SURPRISE, Ariz. — White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he has two choices for his Opening Day starter, and he can’t go wrong with either one.
Lucas Giolito has started the last two openers for the Sox, but Lance Lynn had the better year in 2021, also starting Game 1 of the ALDS.
“The criteria is you want to win the first game,” La Russa said. “Throw your best pitcher.”
“Is there amount of fairness, I don’t know. Just put it all together. The most important thing is that it could be either one, they’re pulling for each other and whoever gets it is ready to go and the other guy is [next].”
A day after Giolito threw three scoreless innings against the Brewers, Lynn gave up back to back homers to Corey Seager and Mitch Garver in a four-run first and, approaching 60 pitches, didn’t finish his three innings.
He allowed five hits, including another homer to Garver, walked none and struck out four.
As veterans usually do, Lynn downplayed the results of a first spring outing.
“A couple mistakes,” he said. “Pitches I have been working on were there for the most part. Stuff was there, so I can’t complain.”
Giolito and Dallas Keuchel both said Lynn is worthy of starting the opener April 8 in Detroit based on his performance last season, when he went 11-6 with a 2.69 ERA and was third in AL Cy Young voting.
“When you have multiple guys who have the ability to do that, that’s awesome,” Lynn said. “We have a deep staff. Whoever [La Russa] picks will be ready for it, but it’s still March. We’ll worry about that in April.”
La Russa likes the ghost-runner rule because it adds an element of “sudden death” and limits taxing bullpens.
“I think it’s a keeper,” he said. “It protects the organization’s arms. And you get to the 13th, 14th inning, who’s watching the game.”
It’s the same with 28-man rosters until May 1. He said he hopes teams won’t be limited to 14 pitchers.
“Sometimes you may need 15,” he said.
Cease, Kopech, 19 others strike deals
Nineteen pre-arbitration players, including Dylan Cease ($750,000) and Michael Kopech ($730,000), agreed to terms on 2022 contracts. Also: Pitchers Garrett Crochet, Matt Foster, Ryan Burr, Jason Bilous, Jimmy Lambert, José Ruiz, Anderson Severino, Bennett Sousa and Jonathan Stiever, catchers Zack Collins, Yermin Mercedes and Seby Zavala; infielders Jake Burger, Romy González, Danny Mendick and Gavin Sheets; outfielders Andrew Vaughn, Micker Adolfo and Blake Rutherford.
Outfielder Adam Engel ($2 million) and right-hander Reynaldo Lopez ($2.625 million) agreed to one-year contracts to avoid arbitration. Giolito is the only player on the 40-man roster who has not agreed to terms.