With most of the Focus on the Rest of the Rotation, Carlos Rodon is having solid season for the White Sox. The White Sox 2014 first round draft pick has given them a reliable third starter behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
The focus on the White Sox rotation this season has been on the all-star performances Sale and Quintana have been having and the ineffectiveness of John Danks, Mat Latos and James Shields. In between has been Rodon.
Rodon pitched his sixth quality start in his last seven and his eighth of the season June 19 against Cleveland. With James Shields lasting only 1.2 innings the game before, this was Rodon’s most important start of the season. Rodon pitched 6.1 innings. He allowed eight hits, two runs, walked one and struck out eight. He lowered his ERA to 4.16.
Rodon is averaging 5.79 innings per start. He has lasted six or more in 11 of his 13 starts. His importance to the rotation cannot be understated with the continued ineffectiveness of Danks, Latos and now Shields.
To become the pitcher the White Sox expected of him when he was drafted, Rodon is going to have to become tougher on right-handed hitters. Right-handed hitters are hitting .302 against Rodon in 52 innings and left-handed hitters are hitting .206 against him in 17.1 innings.
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The biggest key for Rodon is to get ahead in the count. Batters are hitting just .206 against Rodon when he is ahead in the count and .302 when the count is even. When the batter is ahead they are hitting Rodon at a .340 clip. Batters are also hitting .338 against Rodon on the first pitch.
Rodon spoke to the Chicago Tribune’s Colleen Kane about the importance of getting ahead:
"“I struggled early as a rookie and I went on a run getting ahead of guys and going after dudes,” Rodon said. “I’m trying to get back to that.”"
With the White Sox season slipping away, Rodon’s performance will be vital down the stretch. He was outstanding in the last two months of the season last year. Rodon was 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA with 49 strikeouts over his final eight starts.
The biggest thing to worry about with Rodon is his innings pitched. He previous high in innings pitched was last year with 139.2. His previous high was 132.1 in 2013 as a sophomore at North Carolina St. Will he be able to continue to grow stronger as the season progresses? If the White Sox are going to somehow turn this season around, they need Rodon to pitch like he did the last two months of the season last year.