Now that Major League Baseball has set a start date for the 2020 season following months of negotiations between the players and owners, Fans can have expectations for their teams once again. With the shorten 60 game season and rosters increased to 30 players for the start of the season, it bolds especially well for the Chicago White Sox. Due to the late start, Chicago will have several important pitchers return from injury that could bolster an already talented bullpen.
The White Sox before the start of the pandemic had their bullpen already in place with relievers Steve Cishek, Aaron Bummer, Kelvin Hererra, and Alex Colome. Last season, Colome had a 2.80 ERA along with 30 saves recorded 30 saves while Bummer struck out 60 batters over 67 innings. The extended time off will benefit Cishek as he has logged a lot of innings in the past few seasons with the Cubs. Herrera had a disappointing 2019 campaign due to a back injury, but is expected to return to his All-star form this year.
With the start of the season postponed for the first three and half months, it proves beneficial for the White Sox as mid-July was the expected return of several of their starting pitchers. Both Carlos Rodon and Michael Kopech were expected to join the team midway through the season before the pandemic started but now have a chance to start the season with the team when play begins either July 23rd or July 24th. Kopech hasn’t pitched since September of 2018 while Rodon’s 2019 season ended in early-May as both required Tommy John surgery.
The original plan was for Kopech to return to the team around May or June of this year with Rodon following in either July or August. The organization and fan base have been high on both pitchers as the two have the potential to top-tier starters when healthy. Their presence later in the season was to provide starting pitching depth if the team suffered an injury to the rotation or if any of the young pitchers struggled.
Now with the extended roster and short amount of games, the White Sox probably would be best suited to utilize both Kopech and Rodon out of the bullpen. The added depth will provide Rick Renteria with more options in the bullpen, with there being a smaller risk of over-use of relievers. Having two starters will also help with the new three-batter minimum rule as the Rodon and Kopech are talented enough to disregard the righty or lefty matchup.
Adding two talented starters to the bullpen also provides insurance if Colome, Bummer, and Hererra struggle in the closer’s role. With only 60 games for the season, every game will matter for the White Sox’s goal of making the playoffs this season. Kopech’s triple-digit fastball and Rodon’s wipeout slider make them both capable of stepping into and being sufficient as the team’s closer if need be.
As the White Sox prepare for a short and abrupt season, they need to take advantage of every resource they have on the team. If Rodon and Kopech are healthy at the end of July, there is no reason why the team should not use them in a relief role. Whether be in a long-relief or save situation, the pair of pitchers strongly need to be considered due to the crucial importance of each game. Chicago has a strong chance of winning their first division title in 12 years, and it could be because of two prominent starters that were used as relievers during a unique situation.