somehow acquire another pitcher that does so. This starting pitching staff, as presently constructed might as well play their games in Lake Placid, NY and require Al Michaels on the call. If we are expecting them to turn into a playoff team next year.