Following the 2020 regular season, many Chicago White Sox fans were done with Carlos Rodón. Since 2017 he had only appeared in 43 games for the Chicago White Sox after being hampered by injuries.
He was drafted third overall in 2014 with the hopes of being the White Sox future ace. He showed flashes of potential but failed to live up to expectations. That was mostly because he failed to stay healthy. In 2017, left shoulder inflammation reduced him to just twelve starts. In 2019 he went from the Opening Day starter to undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery after just seven starts. The first-round pick shine was beginning to wear off. 2020 appeared to be the last straw for the White Sox. He pitched in only four games due to left shoulder soreness and had an 8.22 ERA. The White Sox non-tendered him in the offseason.
In a surprising move, the White Sox brought him back on a one-year 3 million dollar guaranteed contract. While the money was guaranteed for Rodón, nothing else was. He had to earn a starting job in spring training over Reynaldo Lopez. With the help of new pitching coach Ethan Katz, he did just that.
Katz transformed his delivery, getting his lower half more involved. The work paid off and he complied a 1.32 ERA in spring training with 16 strikeouts and only one walk. He blew Lopez out of the water and was named the team’s fifth starter.
So far Rodón proved that spring training was no fluke. He opened the season with a solid performance in Seattle in which in went five innings, allowing no runs and striking out nine. He earned the win with his efforts. He followed that performance up with a no-hitter against the Indians on Wednesday night.
His performance was special. He peppered the strike zone by throwing 75 of his 114 pitches for strikes. He did not walk a single batter and seemed to throw harder as the game went along. The Indians were only able to barrel up three balls all night but all of them were hit directly at a White Sox fielder. He punched out seven hitters and was two outs away from a perfect game. The perfect game only slipped away because Rodón buried an 0-2 slider too far inside and hit Roberto Perez.
Obviously, you can’t expect Rodón to have this enchanted stuff every outing. However, with the production the White Sox are getting out of him as their fifth starter, they could win a ton of games this season. It will allow the White Sox to keep Micheal Kopech in the bullpen as a superweapon and take pressure off of the rest of the bullpen. Coming into the season, Rodón and Cease were dubbed as two of the biggest x-factors on the White Sox. Their performance will largely dictate how far the White Sox can go this season.
Rodón has lived up to his end of the bargain and thus far silenced the critics that wanted the White Sox to go after another starting pitcher this offseason. When the White Sox brought back Rodón on a one-year deal, it looked like they were playing it cheap.
They had faith that Rodón could tap into the potential he had when he was drafted if he could stay healthy. The move allows the White Sox some flexibility to add a guy at the trade deadline because they did not spend big money on another starter. If he can keep this up, the White Sox are well on their way to a deep run in October. It isn’t too bad for a guy only making $3 million dollars.