Crochet ties for MLB K lead in latest gem of breakout campaign

June 14th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin’s White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PHOENIX -- Don’t trade .

No, White Sox general manager Chris Getz has not started asking for my advice on personnel moves. These comments are unsolicited.

I would have made that same statement prior to the 24-year-old’s sheer dominance on Thursday night at the Mariners, where the left-hander struck out a career-high 13 and recorded a career-best 24 swings and misses from 71 four-seam fastballs and 30 cutters among his 102 pitches, according to Statcast. These numbers simply reinforce my point.

On April 24, Crochet’s ERA stood at 6.37 after allowing 17 earned runs over 11 2/3 innings in his previous three starts. Since that point, Crochet has given up nine runs (eight earned) on 28 hits and 11 walks in 53 innings with 76 strikeouts. During that nine-start span, Crochet has four double-digit strikeout efforts and two in a row to tie him for the Major League lead in Ks with Tyler Glasnow at 116.

If the All-Star Game were played this next week, Crochet would be one of the prime candidates to start on the mound for the American League. And remember, this season marks his first as a starting pitcher.

These impressive statistics aren’t designed to illustrate an uplifting story from what has quickly become a sad summer of Chicago baseball overall. They help define the portrait of an ace-hurler at an incredibly early stage of his development.

Manager Pedro Grifol has mentioned how there’s no blueprint for handling Crochet, who surpassed his career innings total as a reliever of 73 with his 82 2/3 innings thrown this year. They are buying starts, innings and pitches as the 2024 campaign progresses, just as they did in Seattle by giving him an extra day of rest in between starts.

I’m also aware of how rebuilds work -- trust me, I’ve seen plenty of them. So, I understand the colossal return Crochet could bring as the July 30 Trade Deadline approaches. But there’s nothing preventing the White Sox from taking a step up in 2025.

Before you sneer at such a comment, remember the ’23 Royals lost 106 games and currently are in line to be a playoff team. The ’21 Diamondbacks, who the White Sox face in Arizona this weekend, suffered through a dismal 52-110 run, only to reach the ’23 World Series.

Other talented White Sox starters reside on the big league roster and within their Minor League system, and those young hurlers certainly could develop top-of-the-rotation mettle. In a short period of time, though, Crochet has reached that point with both mindset and body.

He’s under contractual control through 2026 before becoming a free agent in ’27, which again increases his trade value. But the White Sox should view a potential ’25 rotation of Crochet, Drew Thorpe, Jonathan Cannon and eventually Noah Schultz, with other legitimate candidates in the mix, and see a foundation to build success.

My no-trade theory holds true for center fielder Luis Robert Jr. as well. He’s a five-tool talent who proved he can be one of the best players in the game in ‘23, but keeping Robert healthy has been the main concern.

Part of the rebuild process is finding the player core to structure around. Sometimes, those pieces are in place without having to make the big move outside the organization.