If Humber loses his spot, who should take it?

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If Humber loses his spot, who should take it?

After allowing six runs (five earned) in 5 13 innings on Sunday, Philip Humber's stats since his April 21 perfect game read like a script to a slasher movie: 48 IP, 7.50 ERA, 26 BB, 43 K, 12 HR and an opponent slash line of .280.372.523, an .896 OPS. Essentially, Humber has faced nothing but Prince Fielders, who enters Monday with an .895 OPS.

Humber is officially on notice after Robin Ventura intimated there was an ongoing discussion about the righty's future role. It could be in the bullpen, or it could be in the starting rotation -- but that's something the Sox will decide after Humber's next start, which will come this weekend in Los Angeles.

John Danks will make his first minor-league rehab start tomorrow. He may need one more, which would buy the White Sox some time to make a decision on what their roster will look like when Danks returns.

Here's the dilemma the Sox are facing: Keep Humber and send Jose Quintana back to Triple-A, or keep Quintana in the rotation, send Humber to the bullpen and demote someone to Triple-A (long-relievermop-up man Zach Stewart would be the likely candidate). The White Sox also could send Quintana to Charlotte and call up Dylan Axelrod, who's made one start this season and has been outstanding in 10 Triple-A starts.

But Quintana has had fantastic results in 22 innings spanning three starts and two relief appearances. He owns a 2.05 ERA and hasn't looked intimidated on the mound, impressive for someone who still has yet to throw an inning in Triple-A.

By the numbers, though, Quintana's early success may not be sustainable. Opponents have a batting average on balls in play of .200 against him, and his FIP -- a good predictor of future ERA -- sits at 4.14. Of course, 22 innings is hardly a large enough sample size, but the wasn't a book on Quintana when he was called up.

Unlike Axelrod, Quintana was relatively or completely unknown by most in the major leagues. But Quintana has faced Cleveland twice and succeeded in both outings. He did a fine job against Tampa Bay before Mark Wegner booted him for throwing behind Ben Zobrist. He's yet to have bad results when he's taken the mound.

It's been easy to forget Quintana is just 23 in his three starts -- he was born 15 days after Nestor Molina, who probably isn't an option for the majors at this point. But Quintana still has some things he needs to work on -- mainly, developing his tertiary offerings -- that most every young pitcher does in Triple-A. As it stands, Quintana has thrown about 70 percent fastballs and 19 percent sliders, opting for a slow curveball 9 percent of the time and a changeup 2 percent of the time.

That changeup is the pitch the Sox probably want to see Quintana develop. He throws it at an average velocity of 85 mph, only about 4 mph slower than his fastball. It's a pitch that could use some work, and it'd be more beneficial for Quintana to work on it in Charlotte than Chicago.

The best-case scenario is for Humber to work through his struggles, throw a good game against Los Angeles and keep his rotation spot. That would allow Quintana to continue to develop in Charlotte and give the Sox multiple reserves (him and Axelrod) ready to join the majors if need be.

But if Humber does need to go to the bullpen, the Sox wouldn't be wrong to try to ride Quintana's success as long as they can while hoping Humber finds himself working in relief. It's unlikely a move to the bullpen would be permanent for Humber, only lasting until he starts to see better results. When that happens, unless Quintana is doing his best Chris Sale impression, he'll probably board a plane back to Charlotte.

And don't forget about Axelrod in all of this -- if Humber needs more time in the bullpen and Quintana needs more development in the minors, he'd be a viable option to fill in.

This is a debate, though, that Humber can render moot. It'll start with a good side session in St. Louis, and then a solid outing in Los Angeles would do the trick. Quintana will face St. Louis on Tuesday, and how he handles that test will certainly play into this as well.

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If Carlos Rodon starts on the disabled list as expected, the White Sox won't turn to any of their vaunted top prospects in the interim.

The news on Rodon has been encouraging so far as no structural damage has been discovered. Still, the White Sox won't clear Rodon until after he receives a second opinion on Monday. While the length of Rodon's absence won't be determined for several days, the White Sox are certain of one route they won't take — they don't want to disrupt the development of their young starting pitchers. Were a DL trip for Rodon necessary, the White Sox would likely select either Saturday's starter, Dylan Covey, or minor leaguer David Holmberg over their top prospects. Covey made a strong impression on Saturday afternoon with 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched and the White Sox rallied for a 10-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

"When you have an opportunity to stabilize action or movement for players it serves them better," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "They get a little more comfortable where they're at. They get comfortable with the staffs they're working with and the information they're gathering, being in a routine. It is a little disruptive going from team to team to team. It happens, but it's not the most conducive (to learning)."

