The White Sox will promote right-hander Dane Dunning to make his MLB debut for Wednesday’s game against the Tigers, manager Rick Renteria announced after last night’s game (Twitter link via James Fegan of The Athletic). General manager Rick Hahn strongly implied as much earlier this week. It’ll make for an exciting pitching matchup that provides a glimpse into the future for both clubs. The Tigers will throw 2018 No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize for the first time this afternoon.
Dunning, 25, doesn’t draw the same prospect fanfare as Mize, but he’s a highly touted righty himself who has long been considered a top prospect. Selected by the Nationals with the No. 29 overall pick back in 2016, Dunning found himself on the move to the White Sox (alongside Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez) in the trade that shipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals. That trade came just a day after the ChiSox sent Chris Sale to the Red Sox in exchange for a package headlined by Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech at the ’16 Winter Meetings, effectively marking the point of no return in Chicago’s arduous rebuilding process.
Now, with Moncada taking a starring role and numerous other promising young talents bubbling up to the Majors, the rebuild is coming full circle. Dunning becomes the latest reinforcement to join the fray. He hasn’t pitched in a regular-season game since 2018 due to Tommy John surgery, but prior to going under the knife, he was a top-100 caliber talent himself. The former Florida Gator has pitched in parts of three professional seasons (not including his work in intrasquad games at Chicago’s alternate site this year) and compiled an excellent 2.74 ERA with 10.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 in 266 frames.
Dunning has yet to pitch in Triple-A thanks to the absence of a minor league season in 2020, but he topped out as a 23-year-old in Double-A back in ’18 and more than held his own: 62 innings with a 2.76 ERA and an even better 2.40 FIP. Dunning routinely generates big ground-ball numbers, misses bats and demonstrates above-average control. He doesn’t have the type of power arsenal that leads scouts to project him as a front-of-the-rotation presence, but a healthy Dunning could be a third or fourth starter for the ChiSox down the road.
For the time being, Dunning will step into a starting staff that is currently without the aforementioned Lopez (shoulder strain) and lefty Carlos Rodon (shoulder soreness). Given Lopez’s struggles as a starter, Rodon’s durability issues and the fact that Gio Gonzalez is on a one-year deal, there’s ample opportunity for Dunning to work his way into the long-term rotation outlook — beginning today. If he’s in the big leagues for good, Dunning has likely spent enough time in the minors this year that the White Sox have avoided Super Two status. He can’t accrue a full year of service at this point, either, so the White Sox could control him through at least the 2026 season.