White Sox move Soroka to 'pen, Keller to rotation

May 14th, 2024

CHICAGO -- The White Sox will move into the starting rotation and into the bullpen, manager Pedro Grifol announced prior to Tuesday afternoon’s doubleheader against the Nationals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Keller will follow Mike Clevinger to the mound this weekend at Yankee Stadium, getting the call on Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve talked to both of them already. We’re excited to see what Keller can do in the rotation. I’ve seen him really good as a starter,” Grifol said. “And then Soroka, he’s got some adjustments to make that we feel can really help him.

“We did the same thing with [Chris] Flexen. He pitched out of the bullpen, he threw a couple times, threw the ball great. Now he’s in the rotation. The same with Soroka: ‘Let’s take a step back, go in the bullpen, pitch with some length over there in the bullpen and see what happens.’ Doesn’t mean he’s going to be there permanently. It just means right now, ‘Let’s go ahead and get you back there, make some adjustments, give you the ball, maintain the length, try to not detrain and move forward.’”

Soroka, 26, has an 0-5 record with a 6.39 ERA over nine starts this season. He has yielded 10 home runs, tied with San Diego’s Michael King and Joe Musgrove for the Major League lead, while walking 24 and striking out 24 over 43 2/3 innings.

In his most recent start against the Guardians on Sunday, the right-hander gave up five runs (four earned), including a pair of game-changing homers, over 5 1/3 innings.

“Kind of found a couple of keys over the last couple starts, and that’s who I am. Go out there and fill it up,” said Soroka after the start. “You get beat sometimes, but you keep going out there and letting it rip. Thought I held stuff pretty well late into the game.”

“He’s a competitor. He wants to continue to pitch,” Grifol added of Soroka on Tuesday. “However, he understands that there’s adjustments that he needs to make. He also understands that we believe in him. I truly believe in the player. I saw it. He’s actually stronger. He’s more physical now than he was. He’s got more experience. He’s faced some adversity and dealt with it.”

On Monday, Grifol watched video of Soroka from a National League Division Series victory over the Cardinals in 2019, when the right-hander was with the Braves, and compared those offerings to another video screen featuring Soroka’s Sunday start. There were pitches thrown by Soroka in that game vs. Cleveland that mimicked his Oct. 6 effort in St. Louis, when he struck out seven and allowed two hits and one run over seven innings.

“In the playoff game, it was one after the other. The consistency was impeccable,” Grifol said. “Scouting background like I have, and I learned from old-time scouts, if you see it once, it’s there. We’ve got to get it out of him.

“I saw it more than once. I saw a great breaking ball to [José] Ramírez. I saw an uptick in velocity to 95 [mph]. I saw movement to his two-seamer that mimicked 2019. Now it’s our responsibility and his responsibility to try to get that consistently like he had it. And there’s no doubt that I think he can.”

Keller, 28, is 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA over four games, including one start at St. Louis on May 3. Nick Nastrini, the White Sox No. 8 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and Jonathan Cannon (No. 11) also are rotation options at Triple-A Charlotte, with Cannon having made three big league starts this season and Nastrini having made two.