KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn are on the injured list. Carlos Rodon has been limited to five innings and 67 and 77 pitches in his two starts since coming off it.
With October only four or five turns in the rotation away, it’s not the most assuring way to begin September.
Ideally, every starter would be at 100% right now, but the reality for the White Sox is the big three in a rotation that is their strength are not up and running at full speed. The good thing is, there’s enough time to get well. And in the case of Giolito and Lynn, their arms are not the issue.
Giolito landed on the 10-day injured list Friday, retroactive to Wednesday, with a strained left hamstring. Missing at least one start because of the injury was a certainty, so the IL move was not unexpected. Lynn (right knee) will miss his regular turn Saturday and maybe no more. Lynn said he doesn’t want to miss more than one at the risk of setting back his arm buildup.
The other parts of the rotation are at 100%. Dallas Keuchel was the scheduled starter in rainy Kansas City on Friday. And Dylan Cease (11-6, 3.82 ERA), who starts Sunday, says his arm feels good as he pushes past his career high for innings pitched. Cease, who had maxed out at 141⅓ innings between Charlotte and the Sox in 2019, is at 143⅔ and counting.
Navigation of workloads is uncharted territory in 2021, coming off the abbreviated 60-game season in 2020.
“More grueling, yeah, probably,” Giolito said. “It’s a bit of a challenge. I thought that I was doing great, feeling strong, and unfortunately a little thing happens with me. We’ve had those little things happen with a lot of our guys, and obviously we had some big ones early in the year, as well. But going through these kinds of things, whether it be injuries or a slump or whatever, at the end of the day, it only makes us stronger.”
Not that Giolito (9-9, 3.69 ERA) wanted this. But the feeling is that everything will be well with him and All-Stars Lynn (10-4, 2.51) and Rodon (11-5, 2.41) when it really matters in October.
“I feel like I’m going to be good,” Giolito said. “I know Lance is moving along pretty nicely. He just needs to clear up what he’s got going on. Carlos got a little break, and he’s feeling good now. We just have our little buildup here the last month, and then we’re all ready to go.”
Giolito, who strained the hamstring in his start against the Pirates this past Wednesday, is slated to throw a bullpen session Wednesday in Oakland, “the big test” as he put it. But even if he passes with flying colors, he won’t be rushed back.
“He’s saying it’s going to be one start, but we’ve got to be certain because if we rush him back and he gets hurt, that’s the worst consequence,” manager Tony La Russa said.
La Russa is not taking the 9½-game lead his team held over the Indians in the American League Central for granted. He wants his team to play better defense, run the bases better and execute in all phases this month. They can focus on those things, with or without the rotation at full strength.
“If Lucas and Lynn were taking their regular turns, then I would be more optimistic,” La Russa said. “We’re playing Kansas City this weekend -— they’ve played us tough [6-6 going in] — then Oakland, Boston and [the Angels].
“We need to win every game we can, build that win total and hopefully cash our ticket for October. At the same time, add to it that we’ve got to get better before October, then getting better [health-wise] and playing better. It may go together. . . . Let’s keep playing hard, let’s chase wins and let’s keep getting better.”
And get healthy.