Chicago White Sox: Is re-signing Carlos Rodón worth the risk?

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox rotation is in shambles right now. Three of their top five starters are dealing with some sort of injury. Lance Lynn was placed on the IL for right knee inflammation, Lucas Giolito is dealing with hamstring tightness and Carlos Rodón is skipping his next scheduled start because of shoulder fatigue and soreness.

In the big picture, it is not the end of the world. The White Sox are taking precautionary measures with the top end of the rotation. If this was the postseason, there is a good chance all of them would be pitching. However, the Carlos Rodón news is particularly concerning. Given his unreliable track record, it begs the question of whether he is worth the investment this offseason.

Carlos Rodon has been excellent for the Chicago White Sox this season. After non-tendering Rodon during the offseason, the White Sox brought the southpaw back on a one-year 3-million dollar “prove it” deal.

Rodón had to beat out Reynaldo Lopez for the fifth starter job and then rewarded the White Sox by producing a career year. In April, he threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians and was just two outs shy of a perfect game. This game was no fluke either as Rodón has been filthy this entire season. He has posted a 2.41 ERA with 11 wins and 168 strikeouts. He also owns an impressive 0.98 WHIP and an absurd 12.64 strikeout per nine innings rate.

Carlos Rodon has been sensational in 2021 for the Chicago White Sox.

Only two other pitchers have struck out 11 batters through five innings multiple times this season. Rodón has done it three times while Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola have each done it twice. Rodón also passed Billy Pierce for the third-most career double-digit strikeout efforts by a left-handed pitcher in White Sox franchise history.

The hard-throwing lefty also tied the record for the most games in a season with 10 plus strikeouts and two or fewer hits allowed since 1901. Only five other pitchers have accomplished this feat. Rodón is tied at five games with Rich Harden (2008), Hideo Nomo (1995), Gerrit Cole (2021).

The only pitcher he trails is Justin Verlander (2019) with six games. On top of that, he shattered the White Sox franchise record for most games in a season with 10 plus strikeouts and two or fewer hits allowed, by three games. Dylan Cease has two this season and is tied for second with Reynaldo Lopez (2019), and Chris Sale who accomplished the feat twice (2015 and 2014). He earned a trip to the All-Star game for his efforts.

On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer that the White Sox should re-sign him. With that, there are some major red flags. For starters, Scott Boras is his agent. Rodón is set to hit free agency this offseason and quality left-handed starters usually fetch a high price on the open market. Boras is notorious for orchestrating huge deals and is going to try and squeeze every penny out of the White Sox. If the White Sox want to bring him back they are likely going to overpay.

Rodón also has not been able to go very deep into games. Because of his high strikeout rate, he racks up pitches and is unable to make it past the sixth inning frequently. This season alone he only has only made it into the seventh inning or beyond four times in 21 starts.

He hasn’t even thrown enough innings this season to be considered a qualified MLB starter, otherwise, his 2.41 ERA would rank amongst the top in the AL. He is averaging just over five innings a start this season. That puts a lot of stress on the bullpen having to cover four innings consistently every fifth day.

Another red flag is his inability to stay healthy. Carlos Rodón has been plagued with injuries throughout his career. He was limited to just 12 starts in 2017 due to left bicep bursitis and left shoulder inflammation. In 2019 he made just seven starts before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery in May. After battling these significant arm injuries, Rodón wanted to prove he could stay healthy.

He was only able to pitch in four games for the White Sox in 2020 due to left shoulder soreness. This is one of the main reasons the White Sox non-tendered him during the offseason. Earlier this season he was placed on the 10-day IL due to left shoulder fatigue which is especially concerning considering how few innings he has pitched.

There is no denying how talented Carlos Rodón is. If the price is right the Chicago White Sox should absolutely bring him back. Unfortunately, his lack of reliability and health concerns are something to seriously consider. With his high price tag, the White Sox would be wise to spend their money elsewhere this offseason.

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