With the recent success of the young left-handed pitcher, White Sox are putting themselves in position to have the best rotation in baseball soon.
White Sox fans can stop beating around the bushes, Carlos Rodon is an ace.
The pitcher that the White Sox thought could be a No. 1 starter has finally arrived. Rodon has shown glimpses of brilliance in the past but it has not been as consistent as the team had hoped nor has it been this dominant.
Rodon has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball since the start of July. That’s quite incredible when you look at the kind of team the White Sox have been since the start of July (17-22). It also feels a little strange putting Rodon in that category of best pitchers, considering the best pitchers the Sox have had over the last 15 years were Chris Sale and Mark Buehrle.
But he really has been that great. Since the start of July, Rodon has a 1.60 ERA (1st in MLB with over 40 IP), in 50.2 innings in seven starts. He’s struck out 42, has the lowest batting average against, and has only allowed one home-run in almost two months. Rodon has pitched into the eighth inning or later in all but two of those seven starts and has gone at least eight innings in his last two. Most importantly, the White Sox have only lost two of his last seven starts. He has a 3-0 record over that span.
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If he can finish out the season pitching anything close to what he’s been doing lately, he’s going to have some serious buzz entering the offseason and next season as the ace of the Chicago White Sox.
But with Rodon’s spot almost completely locked up as a No. 1, and other very promising pitchers waiting in the wings, are the White Sox in line to have one of the best pitching rotations in baseball?
Well, that’s extremely too early to tell but it’s no less exciting. According to many scouting reports, the White Sox have at least four pitchers in Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning, and Alec Hansen that are premier, top of the line, prospects (in that order). This is not including the pitchers the White Sox have in the rotation now, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito.
But having pitching prospects does not automatically mean the organization has one of the best rotations in baseball. It’s merely a possibility. However, based on the current state of the team’s rotation and the prospects who are projected to be very good, the chances of having a good rotation, or even a great rotation, is that much higher.
The White Sox have a great chance of having a very scary rotation but what does a team need to be considered a great rotation? History says a team needs to have at least three great starters surrounded by other quality No. 3 and No. 4 starters. Those three great starters could usually end up being aces on another staff.
Take a look at these examples of recent great rotations, all composed in a variety of different ways.
The 2018 Astros are leading almost every major pitching category in baseball this season. Their three main starters are Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Dallas Keuchel. They also have Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. That’s a great rotation of three homegrown players and two acquired All-Stars.
The Mets of yesteryear with Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob DeGrom. All three were dominant and all three led the charge to the 2015 World Series before the Mets fell apart altogether. All three were also homegrown players.
The 2013 Tigers had a rotation of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and Anibal Sanchez. Again, homegrown players – meaning that they were not acquired at the height of their success. However, with the exception of Verlander, they were all traded before they were at the height of their success.
Fun fact, Verlander, Scherzer, and Porcello combined to win the American League 2011, 2013, 2016 and National League 2016 and 2017 Cy Young awards. Verlander also won the AL MVP award in 2011. All three are favorites to win the Cy Young awards in both leagues again this season.
The 2011 Phillies were as dominant as they come. They had Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt take the bump and even though they didn’t win the World Series, that rotation just looks ridiculous on paper. The only homegrown pitcher they had come up through the system was Cole Hamels.
The 2002 Athletics, one of my favorites, had the dominant trio of Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Mark Mulder. They combined to win 57 games in 2002, including Zito who went 23-5 and finished the season with the AL Cy Young award over Pedro Martinez. The beautiful thing about this trio of dominant starters was all three were drafted by the Oakland Athletics.
Last but not least, actually probably the best rotation was the Atlanta Braves starting rotation of the 1990s. From top to bottom, the records of their starters were 18-9, 20-6, 17-3, 16-11, and 17-8 during the 1998 season. Headlined by the three Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, this rotation led the charge to an amazing run of success during the 90s, which included two NL pennants and one World Series Championship in 1995.
Take a look at the list of NL Cy Young award winners from 1991 to 1998:
- Tom Glavine in 1991
- Greg Maddux (w/Cubs) in 1992
- Greg Maddux in 1993
- Greg Maddux in 1994
- Greg Maddux in 1995
- John Smoltz in 1996
- Pedro Martinez in 1997
- Tom Glavine in 1998
Glavine and Smoltz made their MLB debuts for the Braves. The Braves acquired Maddux in 1992 in free agency.
The White Sox most likely won’t have a rotation like the Braves did in the 90s, with three Hall of Famers. But it’s not out of the question to expect something great. The Sox definitely don’t want to end up like the Tigers if the rebuild ultimately fails, trading away three Cy Young award winners. But where the White Sox can and should hope for is something a little closer to the 2002 Athletics, or even the 2015 Mets.
Having Harvey, who many thought was the best pitcher in baseball for a couple of years, along with Syndergaard and DeGrom, who many think is the best pitcher in baseball now, is not a failed experiment. Incredibly horrible luck with injuries and some front office blunders caused the downfall of the Mets. They had three amazing pitchers, the rest of the plan didn’t work out.
For Oakland though, all three pitchers were drafted and were brought up through their organization’s system. All three also enjoyed a great run of pitching success with that same organization.
The White Sox drafted a stud in Rodon and are looking to add at least another two studs alongside him over the next two seasons in Kopech and Cease. It’s going to take a few years to see how good the rotation can really be. Rodon did not reach this level of success until his fourth season. Lopez and Giolito are still battling their growing pains. But in spite of what it looks like now, the White Sox starting rotation has the potential to be the next best thing in baseball.