Tag Archives: Carlos Rodon

Anderson Ready for 2018

To say that 2017 was a tumultuous season for White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson would be a bit of an understatement. After starting his career under much trepidation as to whether or not the late-bloomer would stick at shortstop, he came into 2017 with something to prove—that all of that trepidation was simply unwarranted.

But, in an unexpected turn of events, the then 23 year-old Anderson suffered the tragic loss of his best friend, Brandon Moss. who was gunned down in early May in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“He was very close to me. More so, a brother. We’re talking seven years of a great relationship. He’s my baby’s God-Dad. I was his a daughter’s God-Dad. It was that type of bond.” Anderson told the media in May.

We often lose sight of the fact that baseball is just a game and, for people such as Anderson, a job. Off-the-field incidents are carried into the fabric of everyday life which, for Anderson, was during the start of arguably the most important year of his young, budding career.

Anderson’s numbers suffered as a result of the tragedy. During the first half of the season, Anderson hit a paltry .240/.263/.369 and committed a record 28 errors on the season. The second-highest fielding error total for the White Sox belonged to Avisail Garcia, who committed only 9 errors in 2017.

Anderson eventually sought help through the work of counselling and the mentorship of the White Sox organization and, by the second half of the season, the team began to see a break-out. Anderson was batting a much healthier .276/.292/.440 with 10 stolen bases and 8 home runs in the second half, and he was clearly on the road to recovery. He was out to prove that the Anderson that showed flashes brilliance during the 2016 season was not far in his rearview mirror.

“They’ve been there for me since that happened, it’s just a great group of guys and an awesome coaching staff and front office, you know they supported me,” Anderson said of the White Sox organization. “They know I’ve been through a lot, it’s just great to have them in my corner and be there for me.”

If the end of the season wasn’t enough to convince you that Anderson was on the path to getting back to his everyday self, seeing the 24 year-old at SoxFest this past weekend certainly reaffirmed any doubts one might have. Rejuvenated, showing off his signature infectious smile, and voicing his enthusiasm for the coming season, Anderson gave off the vibes of a brand new person; strengthened by the trials he’d faced so early in his major league career.

“It’s just, I’m excited about the season, you know,” Anderson said, gazing into the distance as though he was already envisioning the warm breezy nights that are soon to be on deck at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I’m going to go and do what I’m supposed to do and just the ultimate goal is to have fun. I wasn’t having fun last year, it was tough. It flushed me, but you know, I’m back and I feel great.”

“Tim Anderson’s not a finished product, “ General Manager Rick Hahn said during media sessions on Friday afternoon. “Carlos Rodon is not a finished product, despite being in the big leagues for a couple years. It’s part of the reason Ricky [Renteria] and the coaching staff is perfectly suited for this process. They’re all teachers, they all have roots in player development.

“I already knew that,” Anderson said of Hahn’s remark, accompanied by a confident smirk. “I know that the sky’s the limit for me, man. I do everything the right way and treat people the right way so it’s just a matter of time. Just keep working, just keep going. Things will happen, it’s going to be a great season, we got a great group of guys and we’re ready.”

Anderson’s struggles last season were certainly not vain. He understands that in a quickly changing landscape for this team that had been ushering in new young players nearly every week last season, with more to arrive this season, he will be taking on the role of a leader and mentor in 2018. And he’s welcoming that new and exciting challenge with open arms.

“That’s something I’ve definitely thought about,” Anderson said of becoming a clubhouse leader. “You know it’s a new year, I feel great. Man, it’s gonna be great.” Anderson said, as though he was realizing the depths of his excitement right before our eyes. “I’m doing more things, I’m opening up, talking more, so it’s gonna be great to see you know how this year goes with me being vocal and being that leader. I’m excited about it and I’m ready to lead these guys.”

Those comments are a far cry from the lowlights baseball saw from Anderson in 2017. Anderson’s story of success in 2018 will stretch far beyond the numbers and flashy plays on the diamond. His ability to persevere in the face of adversity and tragedy will help him become an example not just to his teammates, present and future, but to many onlookers and fans of the White Sox’s cornerstone “grinder” culture. The moto is that “Ricky’s boys never quit”, and Anderson has quickly become the poster child of that sentiment.

