It began with Michael Kopech, who opted out of the shortened season July 10 for personal reasons.
It moved to Reynaldo Lopez, who landed on the injured list with shoulder discomfort July 27.
It’s continued with Carlos Rodon, who lasted only two innings in Monday night’s start against the Brewers. Before the White Sox wrapped up a two-game set at Milwaukee Tuesday night, Rodon landed on the injured list with a sore shoulder.
While the Sox’s offense has been even more explosive than expected in the early going and the bullpen has already rattled off an 18-inning scoreless streak, the starting pitching’s been a concern.
Kopech, hopefully, shows up to 2021 spring training in February ready to go. The promising right-hander missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, so he’ll be facing a daunting comeback trail.
Lopez was trying to bounce back from a rough 2019 season (10-15, 5.38 ERA), but he recorded only two outs in his first start this year.
Sox manager Rick Renteria said Lopez is going to start a throwing program Wednesday, so there is some hope he can return.
As for Rodon, Renteria is keeping his fingers crossed the injury-prone left-hander can also make it back this season.
“I’m sure it’s not easy, but hopefully this isn’t going to be a very long, protracted stay on the IL and we’ll be able to have him soon,” Renteria said. “We are optimistic, actually. Obviously the next few days, time will tell. But with the conversations that I’ve had, we should be optimistic.”
Rodon missed most of last year after having Tommy John surgery, and he had a shoulder operation in 2018.
In Monday’s game against the Brewers, Rodon looked uncomfortable, and his fastball topped out in the upper 80s (mph).
Gio Gonzalez was signed in December to be a starter, and the veteran lefty replaced Lopez after making his first appearance out of the bullpen.
As for Rodon’s replacement, the Sox still have a few days to think about it.
“We’ve been in a little bit of a quandary over the last 10 to 12 days,” Renteria said. “Let’s see how it goes the next few days before we figure out and determine what action we’ll take to fill that spot.”
The Sox purchased Brady Lail’s contract from their Schaumburg training facility Tuesday, and the 26-year-old righty made 112 starts in the Yankees’ minor league system from 2012 to 2019.
Ross Detwiler seems like a much better option to replace Rodon.
Toiling for the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League last year, Detwiler signed a minor league contract with the Sox in May and wound up joining the roster.
In 18 games (12 starts), Detwiler was an uninspiring 3-5 with a 6.59 ERA. A 34-year-old lefty, he had hip surgery in October and has been a marvel out of the Sox’s bullpen this year with the aid of a nasty sinker.
Retiring 24 of the 26 hitters he’s faced this season, Detwiler has pitched 81/3 scoreless innings to go with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Moving back to the starting rotation is OK with Detwiler, who was drafted by the Nationals with the No. 6 overall pick in 2007.
“Obviously, I’ve been a starter most of my career,” Detwiler said. “It’s what I’ve been used to. If they ask me to start, I’ll try to go out there with the same mindset I’ve been having out of the bullpen now.”
The Sox don’t need a starter to replace Rodon until Saturday, so they likely aren’t going to announce a replacement for a few days.
Renteria did say he is hesitant to move Detwiler out of the bullpen given the remarkable success, but he’s not going to “eliminate” the option.