Carlos Rodón was dealing on Saturday night. The lefty had enchanted stuff in an intense pitching duel in the Bronx. The playoff-like contest ended in a disappointing 2-1 for the Chicago White Sox but that didn’t take away from Rodon’s effort on the mound.
Carlos Rodon had an outstanding night for the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
In 95 pitches of work, Rodón went six innings, giving up no runs. He arguably had better stuff than he did on the night of his no-hitter. On this day he only allowed two singles and did not issue a walk. His dominance on the hill resulted in a career-high 13 strikeouts. He fell just three Ks short of typing Jack Harshman’s franchise record of 16 set in 1954. He also matched a season-high 23 swings and misses overall.
Rodón set the tone early when he punched out DJ LeMahieu on an 85 mph slider. Rodón’s slider has been one of the most unhittable pitches in baseball this season. Opposing hitters only have two hits off of it on the season. Nine of Rodón’s 13 strikeouts against the Yankees were a result of his wipeout slider. He also got 11 of his 23 swings and misses off that pitch.
"“The pitch has always been good, it’s always been my best pitch,” Rodón said after the game. “But I think it has to do with the way we get to that pitch with the fastball and changeup. The three-pitch mix definitly makes the slider a lot better, a lot more effective.”"
LeMahieu would be the first of five consecutive hitters to go down on strikes. Rougned Odor was the first Yankee hitter that was able to put a ball in play when he flew out to centerfield. Carlos Rodón became the first pitcher since Sandy Koufax in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series to start a game with five straight strikeouts against the Yankees in New York. The barrage of Ks didn’t end there.
Rodón punched out Gary Sanchez to start the third inning. He then ran into some trouble after Nick Madrigal committed two errors on the same play putting runners on second and third. Jose Abreu provided some help with a great defensive play, throwing Miguel Andujar out at the plate. That assist was all the breathing room Rodón needed to wriggle out of the jam unscathed. Luke Voit fell victim to a wideout slider and Rodón walked off the mound with a celebratory primal scream.
He worked around a leadoff single in the fourth with two more strikeouts, then sandwiched a soft ground out between a pair of strikeouts in the fifth. The strikeouts in the fifth inning made him the first White Sox pitcher since Jake Peavy in 2012 to have a 10-K game at Yankee Stadium. Rodón finished the game with a bang, fanning DJ LeMahieu, a Luke Voit pop out to first, then punching out Aaron Judge. It was Rodón’s fourth 1-2-3 inning.
Unfortunatly, all those strikeouts racked up his pitch count and La Russa opted to go with Micheal Kopech in the seventh inning, putting an end to Rodón dominant day on the mound. Despite his great effort, he was tagged with a no-decision. After a shakey last outing, it was nice to see Rodón get back on track against one of the best lineups in baseball.
"“It was just another outstanding preformance, in this ballpark against that lineup,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “He was very sharp”."
Rodon lowered his season ERA to 1.27. He is having an All-Star caliber season. His 33.8% K rate ranks fifth in the AL and his .156 opponent batting average allowed ranks third. He is the real deal. It’s time the rest of the league took notice. After making hitters look silly in New York, start spreading the news.