Projected Pitching Staff
Closer – David Robertson
Right-handed setup man – Nate Jones
Left-handed setup man – Zach Duke
RHP – Matt Albers
RHP – Jake Petricka
RHP – Zach Putnam
RHP – Daniel Webb
The team’s strength for the past few years will continue to be among the league’s best. The overall 3.66 FIP from 2015 tells a different story than the league-average 3.98 ERA. As previously mentioned, the staff was not improved by the defense behind them. Jeff Samardzija is gone after one disappointing season and won’t be missing that defense as he heads to San Francisco. As a team labeled “co-ace” to Chris Sale, his departure will move everyone else’s slot one place up in the rotation with Quintana, Rodon and Danks now the two, three and four, respectively. For the number five slot, Erik Johnson is the leader in the clubhouse in a battle with Jacob Turner and Mat Latos. Johnson made six starts that had better results than the eye test (wait, you weren’t watching September Chicago White Sox baseball?). His 3.34 ERA was much better than his 5.93 FIP. The White Sox did a good job by bringing in competition for Johnson and not just handing their product the job. The late move for Latos was a smart (and cheap) move. The added depth protects against injury and potential drop-offs from whomever wins the fifth spot and/or John Danks.
Carson Fulmer is the team’s top pitching prospect. The first round pick in 2015 is being projected by some to make his debut in 2016. The White Sox have a history of moving quickly with their pitching prospects but the current depth does not require a stunt to Fulmer’s growth. He should only come up when he is ready. Fulmer will, most likely, start the season in Double-A.
The bullpen did not change much after last offseason’s vast overhaul. David Robertson will hope to perfect some of the bumps along the road (a career-high seven home runs allowed) that he had in 2015. Zach Duke had an underwhelming year (4.62 FIP) and the one gap in the bullpen would be a shutdown left-handed pitcher if Duke continues to struggle. Nate Jones (19 appearances after an August debut) will be good to go in spring training and should be Robertson’s setup man and will be first in line to become the closer if anything were to happen to him.
There were no changes to a fairly good aspect of the team last year but there was still room to improve. With growing depth in the rotation, the bullpen may be helped by a long reliever who doesn’t begin the season in the rotation. Bullpens, as always, are inconsistent but this already looks like a spot for a deadline move if the team is in contention. At the same time, if they are not in contention, there are some good pieces to sell.