White Sox open series with Rangers against old friend Dane Dunning
Traded by White Sox in the offseason, Dunning enters Friday’s game with a 0.60 ERA over his first three starts.
There’s no way to avoid feeling jilted.
Yoan Moncada talked about it after the Red Sox traded him and Michael Kopech to the White Sox for Chris Sale in 2016. Eloy Jimenez had no bigger thrill than hitting a home run at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, who traded him to the Sox in 2017.
“It’s always good to prove to the team that traded you that they made a mistake,” Moncada said.
The Red Sox weren’t kicking Moncada and Kopech to the curb — they were trying to win a World Series by putting Sale in their starting rotation, and they did. It still has the look of a good trade for both teams. The Red Sox got their rings. The White Sox got a potential All-Star third baseman for years to come and a pitcher with a sky-high ceiling.
The White Sox’ same rebuilding mission also brought them right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning from the Nationals for Adam Eaton in a proven-player-for-prospects trade. The Nats got their World Series title in 2019. The Sox got an ace and an All-Star in Giolito; a big arm in Lopez, who made 81 starts before falling on trying times; and a former first-round pick in Dunning.
Dunning, who was traded to the Rangers this past offseason for Lance Lynn in a move the Sox hope will help them to the World Series, will take a 14-inning scoreless streak into his start against the Sox on Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Time will tell who won that Sox-Rangers trade. Lynn is a workhorse Cy Young vote-getter with one year on his contract, and Dunning’s future has never looked brighter.
Had Lynn not strained his trapezius in his previous start and gone on the injured list, he very well might be facing Dunning on Friday.
Dunning, who said he “is really looking forward” to facing the Sox, is 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA, 16 strikeouts and two walks in his first three starts covering 15 innings with his new team. So bring them on.
“Obviously I wasn’t planning on getting traded,” Dunning said. “Then things happen. Being able to compete, though, and hopefully show them that the Rangers made a really great decision on getting me, is a goal of mine. It’s a big goal of mine.”
In the deciding Game 3 of the wild-card series against the Athletics last season, the Sox didn’t trust Dylan Cease enough to start him, knowing his control problems leading to October were getting out of hand. So they turned to Dunning, who was 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA in seven starts. But the Sox didn’t trust Dunning enough to finish the first inning and turned it into a bullpen game — a disaster lowlighted by nine walks.
Since then, Cease made adjustments in the offseason under the watch of new pitching coach Ethan Katz and was very good in spring training, culminating with an 11-strikeout, no-walks performance in the Sox’ final Cactus League game. But he hasn’t maintained that level of command in the regular season, pitching 4 ⅔ innings in all three of his starts. He has walked nine batters while posting a respectable 3.86 ERA, allowing three, one and two earned runs in the three starts.
Cease, whose stuff — but not his command — is superior to Dunning’s, undoubtedly wants to show the Sox they made the right choice in dealing Dunning away and not him.
“It feels a little bit middle-of-the-road right now,” Cease said of 2021 work. “I definitely haven’t had what I would consider a dominant start by any means, so that’s what we’re always looking to have. It’s been OK. I expect more out of myself, for sure.”