HomeMLB RumorsWhite Sox Name Garrett Crochet Opening Day Starter

White Sox Name Garrett Crochet Opening Day Starter

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White Sox left-hander Garrett Crochet came into 2024 looking to make the move from the bullpen to the rotation. Not only will he break camp as a starter, but the Sox announced that Crochet will take the ball on Opening Day.

Crochet, 25 in June, has taken an unusual and winding road to get here. He served mostly in a swing role at the University of Tennessee, logging 63 2/3 innings in 2018 across 17 outings, six of which were starts. The following year, he threw 65 frames over 18 outings, six of which were starts. In 2020, he was slowed by some arm soreness and made just one start of 3 1/3 innings before the season was shut down by the Covid pandemic.

Despite the fairly limited workload, Crochet was hitting 100 miles per hour with his fastball with a strong slider and changeup to match. The Sox believed in him enough that they nabbed him in the first round, 11th overall, in the 2020 draft. They didn’t hesitate to push him to the majors, as he was up with the Sox by the middle of September that year, debuting at the age of 21. He tossed six innings out of the Chicago bullpen and then another 2/3 of an inning in the postseason, all scoreless, though he was shut down in the playoffs with some forearm tightness.

In 2021, he got to make a more proper major league debut, though stayed in the bullpen all year. He tossed 54 1/3 innings with a 2.82 earned run average. His 11.7% walk rate was a bit high but he also struck out 28.3% of batters faced. He added another 2 1/3 innings in the playoffs. There were some rumblings about moving him to the rotation going into 2022 but it became something of a moot point when the lefty required Tommy John surgery in April of 2022, wiping out that entire season for him.

Crochet returned to the club in May of 2023 and was kept in relief, understandable given his long layoff. He made 10 appearances before landing on the injured list in mid-June due to some shoulder inflammation. He stayed on the shelf for three months, returning in the middle of September to make three more appearances. He finished the year with a 3.55 ERA in 12 2/3 innings.

Throughout all of those twists and turns, Crochet maintained he wanted to try his hand at a rotation job someday. The Sox let him get stretched out here in spring and he has responded well, having tossed nine official innings, all scoreless. He struck out 12 batters without walking any, allowing seven hits. It seems he has impressed the Chicago brass enough that they will give him the ball on Opening Day, when he will make his first major league start. Per Sarah Langs of MLB.com, this will be just the ninth time in the past 110 years that a pitcher makes his first career start on Opening Day, just the third in the past 80 years and just the second in the past 43 years.

That’s at least partially a reflection of the rotation situation for the White Sox. They recently traded Dylan Cease, who was previously in line to be the club’s Opening Day starter, to the Padres. That was the latest in a series of moves that subtracted from the club’s starting depth. Both Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn were traded at last year’s deadline when they were impending free agents, while Mike Clevinger stayed through the 2023 campaign but eventually departed via free agency. Michael Kopech, who started 27 games for the Sox, was recently moved to the bullpen after a frustrating season.

That leaves Crochet in a rotation mix that will also include some offseason pickups. Erick Fedde was signed to a two-year deal after a strong season in the KBO. Chris Flexen got a one-year deal as the Sox hope for a bounceback after he had poor results in 2023. Michael Soroka was acquired from Atlanta in the trade that sent Aaron Bummer the other way.

That leaves one spot open for someone else. Nick Nastrini, acquired in the Lynn trade, has had an impressive spring. He’s allowed just one earned run in 11 innings but isn’t yet on the 40-man roster. Jake Eder is on the roster but has been slowed by shoulder soreness and hasn’t thrown in an official spring game. Jairo Iriarte also has a roster spot but he was reassigned to minor league camp by the Padres before coming over to the Sox in the Cease trade. Jared Shuster is also on the roster but was optioned by the Sox yesterday.

The Sox also have veterans like Chad Kuhl, Brad Keller and Jake Woodford in camp as non-roster invitees but could also look outside the organization for help. While they won’t be splurging on someone like Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, they were recently linked to free agent Michael Lorenzen and the open market still features guys like Clevinger, Noah Syndergaard, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke and others.

However it looks on Opening Day, it will likely change throughout the year. Soroka and Flexen are both impending free agents, making them candidates to be on the trading block this summer while the Sox are expected to be out of contention. The same could be true of Fedde, who will have a year and a half left on his deal a few months from now.

Crochet, meanwhile, will surely hit a workload limit at some point. Thanks to his injuries and working out of the bullpen, he has just 73 innings of major league experience. Since he was hurried to the majors after being drafted in 2020 when the minor leagues were cancelled, he’s hardly thrown on the farm either. His 12 1/3 innings while on rehab assignments last year are the totality of his minor league experience.

His time with Tennessee amounted to just 132 innings over three years. When combining that with his major and minor league work, it adds up to just 217 1/3 innings over the past six years. Tacking on his three playoff innings gets him to 220 1/3. That includes just 25 innings last year between the majors and minors and none the year before. That will make it essentially impossible for him to shoulder a full starter’s workload here in 2024, so the Sox will presumably have to make a decision about shutting it down at some point, with an eye on Crochet then pushing further in 2025.

Despite that lack of workload, Crochet has over three years of service time and avoided arbitration by agreeing to a salary of $800K for 2024. He’ll slated for two more arbitration seasons and would hit free agency after 2026 if he’s not optioned to the minors for an extended stretch of time between now and then. The lefty has been clear that moving to the rotation is a personal goal of his but he will also be in line for larger earnings if he makes the transition successfully. Assuming he does indeed reach the open market after 2026, he’ll be entering his age-28 season in 2027.

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