It is difficult not to notice the emotion that Chicago White Sox starter Andre Rienzo displays on the mound. Whether it be talking to himself or giving an animated fist pump after getting a key out, the Brazilian right hander clearly wears his emotions on his sleeve. The Sox have prided themselves on having a different attitude than last year’s by showing more emotion on the field, but that does not matter they do not achieve success.
Last season, Rienzo was thrown into the rotation after Jake Peavy was traded at deadline. In ten outings he generated an ERA of 4.82 with a WHIP of 1.48. After a hot start, teams started to pick up on Rienzo’s tendencies. Opponents realized that Rienzo relied heavily on elevating his fastball up in the zone when his off-speed pitches were not up to par on any given day. Even with his struggles towards the end of the year, Rienzo gained valuable experience.
Entering 2014, Rienzo was expected to compete for the fourth and fifth spot in the rotation. Those jobs were won by Erik Johnson and Felipe Paulino coming out of camp. That left Rienzo on the outside looking in from Class AAA Charlotte.
After an “injury” to Paulino and Johnson’s demotion due to his inability to get hitters out, Rienzo got the call to return to the majors. Inserted into a rotation that has only two starters in it that were on the initial 25-man roster, the righty is trying to once again prove that he belongs. With ace Chris Sale coming off the disabled list in the next couple weeks, every start has become crucial for Rienzo.
Sale will undoubtedly be placed back in the rotation upon his return. With John Danks and Jose Quintana definitely not being demoted upon Sale’s return, the decision will be made between Rienzo and Scott Carroll.
Carroll has struggled over the course of his last two starts, but that fact alone does not mean Rienzo will stick come judgment day. The second-year starter has to prove that he belongs through his own success.
Rienzo continued to look strong during his no decision against the Oakland Athletics Wednesday afternoon. He quieted the bats of the smoldering A’s by giving up two runs on two hits in 6.1 innings. His ERA dropped to 4.2o and opponents are now hitting a measly .212 off of him. Rienzo has been able to keep hitters off balance this year by mixing in his elevating fastball instead of relying solely on that pitch.
Clearly through his first six games this season, Rienzo has proven that he deserves to stick in the rotation once Sale returns. If he can continue to build off the momentum from his encouraging start to the season, Rienzo could be a part of the staff for the long term.