The White Sox are all about development this season. Therefore, they have no plans to call upon Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer or Michael Kopech unless they're A) ready and B) throwing every fifth day in Chicago. Renteria's comments Saturday reiterated Rick Hahn's earlier message, saying the club doesn't want to disrupt the development path.

That puts Covey, a Rule 5 draft pick in December, with a decent opportunity to make the club out of camp. Covey commanded the strike zone on Saturday only hours after Renteria said he hoped to see the young right-hander replicate an Arizona Fall League performance that initially warmed the White Sox up to him.

Aside from a two-out walk in his final inning, Covey was sharp the whole way. He allowed three hits and struck out three.

"My last couple of outings I was definitely feeling the stress," Covey said. "I was kind of pitching a little passive, pitching to not make a mistake instead of just going right after guys. So today and yesterday I just thought I'm just going to throw every pitch with conviction and see what happens. I got a lot of weak contact today and some swings and misses, so I felt good."

Covey threw 44 pitches, 27 for strikes. He potentially could stay in Arizona on Thursday and make an additional minor league start to build arm strength, which would get him to roughly 60 pitches before the regular seasons started.

The White Sox don't officially need a fifth starter until April 9 and they're off the following day. That break could allow the White Sox to start Covey as part of a bullpen day. Covey said he recently changed his mindset after lackluster results in relief this spring. The right-hander has a 6.94 ERA this spring in 11 2/3 innings.

"Obviously my last two outings out of the pen I wasn't getting crushed, but I just wasn't commanding the ball or commanding the count as much as I would like to be," Covey said. "The mistakes get hit a little harder when you're falling behind in the count. Today I wanted to have the mindset of attacking hitters, throwing everything down in the zone and going right after them, and it worked out."

The White Sox blasted six home runs in the contest, including a majestic, go-ahead grand slam by first baseman Danny Hayes in the top of the ninth inning. Hayes is hitting .351/.400/.595 with two homers and is tied for the team lead with 13 RBIs this spring. Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico, Cody Asche, Everth Cabrera and Jacob May also homered for the White Sox. 

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While he still has a second opinion ahead and is likely to start 2017 on the disabled list, a clean MRI has Carlos Rodon feeling relieved after a bizarre Thursday.

The White Sox pitcher described Saturday the strange experience he’s had the past few days dealing with soreness in his left bicep.

In the span of 48 hours, Rodon -- who will receive a second opinion on Monday -- went from feeling good enough after a midweek bullpen session to request that his first start be moved up to likely landing on the DL. As he prepares to navigate the rehab process, Rodon is more at ease after an MRI on Friday showed no structural damage.

“(Thursday) was a weird day for me,” Rodon said. “I wasn’t very happy with it. I got that checked out, trying to figure it out.

“I feel better. It’s reassuring.”

“(Your arm is) your tool. It’s concerning. But that’s why you go get those things checked out and make sure everything is ok. That’s what we did.”

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Rodon, who went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 165 innings in 2016, has one more checkup before he’s all clear. He travels to Los Angeles on Monday for an appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that a second opinion is “protocol.”

Though he has already been reassured -- the club’s diagnosis was he had no structural issues after a physical exam and then the clean MRI -- Rodon wouldn’t mind more confirmation. The left-hander said he hadn’t experienced the kind of tightness he suddenly felt in his biceps tendon before Thursday. He could lift his arm above his head, but Rodon said his stuff wasn’t the same. After he informed them, the White Sox determined to be cautious.

“It’s pretty tight up there,” Rodon said. “I’ve never really been that tight. I couldn’t really step on some balls I wanted to throw to get that arm going. So, I had to get it checked out. It didn’t feel too good.”

The White Sox already had Rodon on a delayed schedule where he needed to hit every mark to be ready for the regular season. They did so in hopes of helping him avoid the fatigue he experienced last summer and also reaching the 200-inning mark this season. Now it appears Rodon will begin the season on the DL, according to Hahn.

Though he’d like to start the season on schedule, Rodon wants to make sure he’s physically good to go.

“Just trying to be healthy man,” Rodon said. “You don’t want to go the start of the season and be behind the best guys. You are a tick down from the best guys in the world. It’s not fun pitching when you are not feeling too good. I want to be 100 percent when I’m out there. That gives our team the best chance of winning.”