On Tuesday afternoon, White Sox manager Tony La Russa met with the media prior to the team's final Spring Training matchup with the San Diego Padres. While La Russa already laid out his first three starting pitchers for the opening series set to take place in Detroit starting this Friday, no news has followed as to who will be taking the hill when the team returns to 35th & Shields.
According to La Russa, veteran lefty Dallas Kuechel will slot in as the teams' fifth starter and take the mound on Wednesday. With Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, and Michael Kopech slated to pitch during the opening series, and Lance Lynn on the shelf, that leaves La Russa and the White Sox at this very moment without a clear-cut home opening starter. While the White Sox just signed veteran pitcher Johnny Cueto late on Monday night, it has been reported he will report to Triple-A Charlotte to get some work in before joining the big league club. That leaves the current options to fill that spot at the moment to Reynaldo Lopez and offseason free agent acquisition, Vincent Velazquez.
Reynaldo Lopez figures to be one of the top choices to take the ball when the Sox start the home portion of the 2022 campaign. The right-hander has been up and down with the White Sox since the 2017 season and started nine games for the White Sox in 2021. While also appearing in an additional 11 games as a relief pitcher last year, Lopez's versatility affords the White Sox some room to work here in this tough spot.
Lopez has had himself a rather rough spring. He holds an 8.02 ERA over 6.2 innings of work while striking out just four hitters. With that said, Lopez would be the familiar option for the White Sox and has stated he would be ready to go five innings.
The White Sox acquired Velazquez on March 13 just after the MLB lockout ended. At the time of the signing, Velazquez figured to be either a Triple-A depth piece or used exactly in a scenario like this. The 29-year-old righty has shown flashes throughout his career of tantalizing stuff. However, he has largely struggled to solidify himself as a mainstay rotation piece and has never held a sub 4.00 ERA during his seven years in the big leagues. Velazquez was traded from the Phillies to the Padres at the deadline during the 2021 season and struggled mightily over his four starts for San Diego.
Since signing with the club, Velazquez threw 8.2 innings for the White Sox this spring. In that time, the righty holds a 7.27 ERA with 10 K's and five walks in Cactus League play.