Can Carson Fulmer Fit with the 2018 Sox?

The South Side hype train finally saw a bounty of young, promising talent arrive to their ever-so-scant farm system in 2017. Top prospect Eloy Jimenez, as well as flame-throwing pitcher Michael Kopech, and Reynaldo Lopez were all added to the fold, just to name a few.

With all the rumblings it’s easy to forget that before the banner offseason, there was a promising, young right handed pitcher out of Vanderbilt named Carson Fulmer who was drafted by the White Sox in 2015.

With a powerful three-pitch repertoire, Fulmer was one of the most recognized college pitchers in that draft and was selected eighth overall in a year that was devoid of quality arms. He had a fastball that touched 95 and attended an alma mater known for producing pitchers such as David Price and Sonny Gray.

For the White Sox, Fulmer is every as intriguing as he is frustrating. Though he stands just six-feet tall, he possesses a strong lower build — a feature of framework that usually lends itself to durability in a starting pitchers who throw with the velocity Fulmer does.

But, as time wore on in the minor leagues, it became evident that as plus as his stuff played in the way of strikeouts, Fulmer had mechanical issues that contributed to elevated walk rates and an extremely high flyball rate. Last year, over 23 innings pitched with the White Sox, Fulmer had a nearly 55 percent flyball rate. While only 11 percent of those turned up in the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field that, coupled with being prone to walk batters, are not qualities that bode well for an aspiring starting pitcher.

Just a year ago, Fulmer was ranked the No. 3 White Sox prospect by Baseball America. But with the organization’s recent influx of top-tier talent, Fulmer’s path to becoming a front end or even mid-rotation starter within the organization has been shadowed by a newer, younger, crop that’s arrived what feels like overnight.

So the question then becomes, what is Fulmer’s future with the White Sox now? The visions of his future role within the organization from a long term standpoint have certainly shifted, but not simply because of the shift in prospect depth. Fulmer has shown his cards on a major league mound for nearly 40 innings now.

Fulmer’s flyball rate was extremely high last season and he also lowered his groundball rate significantly from 44 percent in 2016 to just 28 percent in 2017. Perhaps that was a fluky baseball thing, considering the rate at which Major League Baseball saw fly balls increase last season. It’s still promising, whatever the cause could be for the spike in flyball rate, that not many of Fulmer’s fly balls left the yard. However, heavy flyball pitchers with known control issues are somewhat a recipe for disaster as starters.

Which leads one to the idea that, as many had suggested at the start of Fulmer’s career, perhaps he is best relegated to a strong and efficient role in the bullpen. His repertoire which saw increased usage in his cutter and changeup in the majors, while he also utilized his strong four-seam fastball. That combination makes for a strong arsenal for a relief pitcher to possess, especially when it is accompanied with good velocity (his cutter averaged 89 mph in 2017 while his fastball touched 96 mph) and a strikeout per nine of 7.33. All these things will play up well in a bullpen situation.

After depleting their relief staff through a series of trades in 2017, the White Sox surely need to fill those gaps. The White Sox also recently non-tendered Jake Putnam and Jake Petricka, making their bullpen staff even thinner. Fulmer would be a interesting solution to the White Sox’s immediate need.

While Fulmer may not retain much value in a trade as opposed to the value he can provide staying in the White Sox organization, it’s crucial that the White Sox remain vigilant in their pursuit to work on perfecting Fulmer’s development. Mechanical issues, getting him to stay tall on the mound, and keep his pitches in the zone while producing more ground ball contact will help the organization really understand what role he is suited best for in the coming years with the White Sox. Fulmer’s development is not over, and neither the importance he brings to the organization, it’s simply being reassigned.

An Ace Up His Sleeve?

After posting a 6.75 ERA during his stint with the Washington Nationals in 2016—which was followed by rumors that the team had tweaked his mechanics—there was lingering concern about White Sox newcomer Lucas Giolito. Giolito came as the headliner in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to Washington last December, teeing off the White Sox’s rebuilding efforts.

