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Short-term Carlos Rodon replacements uninspiring

Most awkward spot of depth chart exposed by early injury

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox
Tyler Danish
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Muscle tightness in a pitcher’s arm, be it forearm, triceps or biceps, is often cause for alarm.

For the time being, the White Sox are trying to downplay concerns about Carlos Rodon.

Rick Hahn said an MRI of Rodon’s arm came back clean, but the biceps tightness that triggered a late scratch from his Friday start will likely set him back enough to require a season-starting stint on the disabled list.

An MRI on Friday revealed no structural damage to his biceps, but he will seek a second opinion early next week, general manager Rick Hahn said.

Hahn said it is too early to tell how long the team will be without Rodon, adding that "odds are" Rodon could start the season on the disabled list.

"We're going to err on the side of caution," Hahn said, "even if it winds up costing him his first couple of starts because we're slowing down the schedule now by scratching him."

There’s been an awkward tension surrounding Rodon’s spring. The White Sox started him on a delayed schedule and tried to tie it to Chris Sale’s endurance-first program, but the beat writers didn’t seem to buy it. Hahn is saying that Rodon showed no ill effects from his first start or subsequent side session, so this could truly be a new and independent development.

While we wait for it to shake out, the most awkard spot of the White Sox roster is magnified.

The White Sox came into the spring short on obvious sixth starter candidates who weren’t top prospects with service-time concerns. As long as they wanted to insulate Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez from premature promotions — whether due to development or other circumstances — they didn’t have a pitcher who profiled as a credible stopgap over the first six weeks of the season.

The question came up on the South Side Sox Podcast a couple weeks ago, prompted by the persistent low-level Jose Quintana trade rumors. I couldn’t come up with a great internal candidate to plug a hole in the rotation, and wondered if the pitcher wasn’t in the organization yet. Previous extra starters like Hector Noesi and Anthony Ranaudo were in-season waiver-wire acquisitions, and there are similar uninspiring possibilities on the out-of-options list (Tommy Milone? A Padres reject?).

Hahn maintains that he doesn’t want to subject his best pitching prospects to a Konami Code lifestyle (my words, not his), which leaves a field of options who fail to thrill. Among the in-house replacements, Hahn floated three potential candidates, and they all have similar design flaws.

Dylan Covey: He has the inside track because he’s a Rule 5 pick who is already on the roster. Injuries limited him to fewer than 30 innings beyond A-ball entering this spring, which has been even uglier (10.13 ERA, 2.38 WHIP over eight innings). Nothing about his profile suggests he could be a sneaky success, but he might serve the purpose of human shield for a week, and low-leverage depth afterward for as long as the Sox want to try carrying him. He’ll start today against the Indians.

Tyler Danish: He’s had an OK spring statistically (7.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K), but that’s with a couple homers and some good batted-ball luck. He’s yielded more flyouts than groundouts, which is not supposed to be the case. Covey and Danish both rely on sink, and Covey’s showing more effectiveness in this particular area:

  • Covey: 16 groundouts, 2 flyouts, 0 homers
  • Danish: 8 groundouts, 9 flyouts, 2 homers

Considering Danish was mediocre at Birmingham and struggled at Charlotte before undergoing knee surgery, any MLB starts seem like a tall task.

David Holmberg: I was surprised to see him reassigned to minor-league camp in the first round of cuts considering he’s the only extra-starter candidate who 1) has started MLB games, and 2) is healthy enough to continue doing so (Cory Luebke doesn’t meet the latter). The White Sox’ former second-round pick hasn’t been effective in his big-league stints, going 3-6 with a 6.24 ERA and more walks than strikeouts over 14 games (12 starts). But he posted a 3.84 ERA over 169 innings between Birmingham and Charlotte last year, giving him that traditional AAAA starter feel. He’s not on the 40-man roster, though, so he might lose the game of musical chairs if the two vacancies are used to solve other roles (backup catcher, center fielder, second lefty).

This situation will get even uglier if the White Sox end up moving Quintana before his slated start on Opening Day, although the team can’t really be afraid to lose games in bunches at this juncture.

Over in New York, this Post story either helps show or sow the seeds of discontent with top outfield prospect Clint Frazier.

Reassigned to the minor league complex before Friday’s 3-2 win over the Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Frazier needs to mature mentally, get back the flexibility in his upper body which he lost by lifting too many weights during the winter, stop being seduced by the home run, keep control of that mop of red hair after hitting .228 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year in 25 games and develop a sense of understanding of where he is and for what team he plays.

The centerpiece of the July trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Indians, the 22-year-old outfielder has a lot of rough edges to smooth out before he is known for more than incredible bat speed and unruly hair. [...]

More than one talent evaluator suggested Frazier’s best value to the Yankees might be part of a deal that would land White Sox lefty Jose Quintana.