The Chicago White Sox were eliminated from the 2012 MLB postseason Monday evening after the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals. They were given every opportunity this year to put the Tigers away and win the AL Central but could not take advantage, turning what could have been a memorable season for the White Sox into a forgettable one.
As such, it is now time to begin looking at how next year’s team will shape up for the White Sox, beginning with the starting rotation.
Following a season of cobbled rotation alignments, skipped turns and rotating rookie pitchers, the White Sox need to find a way to solidify the group as they move past the surprises and disappointments of the 2012 season.
There are two locks for the 2013 rotation. Lefty Chris Sale will likely earn the Opening Day nod for the White Sox next year after emerging as a legitimate No. 1 starter. He did falter down the stretch but compiled impressive stats. His line, 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA and 192 strikeouts, put him directly in the middle of the Cy Young conversation for much of the season.
John Danks is also assured a spot in the rotation when he is fully recovered from shoulder surgery. According to Danks, (via the Chicago Tribune) he is “at, or ahead of pace,” so he should be ready when the 2013 season starts.
How the rest of the rotation, from No. 3 on down, will shake out is the real question. It would be a surprise if the White Sox picked up the $22 million option on Jake Peavy, and the status of Gavin Floyd, who has a $9.5 million option with an unknown buyout, has yet to be determined.
While Peavy has recently stated that he would love to stay with the White Sox, the chance that general manager Kenny Williams matches what is sure to be a generous offer from another team is minimal at best.
Floyd, on the other hand, has a better chance of sticking around as he looks to improve on a subpar 2012 season.
A recent change in his delivery to the plate has yielded positive results, so it would be interesting to see if he could provide the type of consistency in the rotation that Peavy did. From there, the White Sox have some in-house options.
Jose Quintana appears to have earned a spot in the rotation next season, and Hector Santiago should get a long look during spring training for a potential spot as the No. 5 starter. Dylan Axelrod has also proved to manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper that he deserves, at the very least, a long look next year.
Triple-A starters Charles Shirek (11-5, 3.65 ERA) and Charlie Leesman (12-10, 2.47 ERA) will garner looks as well. Nestor Molina underwhelmed at Double-A Birmingham, losing 10 times with an ERA of 4.26, and appears to be at least a year away from serious consideration.
Not much to work with here, so Williams has some work to do. With Peavy all but gone, bringing back Floyd may be the best bet to have a rotation that will help the White Sox remain relevant next season. Then there is always the free-agent market to explore.
It should be an interesting offseason.