The trepidation was warranted as the 23 year-old certainly came with a mildly concerning resume. Giolito fell to the 16th round of the 2012 draft due to concerns about a sprained UCL, after many thought he would be taken in the first. Shortly after the draft, the Nationals scheduled Giolito for Tommy John surgery. Once he returned, the team began to work with Giolito on changing his delivery and, suddenly, the pitcher everyone expected to go in the first round looked as though his stock may be falling rapidly.

That was all before White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, though. Cooper has become renowned for helping reinvent pitchers simply by showing them how to maximize their efforts while being true to themselves on the mound. Cooper isn’t interested in stat sheets; he’s interested in good old-fashioned feel for the game.

“I don’t think his first trip to the big leagues with us could have went any better,” Cooper said enthusiastically of Giolito’s season. “It couldn’t have gone better.”

Giolito was shut down during the final week of the season for precautionary reasons and did not make his last scheduled start. “He’s had enough innings,” Cooper said. “There’s nothing left to prove this year. There’s nothing really to gain.”

Giolito seemed just as satisfied with his success this season as Cooper was.

“Overall, this was such a crazy year,” Giolito said. “I started not the way I wanted to. I had to kind of get over some trials and tribulations down in the Minor Leagues trying to fix some things, trying to find myself and see who I was as a pitcher.”

Giolito threw 45.1 innings over seven starts for the big league club, averaging just over six innings per start to the tune of a 2.38 ERA and 6.75 K/9. He lowered his walk rate from 5.05 BB/9 with the Nationals to just 2.38 with the White Sox.

“He’s throwing strikes with four pitches,” Cooper said. “He’s got angles, he can change speeds, he can ride the ball up in the zone. He’s done everything. He’s been great.”

But for Giolito, his sights are already set on new goals for 2018. “For me, it’s get prepared to throw 200 innings,” Giolito said. “I threw, like, 175-ish this year. I feel like the next step is to get to 200. So that will be a personal goal for me next season.”

“Obviously his stuff was lights out then, his stuff is lights out now,” catcher Kevan Smith said of Giolito’s time in the minors. “I think this year is just boosted his confidence. He can see that he can perform at this level.”

Giolito may have had to work through his trials and tribulations but it’s become evident that the Giolito that once was regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball is still alive and well.

“I feel very confident,” Giolito said. “I’ve hit that point where I trust all my pitches in any count, any situation. I feel like that’s what a top end of the rotation guy has to be able to do is pitch deep into games and put up as many zeroes as possible and at the same time trust all your stuff.”

The White Sox may have moved on from Eaton, who was considered a key piece of their future during the team’s prior attempt at contention, but what they’ve gained in Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who also came in the Eaton deal, are two young pitchers who have showed the ability to perform at the major league level and will become a pivotal piece of this club’s bright future.

“His personality and just the way he goes about his business, he’s a smart kid,” former White Sox pitcher Miguel Gonzalez said of Giolito. “He likes to learn, he asks questions just like any other guy that’s been getting called up “

With Carlos Rodon no longer a lock to begin the season with the club, the time is now for Giolito to step up to that 200-inning goal. He’ll be leaned on heavily in the near future, something that will help him become accustomed to that feeling for the coming years.

Perhaps for Giolito, all it took was getting back to basics coupled with regaining confidence. And of course, a little Don Cooper magic.

Rodon Has Surgery, Opening Day ’18 In Question

White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn told reporters at Guaranteed Rate Field today that left hander Carlos Rodon underwent arthroscopic surgery to fix a “significant case of bursitis” in his left shoulder. The procedure was preformed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal El Attrache  and Rodon’s tentative timeline for return is in six to eight months. That timeline, obviously, puts his Opening Day status in question. The diagnoses for Rodon, who started the year on the disabled list with bursitis, is about as good as the White Sox could hope for, Hahn said. Rodon’s biceps and labrum were fine and the injury was limited to the bursitis in his shoulder.

In total, Rodon started 12 games for the White Sox in 2017. His season debut didn’t arrive until June 28th as he rehabbed his ailing shoulder in Arizona to start the year. Although his ERA was 4.15 over the 69.1 innings he threw, Rodon was able to lock things in and give White Sox fans a glimpse of his potential for a stretch of six starts from late July into August. Over those six, Rodon went 40 innings with a 2.93 ERA and struck out 48 hitters while walking only 12.

