For the second straight start, Chicago White Sox‘ Felipe Paulino allowed six earned runs while failing to get past the sixth inning. The bullpen was once again taxed in the White Sox loss to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday. Not only is Paulino struggling, but it is starting to become difficult to pinpoint any positives in his outings.
After pitching 5.1 innings of one-run ball while striking out six in his first start of the season, Paulino has failed to keep hitters on edge the past two outings. The 30-year-old is leaving his fastball right over the heart of the plate, and hitters are making him pay. In games at Coors Field and US Cellular Field, both hitter-friendly parks, Paulino has allowed a total of four home runs and an increased number of fly balls instead of grounders, which are finding open areas of the field.
His fastball barely touches 90 mph and his off-speed pitches are not fooling anyone. Paulino’s inability to go deep into games so far this year suggests that he is not fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Whatever the reasoning for his early struggles, Paulino’s performances so far have White Sox fans getting wary of the team giving him a chance to resurrect his career.
At US Cellular Field on Saturday, some fans voiced their opinion that the Sox should give one of their young guns a shot instead of giving Paulino another chance. While giving up on Paulio right now is not a reasonable idea, it is worth discussing how long the Sox keep the righty on the 25-man roster.
This offseason, the only addition to the Sox starting rotation was Paulino. Penciled in the No. 5 starter, not much was expected of the righty. The Sox thought Paulino would add a veteran righty presence to a young lefty-heavy rotation and perform well enough that they could possibly flip him for a lower-level prospect at the deadline. Instead, Paulino has been a thorn in the team’s side.
He has caused more negatives for the Sox than positives. Having the bullpen eat up excessive innings and taking his team out of games early have overshadowed the positives that Paulino has offered.
The Sox have a number of budding prospects who deserve a shot. By continuing to start Paulino, the Sox are sending a message that seeing what he can prove is more important than putting the team in the best position to win. If he continues to struggle, Chris Beck and Chris Bassitt should be given a chance to show if they are major league-ready. Sure, they may not put the Sox in a better chance to win ballgames, but in a rebuilding season, it is more beneficial to grasp what youngsters are capable of doing instead of focusing on making a one-year rental work.
Yes, it is only April. Three starts is not a large enough sample size to determine whether the team should be cutting ties with anyone. Still, Paulino’s time with the Sox will be numbered if he continues to fail to show any positives in his starts. Whether one wants the Sox to contend or to continue their full-scale rebuild, having a struggling Paulino in the starting rotation is the wrong move.
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