Starter options aplenty if Peavy goes

CHICAGO -- With a Jake Peavy trade looming, the Chicago White Sox have plenty of options for rotation replacements moving forward, especially when looking toward future years.

That’s right, the much-maligned farm system of the White Sox is actually gushing with starting pitching possibilities.

Dylan Axelrod figures to have the best shot of returning to the rotation if Peavy is moved before Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but no less than three other minor pitchers could be considered as well.

Right-hander Erik Johnson was set to return from the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday after being sidelined with a groin strain. After dominating at Double-A Birmingham (8-2, 2.23 ERA), Johnson went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA for Charlotte before he was injured.

Also pushing toward a major league roster spot is Johnson’s Charlotte teammate Andre Rienzo, who fired a seven-inning no-hitter Thursday against Indianapolis. (Games in minor league doubleheaders are shortened to seven innings.)

Rienzo has allowed just 12 earned runs over his last 10 starts and has a 0.73 ERA in four July starts, winning three of them.

Further back at the Double-A level, Scott Snodgress is starting to make some noise. The Stanford product, who was a fifth-round pick in 2011, nearly pitched a no-hitter on Monday with 8 1/3 hitless innings. He followed that up Saturday night with six scoreless innings against Mobile. The left-hander has a 1.99 ERA over his last seven starts.

Johnson, Rienzo and Snodgress were all non-roster invitees to spring training this season so manager Robin Ventura does have familiarity with each.

“You hear about that stuff but, again, you have to be prepared. If something does happen you know one of those guys in the minor leagues is probably going to have to come up and fill a spot,” Ventura said.

Not only is Peavy on the cusp of being traded, but Gavin Floyd isn’t expected back after blowing out his elbow this season. Floyd’s contract expires this offseason.

Heading into next season, the White Sox could be looking at a projected rotation of Chris Sale, John Danks, Jose Quintana, Hector Santiago and Rienzo or Johnson in a heated spring-training battle, with Snodgress waiting in the wings.

Ventura says he is getting constant updates on the outings from assistant general manager Buddy Bell and director of player development Nick Capra.

“Even like last year, they give you the information, who's playing well, who's pitching well, options in case something happens and who would be the logical choice,” Ventura said. “I don't necessarily get to see (the outings) but you get updated.”