It’s not the first injury for Rodon. He sprained his wrist in the 2016 season, which interrupted a comeback-type second half, and injuries have kept sightings of that type of performances to just a glimpse.

Rodon will turn 25 before the end of the year and, even at such a young age, could very well be the “elder statesman” in the White Sox rotation. Only James Shields, who has one year left on his deal, is older and Rodon, should he make the full recovery that he and the White Sox hope for, has plenty of potential to keep White Sox fans dreaming about his return all winter.

While Rodon heals, the White Sox rebuild rolls on. There are a number of young, talented arms in the minors (Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, and Dane Dunning to name a few) that could push for starts late in the 2018 campaign. How Rodon fits back in will largely be a question of health.

Moncada has Landed

“He’s an outstanding player and I’m going to be here right by his side to help him with anything he needs.”

The gleam in White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu’s eyes was unmistakable Wednesday afternoon as the media gathered around him to ask questions unrelated to him for nearly ten minutes. Abreu couldn’t have seemed more sincere and heartfelt when he spoke of new White Sox second baseman, friend, and fellow countryman Yoan Moncada.

Moncada was called up after a flurry of moves after Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. One of them included the recall of baseball’s number one prospect. Somehow, from the small Cuban town that is Cienfuegos, located about 150 miles from Havana, Abreu and Moncada managed to reunite. This time, on the game’s biggest stage.

“When I made my debut with this team Alexei [Ramirez] and [Adrian] Nieto were here and they helped me a lot to get through this new process, to get through that first season,” Abreu said recounting his White Sox debut in 2014. “I appreciate that. And that’s why now I want to give Moncada as much as I know and as much help as I can give him,” Abreu continued. “It’s an honor, to be playing with someone who is from my same country, and from my same town and that’s why I take a lot of pride in helping him to get better.”

Abreu even went as far as becoming Moncada’s personal driver, picking him up at the airport upon his arrival to Chicago. “I asked him in the morning if he can pick me up at the airport and he did it,” Moncada said. “I was glad to see him there and we talked a little about everything—nothing in specific.” These two go way back, Moncada remembers  Abreu as “the superstar” of their hometown when he was just 15-years-old. “At that moment in Cuba, he was the best player in the country,” Moncada said.

The emotions flew in the clubhouse during this Dodgers series. Pregame Tuesday consisted of the media zooming in on how Todd Frazier handled trade rumours, and just 24-hours later, three vacant lockers that belonged to former teammates were quickly identifiable. All the while, the number one prospect in baseball was suddenly present in his new environment.

“Those are two different moments,” Abreu said of the quick turnover. “From one end we are saying goodbye to good friends, good teammates, people who you play with for two years and people that you care about. But on the other hand we are happy because Moncada was coming up. I was really happy for him and to have him here. But it was a very bittersweet situation.”

The energy around the ballpark was unmistakable, as fans gathered around to get a glimpse of Moncada on the field, shower him with boxes of Twinkies, his favorite snack, and to witness a turning point of the White Sox rebuild began to slowly take shape.

“I think it’s the beginning of what hopefully will be a transition from a lot of the youth we’ve been accumulating in the system,” Renteria said pre-game on Wednesday. “Everybody in the organization felt it was time for him to be a part of the White Sox.”

Despite the box score showing Moncada recording no hits and one walk in his debut, watching Moncada’s three plate appearances showed a strong and very disciplined plate approach.

Moncada’s saw an impressive nine pitches from Dodgers’ starter Kenta Maeda to start his White Sock career, and quickly found himself in an 0-2 count before working a walk, prompting what was likely the most heralded walk baseball has seen in quite a while. “I was excited, I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said of his first trip to the plate at the corner of 35th and Shields. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

Moncada was also down 0-2 in his second plate appearance of the night, working himself to a 2-2 count before grounding out. He quickly got himself into a 2-0 count during his final plate appearance of the evening, one in which he would line out on a ball scorched to centerfield.

“I felt good. I think that I executed my plan,” Moncada said postgame. “I didn’t get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan. I was very comfortable with the strike zone. I was very aware of the strike zone.”

