Carlos Rodón’s return to relief can’t be explained, only absorbed

In my write-up of Aaron Bummer’s return to the bullpen Thursday afternoon, I’d mentioned that I had posts in mind for two other pitchers.

One of them was Carlos Rodón, and in between plotting some thoughts yesterday and fleshing them out this morning, I didn’t expect him to be airlifted into a high-leverage bases-loaded situation on Thursday night.

There were no survivors.

Rodón only needed to record one out, and he had a three-run lead, but because the White Sox bullpen fears an MVP would fundamentally change the José Abreu they love, Rodón joined the effort to build José Ramírez’s case instead. After Cesar Hernandez made it a one-run game with a two-run single, Ramírez doubled off the left-center wall for his third go-ahead hit of the series.

You know how a quarterback or running back will award watches, steaks, or some other fine gifts to their offensive lines to share the wealth and recognition from a big season? Abreu should open credit cards in the names of White Sox relievers and transfer some balances. Congratulations, José Ruiz, you’re paying for a Blue Apron subscription.

The debate is whether Rodón should be included, because is he really a reliever? In the eyes of the box score he is, because he took the loss and the blown save, and Rodón didn’t make excuses for failing to close the door. Rick Renteria certainly treated him as a reliever, asking him to put out a fire he didn’t create. He thought Rodón was a decent idea because he’s certainly had to fight his ways out of similar jams.

“He’s a big-league starter,” Renteria said of Rodón. “He’s been in the big leagues going on five years now. He’s handled those types of situations before. Coming off of all the preparation he’s been doing, we weren’t asking him to go through a full inning. It was just going to be trying to get the one out.”

That misses a big element. When Rodón has faced “those types of situations,” it’s because he’s already thrown 20 or so pitches in the inning, building a knowledge of which options are(n’t) working. He doesn’t have any real experience coming in cold to hot zones, especially when it’s his first competitive action in two months.

It was only a week ago when I was praising Renteria’s work as a manager, saying he had handled the more important parts of the job with relative grace. To quote myself in order to emphasize the way he came up short here:

A manager basically has to enforce a certain level of standards, tolerate the inconsistency of young talent, AVOID PUTTING PLAYERS IN A POSITION TO FAIL WHEN BETTER OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE, protect the well being of those he’s in charge of, and realize when he’s making the same mistakes over and over again.

This was not that. As I wrote in the post about Bummer, if he fumbled one of his first high-leverage situations in an attempt to reclaim his old role, there’d at least be something to be gained from the loss — a better understanding of where his abilities stand before the games really count. Renteria tried to frame Rodón’s foundering in a similar light

“We talk about situations that are going to present themselves as we move forward into the postseason,” Renteria said. “Do I want to find out then, or do I want to find out now?”

… but in a bullpen that features Alex Colomé, Codi Heuer, Garrett Crochet, Matt Foster, Bummer and presumably Evan Marshall, when is that use case for Rodón going to occur again? As I see it, if Rodón is used in the postseason, it’s coming in after one of the right-handed starters barely makes it one time through a lineup. Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning and Reynaldo López are all going this weekend against the Cubs to afford Rodón one of those opportunities.

* * * * * * * * *

None of the stated explanations hold water, which leads me to wonder what can’t be said. There’s always the matter of availability, and with just one day off between a stretch of 17 consecutive games and the postseason, it makes sense to lighten the workloads of all the critical relievers, especially since the offense isn’t providing the low-leverage situations with the occasional huge outburst.

Renteria alluded to this, but it’s not something he’ll itemize. He’s not going to say that Foster looked a little ragged after pitching three times in four days if he thought so, or that Heuer and Crochet were out after pitching on consecutive days. If he also wanted to normalize the conditions for Bummer’s return — a half-inning to warm up for a full inning ahead — then all of the remaining options are iffy. Jimmy Cordero was already out there, and Jace Fry is likely a better option against Cesar Hernandez, but not so much against Ramírez or Carlos Santana. It still ends up being unfair to Rodón because of the experience deficit, but it’s a little more explicable when viewed less as a strategy and more as a cry for help.

