For a moment, Scott Carroll had a chance to be yet another story of the year for the Chicago White Sox. After winning his major league debut by beating David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays, it seemed like Carroll had arrived ready to give the White Sox’ injury-plagued rotation a sigh of relief.
For two starts he did just that, dominating the opposition first in his outing against the Rays, in which he gave up just one earned run in 7.1 innings, and then in his second start against the Cleveland Indians, picking up the loss but still lasting six innings and giving up two runs (none earned) on five hits. Pitches were perfectly falling into place for him, much to the delight of the White Sox’ administration.
Then came the struggles. Carroll allowed 17 earned runs in his next three starts combined, losing two of those ballgames and earning himself a swift demotion to the bullpen. Carroll said in interviews that his attitude remained upbeat, but it seemed like time was running out for him and his chance of making all the years he toiled in the minors worth it.
His first relief outing didn’t exactly go as planned either, and Carroll surrendered one run in two innings against the New York Yankees, on a solo shot by Brian Roberts, the second batter he faced after entering the game.
But then the White Sox faced off against rival Cleveland Indians, needing to take advantage of the fact that the Cleveland club has struggled this season. As the White Sox slowly creep up in the standings, the Indians continue to languish in last place.
In the series finale, Carroll came into the game for his second career relief appearance, after a rain delay made it impossible for starter Chris Sale to continue pitching. Mixing a few new cutters into his pitches, Carroll shut down the Tribe despite allowing five hits over three innings, and pitched out of several jams by using his crucial sinker to get the final outs. He picked up the win thanks to a more simple approach adapted for the mentality of the bullpen. It also helped that he stayed ahead in the count on most batters, and didn’t walk any.
Despite his age, Carroll is still by and large a rookie and thus needs time to get past the huge learning curve that governs how to pitch effectively in the majors. As the White Sox sit in second place in their division, having a young pitcher who shows a particular propensity for strong pitching against another division rival is always a plus. The White Sox seem to know they have something special in Carroll, and it’s clear they intend to see it through.