Manager Rick Renteria had high praise for his new second baseman after Wednesday’s rain shortened contest as well. “He looked very comfortable,” Renteria said. “Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

The 9-1 loss may have been dismal for Carlos Rodon and the White Sox, but the South Side came away with true hope for their future on Wednesday evening. The box scores may read that the Dodgers swept the Sox, but the Sox came away with a win this series in their own right. Baseball’s shiny new number one prospect in pinstripes.

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.

Welcome Back, Carlos

The last time the White Sox saw 24 year-old starter Carlos Rodon on a Major League mound was September 30th of 2016. He struck out 10 batters and walked just three.

In the previous start, he had struck out 11 and, also, walked just three batters. You get the picture. Rodon had found his groove last season. But after being sidelined with left bicep bursitis that kept him off the mound at Guaranteed Rate Field until Wednesday night, Rodon had gathered some noticeable rust.

Rodon pitched five innings and issued six walks, a product of his wildness on the mound, while striking out just two batters with no earned runs. He threw 94 pitches, a count that White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he would be foolish to not keep an eye on, yet only 41 of those pitches went for strikes. But the box score doesn’t always paint the full picture. Watching Rodon’s return left the White Sox hopeful that the pitcher they saw last season was surely on his way back.

“I think that as he continues to pitch here it’s going to continue to get better,” Renteria said after Rodon’s outing against the Yankees on Wednesday night. “Obviously toward the last year where he was starting to really kind of get a feel for everything, I think that will come back at some point.”

The evening ended in defeat, as the White Sox fell 12-3 to the Yankees, but there were a few takeaways from Rodon’s evening that are worth noting.

Often one of the biggest fears when a pitcher suffers an injury and setback is a drop in velocity, especially when said pitcher isn’t one who pumps gas off the mound every time out. Rodon put those worries to rest Wednesday night as his fastball reached a healthy velocity–as high as 97 mph–and his slider touched 89mph. That’s something you don’t often see from starters their first time out, especially after returning from a quite serious stint on the DL.

Rodon has always had a ton of movement on his pitches which is one of the reasons his slider has been such a nasty and successful pitch for him. For Rodon, however, something that has always come along with that movement is an inability to command his pitches and keep them in the strike zone. He worked hard on perfecting that last season but, after being away for some time, he saw some of his command issues rear its ugly head.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said of his erratic command after Wednesday’s start. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“He has a lot of life,” Renteria said. “You could see [Omar Narvaez] going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run. He’s got some tremendous life. He’s just trying to harness to the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

Rodon threw 61 fastballs Wednesday evening, with only 33 going for strikes. He also threw 19 sliders, only four of which went for strikes. The slider and changeup were Rodon’s wildest pitches on the evening, most of which were just not able to stay inside the zone. Rodon’s fastball, however, was missing the plate narrowly most times and was simply just not generating swings and misses.

Obviously, with the Yankees already having one of the most patient plate approaches around and knowing this was Rodon’s first start of the season, they were probably less likely to swing at Rodon’s offerings to begin with.

Rodon mainly relied on his fastball, only throwing his changeup — an offering he learned to work with as a strong third pitch last season — just seven times, only one of which was swung on. Once Rodon becomes more comfortable back on the mound and feels a better ability to command his breaking pitches, expect to see more of the movement-heavy sequences that Rodon quickly became known for.

Despite the loss and the struggles he faced, Rodon was clearly happy to be back with his teammates. “It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching for sure,

“Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for,” Rodon said. Considering the trials the White Sox rotation has been through recently, that really is all they can ask for.

White Sox Weekly (06-25-2017) Part 2

Connor McKnight hosts PART 2 of this week’s White Sox Weekly. We re-live the Mark Buehrle #56 retirement ceremony, with speeches from Sox TV Play by Play announcer Hawk Harrelson, Pitching Coach Don Cooper, White Sox Hall Of Famer Frank Thomas, and of course Mark Buehrle himself. We also listen back to a conversation between Buehrle, and the White Sox Radio Broadcast Team Ed Farmer, and Darrin Jackson. Connor keeps us up to date with the status of White Sox Pitcher Carlos Rodon, with Rodon’s own comments about coming back to the big leagues, as well as Manager Ricky Renteria’s pre-game comments about Rodon’s return to the White Sox starting rotation.

