Left-hander Ross Detwiler might be pitching his way back into the White Sox starting rotation, a development nobody envisioned after the veteran left-hander posted a 6.59 ERA last season.
But with Reynaldo Lopez last week and Carlos Rodon Monday night going on the injured list with shoulder injuries, and Detwiler looking nothing like his 2019 version in five scoreless relief appearances with seven strikeouts and no walks, the 34-year-old who has pitched for seven teams has to be under consideration to join Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease and Gio Gonzalez in the Sox rotation.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Detwiler said of his willingness to start again. “Any time I can get the ball, great. Obviously I’ve been a starter most of my career, it’s what I’ve been used to. I’m going into a [relief] role that I’m very comfortable with, but 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. It’s been working for me.”
Rodon landed on the IL Monday, and right-hander Brady Lail, a reliever, was summoned from the Sox’ taxi squad in Schaumburg.
In the Sox’ 6-4 win over the Brewers Monday, their fifth straight win, Detwiler entered with two outs in the sixth inning and picked off Ben Gamel to end the inning. He struck out the two, four and five hitters in the Brewers lineup in what amounted to a four-out frame because of Brian McCann’s dropped third strike.
“One of the most odd appearances I’ve ever had,” Detwiler said.
Going in, Detwiler had faced the minimum 21 batters over seven scoreless innings, retiring the first 16 batters he faced, the longest season-opening streak by a Sox pitcher since Gary Glover (also 16) in 2001 (Elias).
Surgery on his right (landing) hip in October has “been a huge thing for me,” Detwiler said.
“It allows me to get over my front side. I get the ball down a little more. It’s a little more crisp at the end. I didn’t really have much of a sinker last year and that was my pitch in the past. It’s come back since I can kind of drive the ball down in the zone.”
A major league scout who followed the Sox last season and viewed most of the Sox games this year said Detwiler is getting it done by “pounding the zone, forcing contact and keeping the ball off the heart of the plate.”
Last year, Detwiler’s misses were over the plate, the scout said.
“He’s not flashy, he’s not going to blow you away but a veteran who knows how to pitch,” the scout said. “Even if he’s not pinpoint with his accuracy his misses are off the plate so he’s minimizing damage off the bat.”
The Sox also have Dane Dunning, who hasn’t pitched in the majors but is staying stretched out with the taxi squad in Schaumburg, as a rotation option. But Detwiler, who made 12 starts last season, might be the safer play. He owns a career 27-47 record with a 4.54 ERA.
“I would say you never take anything off the table and I’ll leave it at that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s a unique time right now.
“We’ve got to be flexible.”