On the DL since April 22 with a flexor muscle strain in his left arm, Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale is technically eligible to be activated this weekend, when the White Sox head to Ohio to face the Cleveland Indians. According to pitching coach Don Cooper and GM Rick Hahn it’s very unlikely that Sale will see mound time in Cleveland.
However, the White Sox are 6-6 since Sale’s last start on April 18 and the team’s rotation has shown significant strength and surprising depth recently despite losing Felipe Paulino to injury as well. While still unfortunate, Sale’s continued absence should not have a long-lasting effect on his team.
It’s almost always a huge pitfall when a team’s No. 1 starter goes down, especially for a team like the White Sox whose starting pitching struggled with some consistency issues early on. The fact is that problems arise as the team scrambles to fill that ace-sized hole in the rotation. A prime example of this in 2014 is the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose starting staff has an MLB-worst 6.34 ERA in the absence of Patrick Corbin.
In the White Sox’ 12 games played since losing Sale, Chicago’s starters, be they already-installed members of the rotations or call-ups, have made quality in starts in nine of those games. John Danks is 1-1 in that stretch with a 3.75 ERA. Andre Rienzo, who earned a call-up on April to fill in for Paulino, is 2-0 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts.
Pulled from triple-A Charlotte after Erik Johnson’s demotion, 29-year-old rookie Scott Carroll wowed in his MLB debut by giving up just one earned run over 7.1 innings on the mound. And despite being 0-2 with a 5.82 over his last three starts, Jose Quintana also has 14 strikeouts compared to two walks in that stretch, making it 40 consecutive starts for him with three or fewer walks.
The White Sox will reportedly send Danks, Carroll and Rienzo to the mound this weekend against the Indians. All three are coming off of strong last outings, and with the Indians’ recent struggles, the White Sox have a chance to start the second month of their season with a bang, with or without their ace.