The Chicago White Sox are right in the thick of a three-headed teeth-clenching battle for the AL Central division lead. Their 28-16 record – good for a .636 winning percentage – not only has them on pace for 103 wins over a full 162-game season, but it places them a game ahead of the Twins for the division crown with a 2 1/2 game cushion over the Indians.
When it became clear that Luis Robert would start the season with the big league club, expectations rose for the southsiders, but few expected them to make a run for the division lead. Robert, as the brightest star in a shimmering youth movement, has done his part to rise the club’s profile and competitive level with a triple slash of .260/.324/.526 with stellar and eye-catching defense in center.
But beyond the youth movement, Chicago has enjoyed relatively sound health this season from their core producers. Dallas Keuchel’s back issues have put a bit of a damper of that storyline, but he’s hoping to return to start Thursday’s game. Carlos Rodón, however, has been a perennial injured list denizen since making his big-league debut in 2015. The 27-year-old made it back to the bump for two rusty outings early this season before returning to the training room with shoulder soreness. Soreness in his back and ribcage area has kept him out further, but he’s nearing full health.
Rodón plans to throw off a mound as early as Monday in the hopes of returning to the active roster this season, per The Athletic’s James Fegan (via Twitter). This late in the season, especially after such a prolonged absence, means that Rodón is unlikely to reclaim a spot in the rotation. Lucas Giolito has his rotation spot on lock, and Keuchel will be right behind him if he can stay healthy. Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning, Gio Gonzalez, and Reynaldo Lopez are all auditioning to make the playoff rotation. There may be space for Rodón in the bullpen, however.
Manager Rick Renteria may soon have a couple more southpaws at his disposal. After establishing himself as one of the premier worm killers in the game last season, Aaron Bummer has made just 7 appearances this season – strong as they may be. Bummer holds a 1.23 ERA/1.55 FIP over 7 1/3 innings with an absurd 78.6% groundball percentage. It’s a small sample but Bummer also struck out 12 batters in that span, good for 14.73 K/9. Bummer has twice been placed on the injured list with a left biceps strain, but his recovery remains on track. If all continues as planned, Bummer should be able to join the team in time for their final road trip that takes them through the state of Ohio for series with the Reds and Indians, per MLB.com’s Scott Merkin (via Twitter).