Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate CHGO Sports Community!

White Sox finally have a win, and in Garrett Crochet, might they have an ace, too?

Vinnie Duber Avatar
April 3, 2024
Garrett Crochet

When they left Arizona, the White Sox probably didn’t think they’d open the season on a four-game winless streak.

But after trading Dylan Cease toward the end of spring training, they probably didn’t think they had a staff ace, either.

It turns out both have come true.

After four consecutive losses to start a regular season they promised would be different, the White Sox finally found the win column Tuesday night. And with the victory powered by the second gem in as many career starts by Garrett Crochet, the team might start really liking its chances every fifth day.

When the White Sox amassed in the desert in mid February, we didn’t know if Crochet would even make the rotation. But the same confidence and conviction he carried into his quest to make the leap from reliever to starter has helped him to two stellar outings in the opening week of the campaign.

Tuesday, Crochet followed up his six innings of one-run ball in his surprise Opening Day start against the Tigers with seven innings of one-run ball against the Braves, a team that boasts one of the best lineups in baseball. Of course, nothing is seeming to faze Crochet, who among his eight strikeouts on the night tallied a pair against reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr.

But as impressed as everyone watching has been by the results, Crochet isn’t really acting like this is anything but business as usual for him.

“Results-wise, I’m not too concerned,” Crochet said. “I’m more concerned with my strike percentage and stuff like that. When I’m competing in the zone and having good results, I suppose it does boost the confidence.”

He supposes.

The biggest reason for so many questions about whether the White Sox’ experiment with Crochet would work – and to be fair, just two games into a long season, those questions still remain – was that he had so few innings under his belt. Prior to Opening Day, he’d totaled just 73 innings at the major league level, all in relief. COVID’s impact in 2020 meant he logged just one start in his final year at the University of Tennessee, and there were no minor league games for him to pitch in after he was drafted that summer, with the White Sox moving him straight to the big leagues as a fireballing relief weapon, where he stayed prior to requiring Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2022.

When talking about his desire to start early in the spring, he said he wanted to be someone who could be counted on for seven innings every fifth day, and given how small a workload he had at that point, there was a large percentage of us wondering if that was even possible. It was a real wonder if last Thursday he could top his spring best of four innings.

Now, in the fifth game of the season, he’s showing everyone what’s possible. And in eye-popping fashion.

On Opening Day, he said he felt good enough to pitch a seventh inning. Tuesday, his manager let him.

“He started off with high, high (velocity), and then he started pitching,” Pedro Grifol said. “He settled in and just mixed his pitches. And he was pounding the strike zone.

“There comes a time where you develop relationships with these guys, and you’ve got to trust them and they’ve got to trust you. If he tells me he’s feeling good, and the pitch count is where we feel comfortable, we’re going to believe in him and we’re going to trust him.

“His last outing he said he could have gone out for the seventh. I didn’t want him to. It was his first outing as a starter. This one, you know what, he wanted it. He was in a good spot, so, ‘Go get it.’”

While Crochet is looking like a seasoned veteran on the mound and when talking to the media, there are still reminders that he’s doing something new. He set a new club record for the number of strikeouts in his first two career starts, with 16 of them. And he even thought to himself that this new workload is something a little foreign to him.

“I was talking to some of the guys in the dugout,” he said. “Since I got to college, that’s maybe the third time I’ve ever got to the seventh. So that was huge for me. Just nice to get back there, because it was a little unfamiliar territory. To get there this early on, especially when we needed to win, that’s awesome.”

Crochet might be new at this, but he’s officially the White Sox’ stopper after delivering another big effort to bring an end to their string of defeats. Though he gave up a game-tying home run in his final inning, Grifol pushed the right buttons in pinch-hitting Paul DeJong, who homered to retake the lead for the South Siders following Crochet’s last pitch, and in letting Michael Kopech complete an eventful five-out save in which he issued three walks and allowed a home run.

But while it might take more than a few relief appearances to figure out if Kopech is truly closer material, it seems the White Sox are learning quickly that Crochet might have what it takes to be the ace of a staff. Thirteen impressive innings and a pencil-thin 1.38 ERA already have folks wondering about his long-term future with the team and checking to see how many years of club control remain.

It’s three, including this year, in case you were wondering.

But as Chris Getz looks for new building blocks in the early stages of his organizational makeover, Crochet might just fit the bill, taking the baton from Cease, who was deemed more useful as a trade chip than as part of the long-term planning on the South Side.

Of course, it’s very, very early, still a time of year when snow can threaten a baseball game, as it might Wednesday. To place the crown on Crochet’s head this soon might be more than just a bit overzealous. But he’s blown onlookers away as easily as he’s blown fastballs past hitters.

The wins might not come in bunches for the White Sox this season, but there’s still something to accomplish as Getz builds for the future. And in giving Crochet the chance to start, the White Sox might have just found themselves an ace to build around.

So it goes without saying that he’s not missing the bullpen, right?

“Not quite,” Crochet said with a smile. “Not yet.”

Get Our Best Sox Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Chicago White Sox fan with Vinnie Duber's Sox Newsletter!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?