White Sox: Was 2018 A Step In Right Direction for Carlos Rodon?
White Sox left-handed pitcher showed signs of being a future ace for this team during starts in the 2018 season. Is there more to come for him in 2019?
Though the outcome of the White Sox 2018 season is not ideal, there are a few bright spots among the team. One of them happens to be one that we’ve been waiting a long time for us fans. Carlos Rodon finally had a season that truly flashed signs of his potential consistency. Given that he was the first White Sox draft pick selected in the top three picks of the draft since a guy named Harold Baines in 1977, the hype surrounding him when he entered the White Sox system was high.
At age 25, Rodon’s numbers are the best they have been yet in his young career. He currently is holding career bests in earned run average, WHIP, and hits per nine innings. For you fans of sabermetrics, his wins above replacement is also sitting at a career high of 2.7.
The summer was a great one for Rodon specifically. His numbers in both July and August were exceptional. In July, Rodon was 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA, and in August he was 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA. In fact, he had nine consecutive starts from July to August where he was never handed a loss.
Rodon has turned a corner to progress himself to the next level. How exactly? Well for starters, his experience helps. At 493.1 innings, Rodon is seven innings shy of surpassing the 500 inning mark. But experience is a given when it comes to development.
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Another factor in Rodon’s improvement? His developed feel for his changeup. Coming into the White Sox system, both Rodon’s fastball and slider were guarantees to be effective pitches. His changeup, however, was a question mark. The effectiveness of his changeup progressed in 2018, which likely contributed to his overall improvement. Changeups accounted for 14.2 percent of his pitches this year, surpassing his highest percentage of 12.3 from 2017, according to FanGraphs.
Another evident difference in Rodon’s game this year is the use of his velocity. Coming in as a guy who was projected to be a consistent flamethrower, Rodon balanced that out this year. His fastball velocity average reached a new low this year at 92.8 miles per hour. Though higher velocity is ideal, Rodon’s transition resulted in better numbers in other categories.
Not to mention that everything he’s done was a result of him not being 100 percent. Rodon’s innings were limited compared to the what he typically throws in a year. A shoulder surgery done back in September 2017 held Rodon out until June 9 of this year. On top of that, he was struck in the head by a line drive during a rehab start back on May 25. Fortunately, the liner did not affect his return and he was able to return at his originally projected time.
Through all of the challenges, Rodon was able to post ace-caliber numbers and cemented himself as the leader in the young White Sox rotation. Considering it is very likely we have already seen the last game for James Shields in a White Sox uniform, the rotation will lack a leader.
Given that players like Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease will be mainstays in the rotation very soon, it needs a leader. Now that Rodon has established his success this season and has just about reached the 500 inning mark, it’s only a matter of time until he can become the veteran mentor the White Sox will need.