The Chicago White Sox were thrilled in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft when NC State LHP Carlos Rodon fell to them at #3. With the ability to become an ace, he already has one solid year under his belt in the major leagues. Will he breakout in 2016?
In my opinion, yes he will. Looking at the last two months of 2015, he seemed to get much better. Rodon had an ERA below three in both August and September (2.48 and 2.03 respectively-no other month was below 3.20, July at 6.57), not to mention in 32.2 IP in August batters hit only .200 against him.
Another impressive August statistic was a near 3 to 1 K/BB ratio (32/13), not to mention he threw a complete game. September was equally impressive, as Rodon went 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA and allowed only one home run.
A lot of his improvement had to do with better control and command late in the year. That is what had haunted him earlier in the season. Batters hit around .280 in the first four months versus Rodon, and a lot of that had to do with hitters counts, when Rodon was forced to challenge hitters with a fastball, and he didn’t have the ability to locate it properly.
On the other hand, if Rodon were to get ahead of a hitter, he could wipe them out easily with his slider. That pitch is basically unhittable, and if he gets into counts where he can throw it, a hitter might as well just to head back to the bench.
Why do I think that Rodon will be a star at the MLB level? Two reasons.
First of all, he has the talent to do so. He throws hard, and if his location improved over the winter so should his ERA. While his changeup is a work in progress, it could become an above average pitch at the big league level. Now, on to his slider. If he throws it for a strike, he will generate swings-and-misses more times than not. It is an elite pitch, and is going to become one of the best sliders in the game.
Overall, Rodon has ace level stuff. Will he become an ace in 2016? That is the big question, however if he improves any from the end of 2015 he should make for a good #2 starter for the White Sox. And I am talking a legit #2, not what Jose Quintana gives them.
Quintana is a very good pitcher, and is an excellent #3 starter, however Sale-Rodon-Quintana could end up being one of the best 1-3 trios in the American League in 2016. Let’s hope that happens White Sox fans.