Although September has a whole different feeling this year than it did in 2012, the Chicago White Sox still have some important baseball to play as the 2013 campaign wraps up. The next month won’t be spent fighting for a divisional title, but the White Sox’ coaching staff and front office will have the opportunity to evaluate their young talent and begin constructing a team that can hopefully win as soon as next year.
There are many storylines to be addressed for the Pale Hose from now until next spring, but the one that could be the most important is who will round out the back end of their starting rotation. Currently, rookie right-hander Andre Rienzo has the job as the Sox fifth starter. And although he’s shown glimpses of excellence in his seven outings since being called up, he’s also had a few rough starts, making the battle for the Sox fifth starter an open competition.
The White Sox could certainly pick up an arm this offseason to fill out their starting rotation, but before they decide to go after a free agent hurler, they may want to see what their young arms — like 23-year-old right-hander Erik Johnson— can do at the big league level. Spending time at both Double and Triple-A in 2013, Johnson is 12-3 with a 1.96 ERA.
With no Major League experience, Johnson is still waiting for his first opportunity to prove he belongs in Chicago’s starting rotation. As the White Sox begin their September call-ups, the 6-foot-3 righty might finally get his chance.
If the Sox do decide to call up Johnson, or any other starter for that matter, it would make the most sense to use a six-man rotation for the remainder of the year. Not only would this allow for the opportunity to see another young arm compete at the big league level, it would also give starters Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago the chance to ease their way into the offseason.