There’s also the bigger question: What is Carlos Rodón’s future with the White Sox, anyway? He can’t be counted upon to be available enough to be penciled in as a top-six starter, but nobody knows what he looks like as a reliever, so maybe that’s why enough people wearing White Sox pants decided that a crash course in late-inning situations was worth a shot. The game results weren’t rewarding, but in terms of his pitches, he hadn’t found that kind of max velocity in years.

The location wasn’t great, and the slider didn’t look all that intimidating, so I wouldn’t say he even fought half the battle. But there’s probably a reliever there if everybody can hang in there, physically and mentally. Rodón probably won’t see much of a raise on the $4.45 million he’s making this year, and the White Sox throw away that kind of money on a reliever every year (that’s the next post). Perhaps his ill-fated outing on Thursday night was a way of committing to that tomorrow, today.

It cost them a game of a series in which they were swept. The only silver lining is that Renteria has preserved the big picture for the pitching staff. Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel look ready for their starts in the first two games, and he’s mindful of all key relievers being overworked. Few will want to give Renteria the benefit of the doubt. I’m still inclined to help him out in that regard because 1) it paints a fuller picture for our discussions, and 2) the White Sox don’t fire managers, so it seems more useful to work with him than against him. It’d be cool if he could help me out here, and I’m sure he’d appreciate a 12-2 romp over Jon Lester that allows everybody to collect themselves.

(Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire)

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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The white sox don’t fire managers and when they do it seems like they just hire another poor in game tactician.

Greg Nix

This seems like a situation in which Renteria couldn’t see the forest for the trees. There were plenty of reasons to see what Rodon looks like in relief, but none of them outweighed the need to bust a losing streak and lockdown a win against Cleveland heading into playoffs. You really have to be overthinking it to go with Rodon over Bummer with the bases loaded and the hottest hitter in the majors on deck.

I guess in Ricky’s defense, there are only one or two managers in baseball who I’d be totally confident in their decision-making process for that situation, and the Sox already inexplicably passed on Terry Francona.

Greg Nix

I’ll also add that generally speaking, I don’t understand the organization’s faith in Rodon at this point. Yes, he’s theoretically a big arm and a veteran leader, but he hasn’t been a good/healthy major league pitcher in several years.

The Wimperoo

I would up vote this 10 times if possible.

Josh Nelson

I would be shocked if he’s tendered a contract after this season.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I think Jim kind of foreshadowed what might happen, but they did pay Steve Cishek $6MM this year. How much worse could Rodon be?


I am always leery of the “how much worse could (blank) be” semtiments. Pretty fucking worse, in my experience.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Heh. Good point. Let me phrase it another way. Would you rather the Sox go out and sign a guy with a profile like Cishek to round out the bullpen next year, or just pay Rodon his arbitration number?


I thought that Cishek—actual Cishek, not a guy like Cishek—-was a bad signing. I would take Rodon. But there are probably “guys like Cishek” that I would prefer.

I’d be open to bringing back Rodon but only a non-tender and maybe brought back on a 1-2 million USD deal because it’s time to cut our losses. Dunning,Kopech,Crotchet,Kelley are all waiting in the wings.


That is what I thought but then the Sox could have just let him go now. It made sense to try to stretch him out at Schaumburg and see if he could maybe make a start of at least a few innings. But when that fell through, it isn’t clear what the Sox really expected to get

Eagle Bones

To Jim’s point, the price wouldn’t be THAT high, but yeah I’m having a hard time envisioning it as well. Like what would his role even be? Assuming they keep Crochet in the ML pen next year, they would already have 2-3 lefties ahead of him on the depth chart in Bummer, Crochet and even Fry I guess (and Rodon would be the most expensive of the bunch). Maybe use him as more of a long/swing guy? But is that the best role for him given his arm troubles? Seems he’d prob do better with a define role to help him ramp up appropriately. He wouldn’t be in the top 5 starter caliber arms unless a bunch of guys get injured (which I guess is possible). I’m struggling with what will happen with Lopez too, but I’m guessing he would at least be cheaper as an ARB-1, right?


