4 Chicago White Sox pitchers that need to step up while Lance Lynn is out

The Chicago White Sox will be without ace pitcher Lance Lynn for at least eight weeks. Lynn needs surgery to repair a slight tendon tear in his right knee.

That means the Sox will be without one of their aces for the season’s first two months. Lynn was outstanding last season after being acquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers. He posted an 11-6 record with a 2.69 ERA in 2021.

The Chicago White Sox missed out on a chance to acquire lefty Sean Manaea from the Oakland A’s. The A’s decided to trade Manaea to the San Diego Padres over the White Sox.

The Sox did sign veteran hurler Johnny Cueto to a minor league deal.

He will not be ready for Major League innings until at least the end of the month. Early May is probably more realistic. Plus, the White Sox are getting the 36-year-old version of Cueto and not the dominant force he once was six years ago.

Unless Chicago White Sox general manager Rich Hahn makes a last-minute trade before Opening Day to add an impact starter, the Sox will need these four pitchers to step up to cover the loss of Lynn.

1

Dylan Cease

Cease had a solid 2021 season. He went 13-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 165 and two-thirds innings pitched. It was the most innings Cease pitched in his career.

His stuff is good enough to win a Cy Young.

He will need to pitch up to that potential to get the Chicago White Sox through Lynn’s absence.

Fangraphs is projecting he will post a 3.97 ERA, 3.95 FIP, and 3.1 wins above replacement. One of the Fangraphs projections thinks Cease will pitch 173 innings.

Cease needs to have better command as when he gets rocked, it is typically because he is walking batters.

Also, he will need to beat better teams this year. Last season, 12 of his 13 wins came against teams that were nowhere near playoff contention.

2

Michael Kopech

Kopech is moving to the starting rotation full time–although he will be on an innings limit. Kopech was great out of the bullpen along with some good spot starts last season.

Kopech now needs to live up to the hype when the Chicago White Sox acquired him. He has always been projected to be a great starting pitcher with the pitches in his arsenal. He has had injuries or the pandemic derail him from living up to the prophecy of his greatness.

He can start making his march towards Cooperstown by having a great start to the season. Fangraphs projects he will start 21 games this season, post a 3.80 ERA, 3.78 FIP, and a 2.5 WAR.

3

Reynaldo López

López had a bounce-back season in 2021 after struggling through his first four seasons in the Majors. He pitched mostly out of the bullpen, but he had some nice spot starts last season.

He will be relied on to make some starts while Lynn is on the injured list. He needs to be the pitcher we saw in 2021 where he was getting outs and not giving up runs in bunches as he did in 2017-2020.

López does not need to dominate on the mound. He just needs to eat innings and keep the Chicago White Sox in the game. If he can do that, the White Sox are going to be in good shape.

4

Vince Velasquez

The Chicago White Sox are hoping Dallas Keuchel can have a bounce-back season after his awful 2021. If he fails, Velasquez may be called on to replace Keuchel in the rotation.

Even if Keuchel does pitch well, the White Sox will need Velasquez to be effective out of the bullpen in long relief. Sox starters probably will not be eating a ton of innings to begin the season as they continue to get their arms stretched out because of the truncated Spring Training.

López probably would have been counted on to be the primary long reliever. López now needs to move to the starting rotation with Lynn on the injured list. Therefore, Velasquez will be counted on to eat up some innings.

Velasquez has always had great potential but he has never realized it in the Majors. The Sox are hoping a change of scenery will reset his career. If he can command his fastball, he has a shot of not getting lit up on the mound. When he cannot command his pitches, it is not pretty out there.