White Sox Notes: Vaughn, Kelly, Moncada, Cueto

The White Sox have arguably been the team most affected by injuries in the first month of the 2022 season, with many of their position players and starting pitchers having missed some time, whether they’ve gone on the injured list or not. These various maladies have dragged them down to an 11-13 start to the season. It appears they’ve taken yet another blow, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times, with Andrew Vaughn likely headed to the injured list before the team opens a series against Boston on Friday.

Vaughn was hit by a pitch on his hand in a game last week and, despite negative X-rays, hasn’t played since. “It’s kind of progressed, but it’s still aching when I swing, real bad,” Vaughn said. “Like it’s kind of blocking me from swinging because of the pain. I feel it all the time.” Injuries to outfielders Eloy Jimenez, AJ Pollock and Luis Robert had opened up some regular playing time for Vaughn and he answered the call by hitting .283/.367/.566 this year, good enough for a 177 wRC+. Unfortunately, that will all have to be put on hold until he can recover.

There is at least some good news for the Pale Hose, however, as Van Schouwen also reports that Yoan Moncada is likely joining the team next week. The third baseman has yet to make his season debut due to an oblique strain. With Moncada out, most of the playing time at the hot corner has been going to Jake Burger, who’s hitting .250/.270/.383. That line amounts to a wRC+ of 91, or 9% below league average. Moncada’s wRC + for his career is 114 and it was 122 last year, meaning he should provide the lineup a boost as long as he can return and produce at his usual level.

The bullpen should also get a reinforcement soon, with Joe Kelly likely making his debut with the White Sox next week. While with the Dodgers last year, the right was sidelined with a bicep injury. The Sox signed him in the offseason knowing that he was still working his way back from that issue and likely wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season. Since switching from the rotation to the bullpen, Kelly has emerged as a useful fireballer. From 2017 to 2021, he threw 229 innings with a 3.62 ERA, 24.8% strikeout rate and 10.6% walk rate.

As for the rotation, Johnny Cueto seems ready to suit up for the White Sox as well. Signed to a minor league deal in early April, he’s been gradually building up his arm strength with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. After a nice bounceback season with the Giants last year where he threw 114 2/3 innings of 4.08 ERA ball, he signed with the White Sox on a deal that will pay him $4.2MM once he’s selected to the big league club. with Lance Lynn on the shelf for a while, a spot in the rotation opened up for Vince Velasquez, who has a 4.58 ERA through four starts, with strikeout and walk rates roughly in line with his career numbers. The weakest link in the rotation so far, however, has been Dallas Keuchel, who has an 8.40 ERA at the moment, along with a measly 9.8% strikeout rate and 13.4% walk rate. That’s a small sample of just four starts, but it continues a trend that began last year, when the lefty put up at 5.28 ERA and 13.2% strikeout rate. He’s in the last guaranteed year of his three-year, though there is a $20MM club/vesting option for 2023. If Keuchel were to reach 160 innings pitched this year, that would become guaranteed.

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