I don’t think the plan is to keep Crochet in the pen next yr. The Sox have said they still plan to develop him as a starter. So I assume he will be in the minors

Eagle Bones

I mean yeah maybe. But it would be tough to take an what could be an elite reliever off the ML roster and send him back to the minors when your roster is built to contend. Have to think there’s a chance he just sticks in the pen.


Don’t forget Detwiler and Bernado Flores Jr. I would put them ahead of Rodon in a LH Relief role.


If Rodon’s velo stays up over the coming days/weeks, I bet they bring him back next year.


I’m not sure what they saw in him past the fire sale. I guess you needed someone to take the ball those years and if you squinted you could see frontline starter for a year or two of contention. But he couldn’t give you the former much less the latter. Granted I’ve always kinda been down on him, but I don’t think there’s too many of us surprised with this outcome.


As to the “silver lining”, Ricky’s bullpen management appears to be leading towards a three game series with the Yankees, against Cole and Tanaka. Quite the silver lining.

karkovice squad

I don’t get Ricky’s decision-making process. It seems either inconsistent or to wildly overrate small differences. Rodon he threw right into the fire as a reliever apparently because he’s a veteran even though almost all that experience is as a starter. Crochet he appropriately gives the courtesy of the boiling frog treatment.

It was a lot easier to swallow those managerial foibles when the roster was providing more than enough cushion for them. Unfortunately, the talent’s reached its predictable limit and now there really isn’t any margin left for costly mistakes.

Ultimately the problem here is with a front office that viewed this as yet another build-and-evaluate season instead of a time to go all in. Ricky’s still managing that way, too, for his part. I guess he’ll use the postseason to answer the question of whether he’ll play for keeps and how he’d do under those circumstances.


To me, it looked like Renteria just wasn’t expecting Cordero to be unable to complete the inning. Rodon and Jimmy actually seemed to start warming up at the same time, despite Cordero entering the game much earlier than Rodon. My guess is Ricky thought that because Carlos is an SP, he would need an extended amount of time to warmup, and that Rodon was actually supposed to start the NEXT inning with a clean slate.

Once things went off the rails and Rodon got enough time in the pen, rather than trying to rush one of the other relievers into a cleanup situation, he went ahead and just brought in the guy who had been warming up for a while. I don’t think the decision was ever even down to Rodon vs. Bummer; I think for Ricky it was always Cordero vs. Rodon.


It is possible. I don’t think he expected Cleveland to clean out their bench for every left handed hitter to bully Cordero and for them to get 4 straight bloop singles. That being said, why shift every time? I haven’t seen the stats for Cordero but are LHB really pulling High 90s Sinkers that often to necessitate it?


Is it even worth watching tonight or is Ricky just going to sabotage us again with one of his Frankenstein reliever experiments?

Eagle Bones

I was complaining about Rodon coming into that situation so loudly and persistently that my wife actually asked me to explain what was going on and why I was so annoyed (normally she just makes of me for getting so worked up or tells me to shut up).


I defend a LOT of Ricky’s bullpen management in post-game threads on here. But even I struggle to think of the reasons to use Rodon there. Heur, Foster and Crotchet run ragged? Understandable. Jose Ruiz can’t be counted on in such a high leverage situation? Also understandable. But any one of Bummer (injury excuse can’t be used because Rodon has been out around the same amount of time), Fry or Colome could’ve been airlifted in there with a lot better chances than Rodon.

Which makes me mad because Big Boss Ross Detwiler was DFAed for this.


Since insuring a spot in the playoffs, the team reminded me of Ventura’s handling of the 2012 season. Ricky seemed to forget there was still something to play for other than.just the playoffs.