White Sox's staff still trying to find its way to top form

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(670 The Score) The White Sox haven’t looked like the class of the AL Central like they were billed as, and part of the reason is because their starting rotation that was a huge strength in 2021 hasn’t been as productive.

Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease are each having terrific seasons, but the White Sox haven’t gotten enough consistency from their other rotation spots. Entering play Friday, White Sox starters had combined for a 4.14 ERA this season, a mark that ranked 18th in MLB. They ranked fourth in 2021.

After finishing third in the American League Cy Young voting last season, Lance Lynn is just rounding into shape as he has made two starts after missing more than two months following knee surgery. He has a 5.79 ERA in just 9 1/3 innings.

Lucas Giolito has been barreled up early and often lately, with a 9.47 ERA in his past five starts. He has a 5.40 ERA for the season. The struggles have come as he has gotten healthy after having an abdominal strain earlier in the season.

“I am not one to make excuses,” Giolito said. “I refuse to excuse myself for how I have been performing. It’s always a possibility when you face certain teams they may have a tell on you. I am a firm believer that even if the team knows what pitch might be coming, you can attack the strike zone and get ahead by executing those pitches. Even if they know, you can still be really hard to hit. I have not been doing that.”

The White Sox also let the talented Carlos Rodon walk to the Giants in free agency, so they’re down another All-Star performer.

The No. 5 spot in the team’s rotation was also a mess when Dallas Keuchel filled it. He had a 7.88 ERA in eight starts before the White Sox designated him for assignment in late May. Johnny Cueto (3.19 ERA in eight appearances) has done yeomen’s work in replacing Keuchel, but Keuchel’s early struggles were a factor in the White Sox currently sitting at 33-35. The White Sox were 3-5 in Keuchel’s starts and often had their bullpen taxed.

Despite the uneven production from the rotation, White Sox manager Tony La Russa cited it as having the “potential to be our strength.” Giolito believes the staff’s best days are ahead too.

“If I can clean things up in my game, I think we can be in a really strong spot,” Giolito said. “I don't see why we should back away from having high expectations. We should be able to compete and feed off each other's positive energy. Last year, we had some injuries and fatigue at the end of the season. I think collectively we learned our lesson. It will be hugely important we keep grinding and do everything we can to stay in a good lane as we move through the entirety of the season.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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