Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chris Sale Seems Destined To Become A Starter


As we've all no doubt heard by now, Kenny Williams told Peter Gammons that the kids will play next season. Of course, what exactly that means, isn't totally clear.

Odds are that since the White Sox don't exactly have a stockpile of young talent waiting in the wings, Kenny is talking about guys like Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza, Tyler Flowers, Brent Morel, Addison Reed and Chris Sale. Which means that there will still be plenty of veterans present on the roster next season.

It also means that I wouldn't expect the White Sox to make much of a splash in the free agent market.

Personally, I'm all for the kids getting more of a chance next year. Though if Viciedo is going to get regular playing time, that means either Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios will have to go, and we all know which one is the most likely to be moved.

As for Chris Sale, we all know how important he was to the bullpen this year, but in a talk with Scott Merkin on Monday, Williams made it sound like Sale will in fact be filling a different role next season.

"He'll be moved to the rotation, or he will be given every opportunity [to be] in the rotation," Williams told Merkin.

"We used him initially out of the bullpen to get his feet wet in the Majors. In 2010, we were contending and wanted to win. We thought using him out of the bullpen would help our chances. In 2011, we thought having Chris in the bullpen would give us the same chance to win or a better chance to win."

Now, as I've said before, I do worry about moving Sale to the rotation for different reasons. One is that I'm just not sure if Sale can be as effective as a starter, or if his arm can hold up throwing that many innings. The most innings Sale has ever thrown was 103 in 2010 during his senior year in college. Add the 33.2 innings he pitched in the minors and with the Sox that season, and that's 136.2 innings of work.

As a starter we'll need Sale to work a lot more innings than that.

I also worry about filling Sale's role in the bullpen, though it's not exactly crazy to think that Addison Reed could step right in and fill that role. Yes, Reed is a righty, but if Matt Thornton can bounce back in 2012 after stepping back into the setup role he seems so much more comfortable with, then it might work.

At the end of the day, if Sale can perform as a starter, even if he's only a #3 or a #4 caliber starter, that's still more valuable to the team than a setup guy in the bullpen.

Of course, what I haven't mentioned yet is that if Kenny is so dead set on giving Sale every chance to join the starting rotation next year, that doesn't exactly bode well for the prospects of Mark Buehrle coming back.

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