Carlos Rodon‘s injury-filled season started in spring training when he was held out of drills with little explanation other than they had wanted him to take it slow as he would have a heavier workload given the number of trades in the off-season. Limited to one start in Arizona, Rodon underwent a number of different medical examinations. These revealed no structural damage, but he started the season on the disabled list with what was termed bicep tightness.
Carlos Rodon’s Injury-Filled 2017 Delays Debut
The stint on the DL turned out to be much longer than originally anticipated, he did not make his first start in 2017 until June 28 against the New York Yankees. Understandably, he struggled in the early going posting a 1-3 record with a 5.75 ERA in his first four starts including a notably poor outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in which he allowed four home runs in 3-2/3 innings.
In a bizarre start, versus the hometown rival Chicago Cubs, Rodon showed both his promise and his limitations. His final stat line displayed four runs, seven hits, three walks and a mind-boggling 11 strikeouts in four innings before being pulled after 98 pitches. He also collected his first MLB hit in the game.
Rodon Rebounds after Rough Start
Rodon rebounded to finish the season with some respectable numbers. In 12 starts, he posted a 4.15 ERA allowing 64 hits, 12 of them leaving the yard. In 69.1 innings, he walked 31 and struck out 76 for a better than 2-1 ratio. He posted a positive WAR of 1.3 to go with a middling WHIP of 1.37; rather pedestrian numbers for the third overall pick in the 2014 draft. Still, the team was encouraged with his progress coming off an injury and his stellar strikeout to walk ratio.
It’s the Slider Stupid
Coming out of the draft, scouts considered his wipeout slider the best breaking ball in the class. Throwing from the left-side his fastball reaches 97 MPH, but is more consistently in the 92-95 range. Some scouts have compared Rodon to Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. His slider is not only powerful, but breaks late with depth. His ability to vary the pitch into what resembles a hard cutter makes it even more difficult for hitters to adjust, thus the high strikeout totals.
Building Block or Trading Chip
With this type of stuff, the White Sox are penciling him at the top of the rotation when the team plans to contend circa 2020. But given the depth of pitching in the farm system, he could chisel his way from the current status of a building block to a trading chip that could bring in additional prospects, or a major leaguer to fill a hole in the next two to three years.
Season Ends Prematurely
Like the year began, Rodon was placed on the disabled list on September 8 with shoulder inflammation ending his season. Medical examinations did not uncover anything more serious as it was feared it could be a chronic problem, based on the shoulder bursitis he suffered in March. He’s expected to be ready to compete for the number one starting job in Spring Training. The White Sox hope to see more pitches for strikes and more flailing bats in Chicago next April.
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