On Wednesday, the Chicago White Sox took on the Detroit Tigers with an intriguing storyline playing out. Both White Sox pitcher Dane Dunning and Tigers pitcher Casey Mize made their Major League debuts. Both pitchers are former first-round picks that are poised to play big roles in the futures of their teams. One has had a much harder route to this moment.
Long Way To The Top
Originally selected by the Washington Nationals in 2016, Dunning came to Chicago along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in exchange for Adam Eaton. While Giolito and Lopez have seen multiple appearances on the big league roster since the trade, Dunning has been stashed in the minors. In 2018, he showed promise in both single and double-A ball, going 6-3 in 15 starts with 100 strikeouts and a 2.71 ERA. However, heading into 2019 Spring Training, Dunning experienced discomfort in his right forearm. The injury was serious enough to end his season and require Tommy John surgery.
Welcome To The Show
Fast forward to Wednesday: the White Sox added Dunning to the Major League club in a flurry of roster moves and tabbed him for his first career start. The former top-100 prospect was paired with his minor league catcher Zack Collins for the start. Working fast and hitting his spots early, Dunning recorded his first strikeout in the first inning by finishing Niko Goodrum on a high fastball.
Moving on to the second inning, Dunning reached 93 MPH with his fastball and 92 MPH with his sinker. The rookie struck out Victor Reyes on a high fastball and painted the corner with an impressive slider to put away Jorge Bonifacio. He then induced a Jacoby Jones grounder to end the inning. In the third, Dunning seemed to hit his stride. On just 12 pitches, he struck out the side by mixing in his sinker, slider, and knuckle curveball.
Working Out Of A Jam
The fourth inning is where the adrenaline appeared to wear off. In a 27-pitch inning, Dunning gave up two hits and had to work himself out of a scoring situation. With runners on second and third, Dunning finished the inning with a six-pitch strikeout of Bonifacio, once again relying on his slider. After allowing a single and a walk in the fifth, Dunning gave up his first career home run, a Jeimer Candelario three-run shot to right-center field. That home run would end the rookie’s promising debut, leaving many White Sox fans impressed with what they saw.
Big Praise From Abreu
One player who was a huge fan of Dane Dunning’s debut was first baseman Jose Abreu. When asked about the 25-year-old’s major league debut, Abreu had this to say:
“That was why I said last year that if the White Sox didn’t sign me, I would sign here either way. You see all the talent that we have and you see those guys and what they are doing. We are an inch closer to being a really, really good and competitive team. It’s a good time for us to do what we are doing right now.”– Jose Abreu on Dane Dunning
Dunning also chimed in about his first start, praising his teammates and looking ahead:
“We have a lot of talent that’s been coming up through the minor leagues, and I’ve been fortunate to play with them all through the minor leagues, but seeing them compete out here, it’s awesome. I’ve been able to see them dominate at the lower levels, and now they’re dominating at the big league level.”– Dane Dunning on his Major League debut
On the night, Dane Dunning finished with 4.1 innings pitched, three earned runs, and seven strikeouts. It’s uncertain if Dunning will be a long-term answer in the rotation this season or if the team will continue to implement a pitch count, but Wednesday gave fans a sneak peak of the future.