HomeBaseballWhat should the White Sox playoff rotation look like?
What should the White Sox playoff rotation look like?
September 11, 2021
As I come barreling through my hangover after #108ing, delicious Goose Island beer. And watching our White Sox beat the Red Sox in a thriller, capped by Jose Abreu‘s 3 run ding dong in the 3rd inning off of a Tanner Houck. I am left to ponder what the future holds. A future October. A future we’ve dreamed about for a long damn time. The main thing I’ve been batting around in my terrifically tanned skull, which Mailman Jack is awfully jealous of, is what the White Sox starting rotation will look like when the ALDS starts on October 7th.
I’ve been asking basically everyone I run into at the ballpark and otherwise, WHO SHOULD START GAME ONE!?!?!? Most teams don’t even really have that sort of a dilemma, but the White Sox are, as the kids say, just built different. It’s a team highly dependent on a good starting rotation, but with minimal differences in underlying talent and quality of their top 4 starters. I’m not saying they are all exactly the same, what I am saying is that the combination of their strengths and weaknesses leave you with an interesting problem. When I say problem, I mean it in the fun jigsaw puzzle style problem, not the “I haven’t filed my taxes the last decade and the IRS is hunting me down” sort of problem.
So Who Does the BeefLoaf want to start in Game 1 of the ALDS?
I thought you’d never ask.
My answer, after minimal pondering is one that I am not hearing much out there in the concourse, in Section 108 or in them Twitter Streets and thats……..
I’m not choosing Lucas Giolito because his dad Rick was nice enough to do108 Fest with us back in January. I’m not choosing Lucas Giolito because as you can see in the picture above, we did hang with his dad and brother (not to brag). I’m not choosing Lucas Giolito because he’s a handsome sonuvabitch, that is seemingly a wonderful human being and shares my affinity for kittens. I’m not choosing Lucas Giolito because he’s one of the original lynch pins of this rebuild. NOPE. None of that shit. I’m choosing Lucas because out of the top 3 starters on this roster, he’s the most volatile.
When people think about Volatility, they think BAD, but that’s not true. It’s just the most extreme outcomes. If you look at the White Sox top 4 starters in 2021, Lucas Giolito is the only one with 3 Game Scores OVER 80 and 3 Game Scores UNDER 30 (Game Score is a simplistic metric developed by Bill James to measure the quality of an outing, higher is better). He’s a top end starter, sometimes and sometimes he isn’t. Starting him in Game 1, you get to use that volatility to your advantage. If he’s great and dominates, you are up 1-0 in a first to 3 wins series. If he’s not as great, you have your bullpen fully rested to get into the game early and take over. I also think he’s durable enough to come back on short rest effectively, later on in the series (which we’ll get to later).
Lance Lynn was the deadline acquisition a healthy amount of us White Sox fans wanted back in 2020. When the trade was actual consummated in the off-season, I was personally thrilled. I know some people poo-pooh’d the idea of giving up 6 years of Dane Dunning for Lynn, but that seemed more a relic of White Sox fans having Rebuild Brain. You know where they can only think about things like “team control” and “bWAR per year value”, instead of fancy metrics like WINNING!!
Lynn is the steadiest of the starters. Although, as noted in my most recent blog about my bullpen concerns, he hasn’t been as dominant against the other potential playoff teams. Regardless, he’s built for October, both in body type and mentality. He’s my easy game two starter and I wouldn’t even be mad at you if you wanted him in game one.
Carlos Rodon has been goddamn magnificent this season. There’s no other way to describe. He’s also the author of the only no-hitter that us 108ers have ever seen in person. Fucking beautiful. I think Carlos is the toughest pitcher on this staff, when completely healthy. The only problem with Carlos is that he has some durability issues and I think that in a playoff series, particularly a “first team to 3 wins” series, we are only going to get to use Carlos once.
Our friends at SoxMachine were talking about this recently on their wonderful podcast. I do however, disagree with Jim Margalus, I don’t think the White Sox will deploy Rodon out of the bullpen outside of his playoff start. That got my mans Ricky Renteria fired, so we can’t do that. Opens old wounds on the BeefLoaf.
In basically any game scenario that would be game 3, I feel really comfortable with Carlos being out there. Particularly if everything goes wrong and this team is down 0-2. I’d expect him to give a classic stopper performance.
When I did research for a recent blog and reviewed some game logs for ALDS in 2018 and 2019, it was the preference of most teams to go with their game 1 starter again in game 4 on short rest. Below is the schedule for the ALDS in 2021.
Bringing back Lucas Giolito is certainly an option, and Cease has certainly struggled a bit versus some of the potential playoff teams (see the table below), but he seems to be peaking right now. Cease is really showing us how he’s growing into his potential right before our eyes during a pennant race.
That’s how I’d line up the first 4 games starters for the ALDS for our White Sox (which will probably be against the Astros, but I’ll leave discussion of that specific opponent for a future blog). Game 5 would clearly be an ALL HANDS ON DECK situation.
HOW WOULD YOU LINE UP THE ROTATION FOR THE ALDS???
Hit me up on the twitter machine to let me know your thoughts.