Carlos Rodon’s Return is Near

It’s a strange season on the South Side; the All-Star Break is quietly approaching, yet baseball hasn’t seen Carlos Rodon throw a single pitch in the majors yet.

Rodon’s biceps bursitis has left him sidelined since spring–an injury that seemingly creeped up out of nowhere–the White Sox and Rodon continually claiming that Rodon felt fine. Yet, here we are in June, and clearly, that was not the case.

But after a few rehab starts it’s beginning to sound like the young lefty who holds much promise for the future of the White Sox will make his triumphant return to the big leagues quite soon. Possibly even next week.

“It’s possible, absolutely,” Manager Rick Renteria said of Rodon returning next week before Saturday’s game one night after Rodon suffered a rough outing with the Charlotte Knights. “I think our plans are probably to get him back with us,” Renteria added when asked if he thought Rodon needed another start before returning to the South Side.

Rodon pitched 4.1 innings against the Durham Bulls on Friday, allowing seven earned runs, two walks and seven strikeouts. The final line for Rodon may not have been extremely promising for a pitcher who may make his return to the rotation in just a few days, however, the important factors were all checked off the list for Renteria. “Actually, in talking to everybody, he threw pretty well,” Renteria said. “Had a couple miscues in the field that were probably limited his outing. He felt good, pain-free, we’re very happy with that. According to the reports, the slider was working very well. He’s on track to come on back.”

Renteria also mentioned that Rodon’s velocity was good: a strong indication that he’s reaching a point in which he’s ready to make his return to the big league mound. Rodon’s fastball reached a speeds as high as 96 mph Friday evening.

“We just want him back simply because [Rodon] is a good big league starter and we want to have him continue to improve on what he’s been doing over the past couple of years. It’s not the way we’d have wanted him to have started his return back to 2017, but it is what it is. We’re going to be happy to have him back,” Renteria said.

Rodon has compiled a 3.90 ERA in 304 innings pitched since his debut, and saw considerable rise in success once he began to gain feel for his changeup — a pitch that needed much refinement to give Rodon a strong third pitch to go with his already devastating slider and good fastball. Rodon’s uptick in changeup usage came in the second half of 2016, when he threw the pitch between 20 and 26 percent of the time and saw his whiff rate on the pitch jump consistently to around 15 percent. Rodon also gained much sharper command of his changeup, seeing his walk rate on the pitch drop from 15.6 percent in 2016 to just 5.9 percent in 2017. This helped Rodon bring his strikeout rate up to 9.16 per nine innings in 2016, while dropping his walk rate to 2.95 per nine — down from 4.95 in his first season.

“I still think he’s getting better, absolutely,” Renteria said of Rodon. “He’s got a couple years under his belt in the big leagues here with the White Sox, and every year including last we started to see more and more improvement. That’s why it was unfortunate that he was unable to break 2017 with us, but he’s going to come back and continue to hopefully improve.”

An unfortunate break at an unfortunate time. The White Sox, who have been renowned as an organization for keeping their pitchers healthy, have seen a plethora of their starting pitching hit the disabled list in just the first two months of the season, including most recently starter Miguel Gonzalez. The White Sox need reliable starting pitching more than ever, and with the return of James Shields to the rotation and likely Rodon in the near future, the puzzle is starting to look a bit less haphazard.

“Health is the most important thing for these guys to be able to have the chance to perform,” Renteria said of the flurry of injuries that have recently plagued the White Sox, and not just on the mound. “I’m glad we’re moving in that direction, and once they’re out on the field hopefully they’ll have the health to try to perform and help us win ballgames on a daily basis.”

Though they’re in the midst of a rebuild, there have been some exciting times this season on the South side in their own right. Seeing Rodon make his return to the mound as a symbol of part of the Sox’s youth movement and key piece in the club’s future will certainly be another one to add to the list.

Opening Day is Upon Us

When the White Sox hit the field to start the 2017 season at Guaranteed Rate, the wait for baseball will be over. There will be more waiting, however, as rumors of franchise altering trades have persisted through spring.

