The White Sox Super Bullpen (AGAIN) and 2022 Innings Load
With the fun and excitement of the 2022 #108Tourney just hours in our rearview mirror, it’s time here at the 108 blog to focus our attention back to the White Sox. Most of yous out there are downright clamoring for additional arms in the dugout by the lid-lifter on April 8th in Motown. I wouldn’t mind it either, but as presently constituted, I needed to do my annual rundown of how I think the innings will break amongst our starters. A median good team amount of innings to be pitched in a season is roughly 1,425, so let’s go to the table and find out how I think this breaks down and discuss my guess (projections, basically).
The Road to 1,425 IP for the White Sox
This is a BeefLoaf handcrafted estimate, caveats, footnotes, YMMV, all that shit! Please do come back to this list in October when I miss wildly on these fellas because it’s going to happen, but it’s still fun to talk about.
The Big 3
My Lucas Giolito IP prediction of 175 is right in-line with his normal career totals. I know he came into camp looking like JJ Watt or some shit and that the expectation is that all his performance metrics will jump, but I tend to think that he settles into what he normally does. On the edges, I could see a higher strike-out rate or going deeper into games, but after last October, it wouldn’t surprise me if TLR is more cognizant of pulling these horses earlier when he can and saving some bullets for the (expanded) post-season.
Dylan Cease has basically never been injured in the majors, which both promotes tremendous confidence and fills me with impending doom. His main issue with throwing a ton of innings (he threw 165 2/3 last year, which was a career high) is pitch efficiency. He runs deep counts and in-turn strikeouts basically everyone (226 in 2021, the team leader). I think he goes up and gets his career high, barely, but also maybe skips a start or two just for normal “LOAD MANAGEMENT”.
I love the Big Bastard! I think all White Sox fans love Lance Lynn. We wanted him at the 2020 trade deadline, then we ended up getting him to start the 2021 season and he was a total stud. A man of average intelligence once exclaimed on a LIVE PODCAST at Wings and Rings that Lynn could be effective at 400 lbs!!! I know MASS = GAS! I love it! However, as a big fella myself, I know being big boned can drag the endurance a tad bit, and so I am expecting the Big Bastard to skip a few starts during the year. I’m expecting him to get an early shower a couple tree times. Especially when the Sox are spanking the shit out of the Guardians or whoever on a hot July night. 150 innings.
Big D Hours and PhD K
I’m really hoping for a dead cat bounce from Dallas Keuchel. Even if we get that though, the White Sox have financial incentives to hold Big D Hours under 160 innings. If he passes that, threshold he secures a $20 million 2023 contract. Rick Hahn traded Nate Jones along with Int’l Bonus Pool (which is pretty valuable) just to avoid paying his buyout. This shit ain’t happening.
I wanted to call Michael Kopech “Dr. K”, but apparently that is already taken, so I am going with PhD K. I can already tell that nickname sucks, but let’s just continue. There is quite a bit of discussion out there how you have to bring him along in 2022. He hasn’t thrown that many innings.
I understand all of that, but also, he’s heading into arbitration next year and the White Sox need to find out what the fuck he actually is. I’m usually in the camp of being patient with young players, but not in this spot, let’s push him. It’s probably fine to start him slow in April, but once he gets stretched out. Just treat him like a regular starter and see what he can handle. We need to find this out before the White Sox decide not to extend Giolito or Cease.
These Other Guys
I am by default a Vince Velasquez guy, so I’m estimating him not being cut by my birthday (which is June 17th, I could use more house pants if you are needing gift ideas). Reynaldo Lopez should be the defacto 6th starter, jack of all trades dude out there, now that he can see, so 75 innings seems right. I didn’t feel confident naming what AAA fodder fills in those remaining innings / start. If you have a good beat on who you think the NEXT MAN UP will be, just holler at me on twitter (it’s probably Jimmy Lambert up first).
Liam Hendriks is Liam Hendriks. Chorizy-E has me terrified that Joe Kelly is end of career Kelvin Herrera, so I went with 35 innings, if it’s 45 or 25, I’d believe those too, but definitely not a full 60 innings load. Aaron Bummer and Kendall Graveman should give the normal load, so to speak.
Craig Kimbrel!! Chorizy-E and I have written a fair amount of words this off-season about Mr. Kimbrel. HERE, here and HEEEEERE. As we sort of predicted, Kimbrel is looking like he’ll be in Chicago in 2022. A vestige of Rick Hahn identifying as a guy who is “good at trading” and can’t identify a sunk cost. The much maligned $16 million option that was picked up in the off-season will probably come up anytime the White Sox are lacking in any area during the 2022 season.
All that being said, I expect Kimbrel to be fine. A decent, fairly durable reliever with above average performance, with wild variance. Yep, I expect both dominant Cubs Kimbrel and ineffective White Sox Kimbrel to surface throughout the campaign. I’m expecting him to be here all year.
The most interesting part in this bullpen to me is Garrett Crochet. I wrote back in November (which seems like an eternity ago) that I think trading him was the highest and best use for the 2022 White Sox. But alas, he is here and he is in the bullpen. I think the team pushes him to get up into the 70 innings pitched range.
Much like Kopech (PhD K), I think the White Sox need to find out what they have and in year 3 I think we see them use him aggressively as the multi-inning, 40-50 pitch weapon that we’d like to see him be. If he’s not going to be a starter, let’s get this role lined up for the kid. He was filthy when I saw him in Spring Training the other day.
The White Sox rotation seems short and the bullpen is expensive and still potentially iffy in spots, but there pitching is a definite strength and I look forward to watching them in just a week….