CHICAGO – Watching young starting pitchers such as Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer struggle this season, the popular outside reaction usually goes like this: “Send them to the minor leagues.”
That fate did befall Fulmer, and Giolito also is in danger of being demoted to Triple-A Charlotte if he doesn’t start throwing more strikes.
But there is something to be said for taking your lumps and learning from them in the major leagues.
Just ask Dylan Covey, who was 0-7 with a 7.71 ERA as a rookie with the White Sox last season.
“It was tough,” Covey said. “Obviously, I wasn’t ready, I don’t think. But I think that it taught me more than I could ever have learned at any level in minor league baseball.”
Covey was a unique case last season. As a Rule 5 addition, the right-hander had to remain on the Sox’s 25-man roster or be offered back to his former team, the Oakland Athletics. Since the Sox were in the early stages of a rebuild and largely immune to the pressures of winning games, Covey stuck around. He obviously learned.
Back in the Sox’s rotation after opening the season with Charlotte, the 26-year-old pitcher continued to look like a keeper in Wednesday night’s 3-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Covey scattered 10 hits over seven-plus innings and allowed two runs to go with no walks and five strikeouts. Over his past three starts, he has pitched 18 innings and given up two earned runs while striking out 19 and issuing only four walks.
“I’m just super comfortable with my mechanics, with my pitches,” Covey said after his ERA rose from 2.22 to 2.29. “I’m throwing off-speeds for strikes, curveballs for strikes. It’s just all about comfort for me right now.”
The fastball has been Covey’s best pitch, and it has been lethal while consistently hitting 95 to 96 mph.
Covey was riding a string of 18 scoreless innings before Cleveland scored 2 runs in the eighth Wednesday.
In the fifth inning, Charlie Tilson tripled to score Tim Anderson and came home on Trayce Thompson’s suicide squeeze. Kevan Smith added an RBI single in the sixth to provide enough offense.
First baseman Jose Abreu also made two solid throws on double plays, and Covey did his part again as he continued to show remarkable improvement.
“I think it’s just a little bit of everything,” Covey said. “Just working on my mechanics, I’m not yanking anything like I had been last year. That was my biggest issue, getting to the glove side. That’s kind of my strongest area right now.”