Pieces of the organization’s future will certainly be seen. The Sox anointed Tim Anderson as a franchise short stop with a long term extension. When he’s healthy, Carlos Rodon will work to prove himself an Ace.
Others, like Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson, are ties to the past with clear impact on the future. When and if the veterans are traded, the analysis of the prospect haul will begin anew. So far, the players received from the Red Sox and Nationals in the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton trades have gone through a fairly typical national reception.
First, the hauls were lauded. Then, expectations were tempered by the Sox front office with GM Rick Hahn telling all who would listen that prospects would be given time to grow in the minors. Call-up dates were pondered and calendar dates circled by fans and press. Prospects were reevaluated after spring training performances that may or may not mean anything.
It’s baseball as usual.
The gravity of this season can’t be denied. The White Sox have laid out the path they’re on. There’s been no mincing of words. Watching minor league results and trade rumors will be as much a part of evaluating on field talent.
For our part, on the Post Game Show and White Sox Weekly, we know that’s where the focus will be. We’ll bring you updates from Charlotte, Birmingham, WInston-Salem, and Kannapolis. We’ll talk trade rumors and entertain trade ideas from fans.
While the business of rebuilding a franchise is a serious one, let’s not forget that baseball is fun and there’s fun to be had while a young team grows. We won’t discourage that.
So, Sox fans, through the cold (and rain?) of opening day through the trade deadline and barreling through the dog days of August, we want you involved with the broadcast here on WLS. The Sox have chosen to reshape the franchise and you can come along for the ride with us.

Big Day for News with Young Sox Pitchers

Sunday was a day full of news for three young pitchers in White Sox camp. The oldest of the news-making trio, Carlos Rodon, threw his second bullpen session. He threw 35 pitches (and felt, presumably, much better than while throwing his first bullpen of the year) and seemed to focus on the changeup. Rodon will throw his first live batting practice on Wednesday and could make his Cactus League debut as soon as March 13th against the Indians. The White Sox maintain that the schedule for Rodon has him on track to make a start in the first time through the rotation.

The youngest of the three pitchers, Michael Kopech, was slated to work against the Diamondbacks on Sunday but had his work rescheduled for Tuesday. Kopech, who gave up four earned in one inning of work in his first start, will throw 3 innings in a simulated game. The idea is to control the conditions of Kopech’s outing and allow him to work on specific pitches in addition to getting stretched out more. The move doesn’t shift the high expectations the Sox have for Kopech as he’s still one of the brightest stars in the system. Still, the plan was always for him to start in the minors–perhaps AA or even high A.

The middle child, Reynaldo Lopez, debut his electric stuff and improving command in three innings of one run ball against he Diamondbacks Sunday. Lopez was a bit wild in the first inning and gave up two doubles and a run but finished the day throwing more strikes with the fastball in the second and third innings. He also struck out Paul Goldschmidt, one of the of the best hitters in the game, twice–one looking, one swinging.

All in all, good news for the young White Sox pitchers as the young Spring gets just a little older.

Bangs, Bruises and the A-OK: All the Latest from the White Sox

After opening Cactus League play with a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers, the morning before Game Two of Spring was spent catching up with some of the White Sox walking wounded. Fortunately for the Sox, none of the injured are all that banged up, and Spring Training is longer than usual this year due to the World Baseball Classic.

Let’s start with the banged up:

Todd Frazier– A side/oblique injury (he’s termed it as both over the last few days) has pushed him out of action. He hopes to resume baseball activity on Monday and doesn’t think the injury is all that serious.

Charlie Tilson– A stress reaction continues to sideline the could-be Sox centerfielder. Tilson seems understandably bummed by the problem (it’s his first spring where there’s a job he could easily win) but was prepared for a “set-back” type injury stemming from his hamstring pull last season. It’s a long road back but Tilson has extended runway this spring.

Brett Lawrie– He’s spoken to reporters twice this spring and updated them on his battle back from orthotics. He wore them for the first time last season, came down with a host of nebulous and migrating leg injuries, and hasn’t been back to 100% yet. Lawrie stressed there’s no lingering “soreness” but that he’s rehabbing to get “everything aligned properly.” It’s his contention that once he’s able to move around confidently, he’ll be back on the field.

