Examining White Sox ace Carlos Rodon’s breakout season


Carlos Rodón was chosen third total within the 2014 draft and was a direct prime prospect upon coming into professional ball. He flew to the massive leagues, making his MLB debut 10 months after his draft date. Rodón was instantly a productive starter, pitching to a 3.75 ERA/4.20 SIERA throughout 139 1/3 innings as a 22-year-old. It could’ve been straightforward for the White Sox to examine him as one other top-of-the-rotation arm in a corporation that had already produced Chris Sale and José Quintana.

Rodón didn’t make the bounce to that stage over the following few seasons, nonetheless. He was effective from 2016-18, working to a 4.11 ERA/4.46 FIP, nevertheless it appeared he’d plateaued as a league-average arm. That’s helpful however in all probability not what many followers had in thoughts. Then Rodón handled a collection of accidents that referred to as his future into query. He landed on the 60-day injured checklist every season from 2018-20, lacking time with shoulder and elbow points. When wholesome sufficient to pitch during the last two seasons, he was unproductive, tossing 42 1/3 innings of 5.74 ERA ball.

These struggles even led the White Sox to chop ties with Rodón quickly. Chicago non-tendered him final winter fairly than supply him an arbitration wage that will’ve price a bit greater than $4M. He spent a great portion of the offseason unsigned earlier than returning to the South Facet on a $3M assure in late January. Even at such a low worth level, the Rodón reunion seemed like a questionable determination given his well being woes and up to date underperformance. Looking back, it has proved to be a masterstroke by basic supervisor Rick Hahn and the entrance workplace.

Rodón earned a spot within the beginning rotation to open the yr. He’s stayed wholesome so far and been nothing wanting unimaginable. Rodón has labored to a minuscule 2.31 ERA throughout 89 2/3 innings. He has struck out a career-high 36.1% of batters confronted, a mark that trails solely Jacob deGrom, Corbin Burnes and Tyler Glasnow among the many 146 pitchers with greater than 50 innings pitched. Rodón’s additionally fourth amongst that group (behind deGrom, Burnes and Max Scherzer) in strikeout/stroll price differential (28.9 share factors) and SIERA (2.82). The large lefty earned a well-deserved journey to the All-Star Sport for the primary time in his profession in recognition of that sturdy work.

Unsurprisingly, Rodón’s that includes one of the best uncooked stuff of his profession. His fastball is averaging 95.9 mph this season, a marked improve over his 92-94 mph vary in recent times. Rodón truly first skilled a velocity spike throughout a few aid appearances on the finish of final season, nevertheless it wasn’t clear whether or not he’d be capable of keep that with a starter’s workload. He has thus far, with no indication of slowing down.

He’s additionally added a bit extra life on the heater on the prime of the strike zone, and he’s throwing his slider with elevated velocity. Each choices have been plus, nevertheless it’s his fastball that has turn into virtually unhittable. Rodón has generated a league-leading 147 whiffs on four-seamers this season, per Statcast. (His 17.1% swinging strike price on the providing is tied for third among the many 68 pitchers who’ve thrown a minimum of 500 fastballs.) In 2018 — his most up-to-date season of greater than seven begins — batters hit .257 and slugged .422 off Rodón in at-bats ending with a four-seamer. This yr, they’re hitting .180 and slugging .275 towards the pitch.

It’s solely been three months, however Rodón has carried out at an ace-caliber stage so far. He famously threw a no-hitter towards Cleveland in April, and he’s had an extra seven begins by which he’s allowed three or fewer hits. Rodón has struck out eight or extra batters in 13 of his 15 appearances, and he’s proven no apparent sick results from the league’s international substance crackdown. In all probability, 2021 will mark his heaviest workload in 5 years, so he’ll have to proceed to show he’s able to acting at a excessive stage as his innings whole piles up.

The White Sox are extremely more likely to win the AL Central, and Rodón has put himself in what seems to be a really sturdy future playoff rotation additionally together with Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn and certainly one of Dylan Stop or Dallas Keuchel. He’s in line to once more attain free company this winter, the place he’ll be one of many youngest and most efficient beginning pitchers in the marketplace. There’s no query he’ll fare fairly a bit higher this time round.


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