When it comes to next season’s starting rotation, you can write down Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease in ink. They are in.
Reynaldo Lopez? Add his name to the list, but do it with a pencil.
There is no question Lopez has a big-time arm and is viewed as part of the White Sox’s bright future.
But while young talents like Giolito, Cease, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez took step forwards this year, Lopez drifted backward.
Making his final start of the season Saturday in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Tigers, Lopez at least went out on a high note in the Sox’s 7-1 win.
Entering the game with the highest ERA (5.57) in the major leagues, Lopez pitched 8 innings and allowed 1 run on 5 hits. He also had 9 strikeouts.
“To finish the season with a good outing is something good, even though this season was kind of rough,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s important because you can carry this good feeling to the offseason and work on that for next season.”
Game 1 Saturday was Lopez’s 15th quality start of the season, and he finished the year with 169 strikeouts in 184 innings.
“Today was a great finish and beginning at the same time going into the offseason and getting ready for the upcoming year,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It was nice to see him come back and do what he did. We’re very optimistic as to what he is for us moving forward.”
Even with Michael Kopech due back from Tommy John surgery in 2020, the White Sox are likely to add two veteran starters this offseason. What does the mean for Lopez?
“As we sit here right now, we continue to remain very bullish on Reynaldo Lopez in the rotation,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “He’s got the stuff, he’s got the ability. We just need to see more consistency.”
Lopez had a miserable first half, going 4-8 with a 6.34 ERA. The 25-year-old righty came out of the all-star break strong, allowing only 9 earned runs in 39 innings over a six-start stretch, but that was followed by an up-and-down finish to the season.
“He’s still a young kid and there’s still going to be development at the big-league level,” Hahn said. “We’ve talked about this for years, that unfortunately it’s not always linear. Sometimes these guys don’t climb progressively with each and every start or each and every month. There are setbacks and there needs to be adjustments, not just from the mechanical side, which is probably what plagued Lopey more than anything in the first half, but sometimes from the approach and preparation side. He’s learning.”
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