One of the biggest, if not THE biggest addition the White Sox made this offseason was signing Yasmani Grandal. Arguably a top 2 catcher in baseball, Grandal is elite both offensively and defensively when it comes to framing pitches. He’s obviously the clear cut no. 1 catcher on the team, no disrespect to James McCann. But which pitchers can Sox fans expect Grandal and McCann to regularly catch?
Lucas Giolito/James McCann
Unless there is a shocking twist, Lucas Giolito will be the Opening Day starter for the White Sox on March 26th. You can bet that McCann will be the one receiving him that day and all other days. The bond these two created last season clearly gave Giolito a sense of trust and comfort he hadn’t had in years prior. Grandal will still get into the game later. Most likely as a pinch hitter if needed once Giolito’s day is done. Abreu will be at first and Encarnacion is going to be handling DH duties. In short, it would be surprising for the White Sox to break up the connection that Giolito and McCann found in 2019.
Dallas Keuchel/Yasmani Grandal
Assuming Keuchel will be the starter in the 2nd game of the year, this is where Grandal should see his first action behind the plate for the White Sox. This has the potential to be a lethal combo. Keuchel is one of, if not the best at painting the corners, and Grandal is one of, if not the best at framing those pitches and stealing strikes. Grandal can really help provide an uptick in Keuchel’s strikeout numbers, an area that has never been an eye-popping part of his game. This is a true veteran battery with loads of postseason experience. Expect them to come out and get the job done every 5th day.
Dylan Cease/Yasmani Grandal
Dylan Cease has the stuff to be straight up nasty in this league. An upper 90’s fastball with a true 12-6 hammer curve and an improving changeup, he should only get better after his rough debut last year. The most important thing a pitcher can have is fastball command. Cease didn’t have a ton of that last year. Enter Grandal, a vet who can help Cease hone that command, provide tips, and of course, steal him some strikes. Grandal should be a great mentor to an up and coming stud in Cease.
Gio Gonzalez/James McCann
Gio Gonzalez is a great signing for the South Side. His best days are behind him, but he knows how to pitch and will give valuable innings to help anchor an overall young staff. There’s nothing too special about this battery. If anything, McCann can catch Gonzalez to spell Grandal from his usual backstop duties.
Reynaldo Lopez/Yasmani Grandal/James McCann
For Reynaldo, I think you can go either catching option. Yes he regressed mightily for the majority of 2019, but was able to finish strong. The problem with Lopez wasn’t really lack of control, it seemed more that he would always leave one or two mistakes up in the zone and it always got destroyed. He has a chance to bounce back from it by taking the Lucas Giolito approach and focusing more on the mental aspect of his game. If he can routinely tell himself to get the next batter, it shouldn’t matter who is catching him. He has all the physical tools to be a very good pitcher.
Michael Kopech/Yasmani Grandal
Once Kopech comes back into the fold, it will be very interesting to see how Rick Renteria handles the staff. An innings limit is almost a certainty at this point for Kopech, but I still think Grandal should be the one to catch him. A natural flamethrower, Kopech might have a bit of trouble finding his command in Chicago. It’s the same theme here as it is with Cease. Get the veteran stud pitch framer working with Kopech and have him steal some strikes and give him advice both before and during the game.
Carlos Rodon/James McCann/Yasmani Grandal
Similar to Reynaldo, I don’t think Rodon will warrant the need for a specific catcher when he returns in the second half of the season. He’s a veteran at this point in his career and knows how to pitch. We could even see him in a long-term relief role similar to what Andrew Miller provided for the Cleveland Indians. Whichever one of the two catchers needs a rest from behind the plate, the other will catch Rodon if he does indeed start for the Sox in 2020.