I’m just fine, thanks:

Carlos Rodon– Is just fine, thank you. He hasn’t thrown much at all this spring but the 24-year old lefty reassured reporters that it’s all part of a plan to last deep into the season this year. Rodon said he has a live BP session coming up later this week before he gets into game action. It’s odd to think that Rodon, who’s thrown 304.1 MLB innings could be the ace of the White Sox staff before too long. Jose Quintana is the biggest piece on the trade block and, should the White Sox move him, it leaves Rodon as perhaps the most talented starter on the roster.

Ricky Renteria, Todd Frazier and the latest from White Sox Spring Training

White Sox manager Ricky Renteria got the press up to speed on how his camp is going and the status of third baseman Todd Frazier. While a strained said doesn’t seem to be a cause for alarm, Renteria stressed slowing Frazier down some and erring on the side of caution.

Frazier said his injury is in the oblique area and something he’s felt before. While he’s not too worried at present, he knows oblique strains can cost a significant amount of time. If you’re going to get hurt, do it early in Spring–there’s plenty of time to rest up.

So, while Frazier rests up and is day to day, the every day of Spring Training marches on. The White Sox haven’t yet announced their starting pitcher for the Cactus League Opener on February 25th against the Dodgers but, with Jose Quintana working to throw in the World Baseball Classic and Carlos Rodon on a very different spring diet than the rest of the starters, a good guess would be one of the younger guys with just a bit of big league experience. Carson Fulmer threw a live BP on Monday so perhaps the schedule works out that he takes the ball to open Spring for the White Sox.

Just a guess.

Saturday’s White Sox Weekly will be jam packed with interviews from Michael Kopech, Zach Putnam and GM Rick Hahn so make sure to tune in.

With Rodon to DL, Sox need a spot start

White Sox starter Carlos Rodon will need a trip to the 15-day disabled list after slipping on the dugout steps and spraining his pitching wrist. While it’s not the best of circumstances for a team to lose a starter, especially to something so freakish as a slip and fall, the All Star break helps with the timing and could mean that the White Sox need only use a spot starter twice–perhaps even once–while Rodon rests up.

It’s not been smooth trip through for Rodon through the first half of his sophomore season. There have been bumps in the road and they have been sizable. I still like the ability and the potential quite a bit, however. Not all pitchers are Chris Sale. They don’t just arrive at the Big League level and dominate the way Sale, who’s now a five-time All Star, did when moved into the rotation. Rodon, particularly because his deficiency seems to be fastball command on a start-to-start basis, is more subject to volatility than others. He can be particularly nasty but, because of a susceptibility to deeper counts, is vulnerable to batters having seen him longer and taking advantage of the added information.

As the White Sox return to the second half against the Angels, figure Jose Quintana to get the first start of the unofficial second half. James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez, in either order, are likely to be the second and third starters out of the gate while Sale, pitching in the All Star game on three days rest, will make the fourth start of the second half Monday against the Mariners. Tuesday would see someone called up from the minor leagues to make a spot start but it’s anyone’s guess as to who that might be.

A longshot, and an interesting one at that, would be Carson Fulmer. Fulmer, the Sox first round pick in 2015 has been on somewhat of a roll of late. His last three starts have been promising. On June 26th he went seven scoreless innings, gave up two hits and two walks and struck out seven. July 1st saw him go seven scoreless again and strikeout five while walking three and giving up three hits. July 6th he went 5 innings and gave up two earned on five hits en route to striking out 10 and walking three.

The White Sox were aggressive with his assignment to AA in the first place and the conversations both public and private have been optimistic about Fulmer’s potential to help out at the major league level this season. A spot start, with the addendum of him moving into the major league bullpen afterward, might give the Sox a chance to evaluate his arsenal against major league hitters and shape his plan as a reliever going down the line in 2016. While the promotion to the Major Leagues would be an aggressive one, Fulmer seems to be a kid who’s able to process the accelerated path the Sox have chosen for him so far and understands what’s being asked of him.

Plus, it’d just be fun to see what he’s got.

First order of business this weekend, however, is to take the last two against the Atlanta Braves and head into the All Star Break four games over .500. The Sox have Jose Quintana and James Shields throwing in the final two games of the season and both pitched very well their last time out.

Enjoy these last two and the break! We’ll have more White Sox baseball Friday, July 15th when the White Sox take on the Angels on WLS AM 890 and the White Sox radio network.