When the Chicago White Sox began their rebuild with the Chris Sale trade last December, there were two players seen on the roster from last season seen as pieces for the rebuild. One player was shortstop Tim Anderson and the other was starting pitcher Carlos Rodon who was projected and expected to be the anchor for starting rotation for years to come.
Rondon was selected with third overall pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft and was regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in that year’s draft.
He quickly made his way through the White Sox minor league system as he made his Major league debut in May 2015 drawing comparisons to ace Chris Sale for his rapid ascension through the minors in less than one year’s time.
Heading into 2017 season, Rodon was projected to be the White Sox number two starter before a bicep injury to his throwing arm landed him on the disabled list with many fearing structural damage to his arm and possibly missing the entire 2017 season.
With structural damage to his arm, The White Sox took the best route to make sure Rodon was fully healthy before allowing him to make his debut on June 28th. Rodon had mixed results in his first few starts back but has shown signs of an ace over the last month.
After a mixed outing against the defending champion Chicago Cubs on July 25th where he struck out 11 but surrendered four earned runs, Rodon has rattled off five straight quality starts for the White Sox as he has an earned run average of 1.80 and seven strike outs during the run.
The consistency of those quality starts is important to note for the White Sox, as earlier in the year the team had a stretch of just three quality starts by their starting pitchers in 15 games.
Furthermore, it is important to note the level of competition Rodon has pitched well against. Four of the five quality starts came consecutively against 1st places teams in the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers. That includes two of the best teams in baseball with the Astros and Dodgers.
In those two starts alone, Rodon allowed just two runs a piece and pitched an average of 7.2 innings. It’s that consistency against quality teams has drawn questions as to whether if he has matured into the pitcher the Sox organization and fan base believed he could be.
There have been flashes over Rodon’s two and half years in the majors as in his last two starts of the 2016 season, he reached double digit strike outs in both games and struck out seven consecutive batters in the last start. In his rookie season, he finished the season with eight straight quality starts with receiving credit for the win in five of eight of the starts.
The flashes of success have been there for Rodon over the years, but injuries have stunted his consistency and growth. With the bicep injury this season, what was feared as a lost season has turned into a successful one if Rodon keeps this pace.
With the team’s unofficial goal to end up with the first overall pick in next years draft, his success this season make the team’s decision in regards to pitching easier.
The decent debut performances of Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito over the past two weeks mixed with the current success of minor leagues Alec Hansen and Michael Kopech gives promise that the White Sox may have their five man starting rotation of the future with Rodon at the top.