Rodon Faces the Hottest Team in Baseball

It’s been three starts since Carlos Rodon came off the disabled list and, though he’s holding an elevated ERA of 4.32 with a nearly matching FIP of 4.16, White Sox manager Rick Renteria is happy with the results he’s seen from Rodon so far.

“Actually, we’ve just been very, very happy that he’s been healthy coming back from the injury,” Renteria said. “He’s actually not done too bad, he continues to develop as a pitcher.”

Rodon has had a few quirks along the way, including having to battle the elements of pitching at Coors Field during his third start of the season, an outing in which Rodon allowed six earned runs.

“It’s a good-hitting team, man,” Rodon told the media postgame. “I tried to stay aggressive, but not much of anything was working. I was kind of inconsistent in and out of zone. The slider wasn’t there, but I tried to make things happen.”

Erratic command has been the main issue Rodon has had since his return to the rotation–something that has always lingered for Rodon. In 16.2 innings pitched, Rodon has walked 12 batters.

But the command has slowly been coming along for Rodon, even during that less than pleasant start at Coors Field. Check out the details on his pitch repertoire over his first three starts:

New York:

  Pitches Strike% Swing% Whiff%
FA 61 54.1 34.4 3.3
CH 1 (1) 14.3 (1) 14.3 0
SL 19 21.1 21.1 10.5


@ Oakland:

  Pitches Strike% Swing% Whiff%
FA 43 58.1 44.2 20.9
CH 18 77.8 61.1 38.9
SL 29 56.8 51.7 31


@ Colorado:

  Pitches Strike% Swing% Whiff%
FA 57 59.6 38.6 7
CH 12 33.3 33.3 8.3
SL 24 58.3 50 16.7


Rodon has begun to incorporate his signature slider back into his mix and it’s producing results in a manner that became standard late last season for the young lefty.

The changeup, a pitch that really brought together Rodon’s mix, didn’t produce strong results in Colorado. But, if you look back to just one start earlier in Oakland, Rodon was able to generate swings on 11 of the 18 changeups he dealt, seven of which batter swung at. Of course Colorado’s hearty offense, combined with the effects of Coors Field, likely didn’t make a great recipe for success for Rodon. The important part, however, is that he still got batters to swing at pitches a ton more than he did in his first start. Plus, he’s walked just three hitters in each of the last two starts. He walked six in his previous outing against the Yankees.

Now, Rodon will take on a new task in his second home outing of the season. He will face a new, unfamiliar interleague offense in the Dodgers, who happen to be red hot and on a 10-game winning streak. Entering the series, the Dodgers lineup is hitting .257/.343/.451 with a wRC+ of 111–a bit above league average.

However, the Dodgers currently own the sixth-highest strikeout rate in the NL, nearly 23 percent, which just removes them from the top third highest strikeout rates of NL teams. One thing Rodon will need to be wary of though is the Dodger plate discipline — they currently have the highest walk rate in the National League at 10.8 percent.

“I think he’s got an excellent arm, we’re just try to get him to be more efficient, “ Renteria said of Rodon. “Sometimes he get into high pitch counts early, but when he commands the strike zone, like all pitchers, he can get through any lineup frankly, I think.”

Renteria makes a fair point. Rodon has had issues with the second inning in his last two starts, raking up the pitch count to 29 pitches against Oakland in the second inning, and 23 against Colorado. Efficiency and hitting his spots will be crucial against this patient, and strong Dodger offense.

Rodon shows a ton of promise coming into the season, and as Renteria pointed out, is maintaining good health after spending upwards of two months on the disabled list with shoulder bursitis. Perhaps starting against a decent Dodgers lineup won’t be the best way to continue to gauge Rodon’s progress in his triumphant return to the mound, but it certainly isn’t a bad one to truly put Rodon to the test, either.