White Sox offseason: Garrett Hook’s role in 2022 still undecided


How will the Chicago White Sox use Garrett Hook in 2022?

The front office is still trying to figure this out, or at least that was when CEO Rick Hahn spoke at GM meetings earlier this month in Southern California.

The White Sox made Hook the No. 11 pick in the 2020 draft, dazzling fans on the left and onlookers when he ran in the big leagues and came out of the south side bullpen – and threw 101 miles on gas time – without a single minor league game under his belt. In 2021, he was a mainstay in the relief corps, and while that blistering speed had waned, he was one of Tony La Russa’s most regularly called upon weapons as the season drew to a close.

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Hook wasn’t drafted that strongly to do so, however, seen as a member of the starting rotation of the future, with Hahn stating at the start of the 2021 campaign that the plan was to put Hook back on the path of a starter, whether in the minor leagues or as a major league starting staffer, in 2022. After all, if he’s going to be the long-range starting pitcher the White Sox still think he can be, he’s going to have to start preparing for it at some point.

But with 2022 on the horizon and the White Sox bullpen well-worn from off-season departures, there’s good reason to think Hook should stay where he is and serve the major league team in a capacity. relief as he prepares to chase a championship next summer.

So what should the White Sox do?

“I don’t have a good answer to that yet,” Hahn said in California. “He’s had a really good year, which makes you wary of taking him out of something that works, because he’s valuable in that role. That said, we still believe very much in his potential to be a hard-hitting starter as well. is just something we want to find a way to squeeze out of it.

“What I don’t have a good answer on yet is exactly how we’re going to balance that with the 22 club.”

Of course, Hook wasn’t the only 2021 reliever slated to move from 2022.

Michael Kopech is elevated to the rotation for next year after being thrown out of the bullpen in 2021 to make things easier following back-to-back missed seasons. Using Kopech was a storyline throughout the campaign, and the White Sox seemed to alter his role every couple of months, using him as a middle reliever/point starter early on (with great success) and then following suit. slotting it into their end-mix of innings before stretching it at the end of the season to pitch multiple innings at once in the playoffs.

Whether it was the “creative” use Hahn envisioned when talking about Kopech during the preseason, who knows. But it seemed to do the job of getting enough innings under Kopech’s belt for the team to feel comfortable making him a starter in 2022.

A similar fate could await Hook, but that’s only one possible outcome.

“Obviously we probably had Kopech deeper into his professional development at the start of Season 21 than Hook, but we were able to find a way to use him in the bullpen while still allowing him to occasionally start, stretch him out and put him in a decent position coming in this season to be part of the rotation,” Hahn said. “So it’s possible that’s what we’ll do with Garrett next year. It’s an option.

“There’s a path that would have him start in the minors for a while and then maybe join the bullpen at some point later in the year. It’s just a (hypothetical). Nothing in that meaning hasn’t been determined at all. It’s just trying to be creative in a way that maximizes the talent of this kid.”

Part of the reason this is such a headache is that Hook has proven to be very effective as a relief. While he didn’t blow the guys away like he did in his little taste of the majors in 2020, he still finished the 2021 season with a 2.82 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 54.1 relief sleeves.

While Craig Kimbrel is openly discussed as a trade candidate, Ryan Tepera and Evan Marshall have gone through free agency and Kopech heads into rotation, there are gaping holes in the White Sox bullpen , holes that would be made even bigger by Hook being plucked away too.

While Hahn discussed the development of young arms like Kopech and Hook as key to the White Sox’s planned contention beyond the 2022 season, as well as those two being significant contributors right now, he needs to set up a bullpen. who can stand behind Liam. Hendriks and Aaron Bummer on whether the South Siders are going to be Championship contenders next season.

The best way to do this might be to keep Hook where it is, although the reason Hahn & Co. haven’t decided on this yet probably has to do with the other weapons they can add to Hook’s body. rescue.

“We’ll see” is never a popular response among hungry fans during Hot Stove season. But when it comes to Hook and how the White Sox use him next season, it may all come down to how the off-season team work is going to the point that it’s the only answer available to the moment.

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