With Paulino Likely Out, Who Steps In To The Rotation?

Felipe Paulino was brought in over the offseason as a Don Cooper project. Coming off of multiple injuries, he was a long shot to find success at the major league level, as he’d only been able to do so for a couple months in 2011 and ’12 since he broke into the bigs back in ’07.

Paulino made the White Sox roster out of Spring Training but after just four starts, it looks like his time may have already run out. As you can see from his game log below, he’s progressively performed worse with each passing start …

paulino game log

So at this point in time, the White Sox can’t really justify keeping him up with the big league club. When he gets hit around it takes the team out of games early on while also depleting the bullpen. That’s as bad of a combo as you can get.

Maybe Paulino will find success at some point, but the team can’t afford to wait around and let him get teed up on every fifth day until he does. And based on manager Robin Ventura’s comments, it sounds like his time has indeed run out …

Whether he’s designated for assignment or placed on the disabled list, I’d be shocked if we see him with the team five days from now when he’s due up next in the rotation.

And it’s not clear who would step in for Paulino if and when he is taken out of the rotation.

While the team did sign Tommy Hanson, he appears to be more of a long-term project, so others like Scott Carroll, Dylan AxelrodCharlie LeesmanEric Surkamp and Andre Rienzo appear to be the options.

With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks being three lefties already etched into the rotation, the team will likely stray away from adding a fourth. If a southpaw were the clear cut best option they’d certainly add him, but Leesman and Surkamp are just depth guys like the others, so I’d favor the righties.

Andre Rienzo probably makes the most sense, as he’s still just 25 years old and has some upside. He made ten starts for the Sox down the stretch in 2013 and fared pretty well in six, maybe seven of them. Because he pitches to contact so much it appears his ceiling is that of a no. 4 or 5 starter, but still … this is the time to give that kind of kid an opportunity.

Overall, he’s been so-so through his first three starts of the season, whereas his teammate Scott Carroll has really shined.

Carroll, a 29-year old journeyman who has still yet to appear in the big leagues, is 3-0 for the Charlotte Knights of AAA and has not let up an earned run in his 19.0 innings of work. While those three outings have been impressive, his ceiling is obviously that of a spot starter or an organizational depth guy, like Dylan Axelrod has been for the White Sox over the past few years.

Axelrod was solid for awhile last year before teams really figured him out, and though he probably has the lowest ceiling of all, still has to be considered a candidate, even if just to be a short-term solution.

Later in the year a prospect like Chris Beck could get his chance at starting with the big league club, but we’re only in April, so nothing of that nature is near.

If the team does have to designate Paulino for assignment, there’s a solid chance he’d go unclaimed and could report to AAA. Maybe he could get comfortable and find his groove in Charlotte. He was signed to a $1.75MM contract with a 2015 option, so the team probably doesn’t want to pull the plug on him entirely.

There is no off day between now and Wednesday, when Paulino’s spot in the rotation is set to come around next, so I’d expect a decision and ultimately a roster move to be made soon.

Zachary Gropper

About Zachary Gropper

Zach is the Managing Editor of GrabSomeBench.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @zmgrop.