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White Sox: Carlos Rodon Improving Towards End of Season

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Sep 2, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) throws a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 2, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) throws a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /
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White Sox lefty pitches quality start against Royals on Friday. With the win, the 2014 First Round pick continued to lower his ERA and is closer to being .500 on the season.

The Chicago White Sox entered the season with Carlos Rodon slated to be its number three starter behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. After a strong finish to end the 2015 season, Rodon’s ascension to being the team’s third best starter appeared to be on track with his quick promotion through the system.

However, Rodon didn’t start this season as strongly as he finished last season. There were some minor rumblings among dour Sox fans on whether the second-year pitcher was starting to become a bust. With a horrible start on April 18 against the Angels where he lasted just 0.1 innings pitched, it was easy to see why Sox fans were angry with Rodon.

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Rodon’s ERA at the end of April was 4.33 and he was 1-3. By the end of July, his ERA was 4.97 and he was 3-8. To make matters worst, Rodon not only had poor starts in July, but he was on the disabled list due to spraining his wrist in the dugout. Before the injury, Rodon had his second poor outing of the season against the Yankees on July 5. In that game, he lasted five innings but surrendered 12 hits and five earned runs against New York.

After his return from injury on July 31 against the Twins, he allowed eight hits and five earned runs in 6.1 innings pitched. At the time, it looked like Rodon would be a long shot to get to .500 on the season as his record stood at 2-8. Although Rodon was still struggling, he began to use more of his changeup after this start and this has led to success for the young pitcher.

From April until July, Rodon used his changeup less than 11 percent according to data compiled from BrooksBaseball.net. In August however, Rodon used his changeup just under 17 percent and so far in September at 17.44 percent. Compared to last season, Rodon has utilized his changeup more frequently than any point in his young career. In 2015, Rodon didn’t throw a chaneup more than 12 percent in any month.

In Rodon’s last four starts including Friday against the Royals, he’s given up five earned runs in 25.2 innings pitched. While he isn’t going that deep into games, he’s appearing to become more effective with his command. In those starts, Rodon only allowed five walks in comparison with 24 strikeouts.

On Friday, Rodon pitched perhaps his best start in the last month against Kansas City. Rodon recorded nine strikeouts in six innings pitched. He ended his night by getting out of a bases loaded jam. After giving up a single to Alex Gordon, then walking Drew Butera, Rodon gave up another single to Whit Merrifield to load the bases. Rodon would strike out Paulo Orlando swinging to end the threat.

With the victory, Rodon is now 7-8 with a 3.90 ERA. After a start on September 8 ,2015, Rodon’s record was 7-6 with a 3.94 ERA. He would go on to finish 2015 with a 9-6 record and a 3.75 ERA. Rodon could most certainly surpass his ERA total from last season and also reach double digit victories.

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Rodon has made tremendous improvements from his sluggish start to the season. If he can continue pitching quality starts, he could become a catalyst for next season. The Sox will most likely rely upon him to be a building block for the future. He could be paired with Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer as cornerstones of the future. Rodon hasn’t reached the level of being an ace yet, but his ceiling is still high. If his starts over the last month are any indication, Sox fans could see a dynamic top of the starting rotation including Rodon next season.

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