Spare Parts: Carlos Rodón emerges from the wilderness

Carlos Rodón has a no-hitter to his name, but his six-inning, 13-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Friday might’ve been the most dominant performance of his career.

That requires a little bit of subjectivity, and probably a little bit of recency bias. He got 23 swings and misses, second only to a victory in Oakland back in 2017, in which Statcast says he enticed 26 whiffs. But he also allowed seven baserunnners that game, whereas Rodón only allowed a pair of singles on Friday.

In terms of game score, it’s third (81) behind a pair starts against Cleveland — the aforementioned no-no, and 11 strikeouts over eight innings back in 2016. The latter outing was his penultimate start of his sophomore season, which he followed with a 10-strikeout victory over Minnesota to cap his season.

The final two starts ended an encouraging final two months, as Rodón went 7-2 with a 3.11 ERA and 70 strikeouts over 66⅔ innings that August and September. If Rodón were to have followed that finish with the way he’s started his 2021 season, nobody would’ve been shocked.

OK, that’s not true, because Rodon’s line is astounding for anybody who hasn’t challenged for a Cy Young before. I mean it more in the sense that it seems at least somewhat connected to how he finished the season before:


In this case, howevever, it’s not the season before. It’s a season before, after which there were four seasons where any similar success was fleeting. The season before finished in a pitiful fashion, with Rodón bombing in two of three relief appearances, and those games riding heavily on how he fared.

James Fegan picks it up there in a well-timed story for The Athletic. Despite recovering just about all his fastball velocity, Rodón was as far from being a viable starting pitcher as ever. The following non-tender was what he needed to embrace changes, even if he wasn’t exactly sure what they needed to be. He just knew that he couldn’t pin it on injuries anymore.

(Also, toward the top of the story, Rodón explains through Fegan what Ethan Katz meant by the jargon “quad-dominant” and “getting in his toe.”)

Perhaps poor health will resurface to bite him, but Rodón is repeating his results well enough to suggest that he’s finally mastered a repeatable delivery, which eliminates the in-season concerns he can most control. If he can sustain this level of excellence for the bulk of the season, he’s put himself in a great position to cash in.

Contractually and financially, Rodón’s timing seems almost perfect. He got non-tendered rather than received salary arbitration last offseason. But by December, he will be a 29-year-old free agent (among the youngest in the class) who seems to be peaking in terms of physical health, stuff and results all at once, and it seems like it will come while pitching in meaningful games for a contender. This is not quite how he sums it all up. The little 10-second demo with his toe is several years overdue.

“I wish I knew this when I was 22 when I came up, it’d be a lot better,” Rodón said with another laugh, which seems to come easy now.

He sees only grand purpose in the non-tender. It’s not because he treasured the motivation of unemployment, but because he so singularly hated it for how it “kicks you in the ass.” He dominated in high school and college. He spent barely any time grinding through the minors. He pitched well in the majors right out of the gate. But if it never got hard for him at any point, if he didn’t know frustration and failure and disappointment, the current version of himself would never have emerged.

Rodón’s future isn’t worth sweating to me, because given that he was non-tendered and available for 29 other teams at a relative pittance, Rodón could’ve very well had this sort of season for a direct rival, and that would be way worse. To me, it’s similar to James McCann’s 2020 season. There’s always some discomfort in knowing the expiration date, and some natural pressure to force a fit going forward, but considering neither player seemed capable of key production for a postseason team when they were signed at reduced rates following non-tenders, I’d recommend enjoying the immense success under such unlikely circumstances, and leave Rodón’s 2022 fate to your November selves.

* * * * * * * * *


Speaking of McCann, he’s inadvertently showing the benefits of letting timelines run their natural courses. He’s hitting .198/.270/.238 with two extra-base hits and 30 strikeouts over 111 plate appearances in the first two months of a four-year deal, and he’s already ceding playing time to Tomas Nido. He’s also back to a touch below average in framing, so he’s struggling on all fronts.

Frank Menechino complains about the obvious use of grip-enhancing substances in the joint story by Ken Rosenthal and Brittt Ghiroli:

“I’ve seen three or four cases this year where I’m like, ‘Are you s——- me?’” said Menechino, the hitting coach for the second-highest scoring team in the majors. “If MLB is watching this, how are they missing this one?”

I wondered if he was muttering to himself on Saturday about the big rosin spot on Gerrit Cole’s cap, although it’d be hard to separate from the other muttering he might’ve been doing. But as the story notes, teams are hesitate to inspect another team’s pitchers because their guys could be doing the exact same thing.

Meanwhile, in Baseball Prospectus’ continuing investigation into the object that inspired half its name, it turns out that making the baseball lighter has resulted in higher spin rates around the league, and more movement per spin. And hey, the baseball is also a little tackier even before pitchers apply their own formulas to the mix, so that can do a lot to explain what’s attempting to pass for offense this year. On the other side of the equation, it might be a reason to hold off on buying entirely into incredible performance jumps at the individual level, at least if there are further modifications to the baseball to come.

If Madrigal’s game-tying single on Friday wasn’t a vivid enough example of his insane ability to make contact, here’s are some graphs that plot him as outliers among even most contact-oriented players.

(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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Could Rodon’s contract have included a 2022 team option?


Yes, if both parties had agreed to one. But Rodon probably felt that if he performed well enough for the team to exercise the option, then he’d rather see what that performance would get him on the free agent market.

Last edited 1 year ago by dansomeone
As Cirensica

Rodon’s contract does not have an option, and I am afraid his performance is putting him out of reach for the White Sox. Hahn could get creative though. He could extend him, keep Lynn on a 2 or 3 years, and, trade Lucas Giolito in the off season. Hahn should know by now he won’t be able to extend Giolito. Trading him might be a good move, specially if we have in house replacements such as Rodon and Kopech.

Trooper Galactus

The White Sox are looking at about a $125 million payroll next season even if they let Eaton, Lynn, Rodon, and Leury depart. Barring a significant increase in payroll, it’s gonna be hard to bring back either Lynn or Rodon while filling out the remaining holes in the roster unless a couple guys in the minors make some serious noise.

To Err is Herrmann

Calculate the cost of resigning 3 out of those 4, then the cost of adding any other needed players, and you have a payroll amount that Jerry is sure to reject.

I don’t see them re-signing three out of those four for the simple fact that both Eaton and Leury can probably be equaled or improved upon internally. They can probably afford one of Rodon or Lynn assuming Kopech slots into the last spot in the rotation, but that pretty much does it without a big boost in payroll.


In this Year of the Soft-Tissue Injury, Adam Engel is finally going on his rehab assignment. His delay is now clearer.


Really sorry to see McCann struggling like this. I wasn’t sure he was a $40mil player, but he certainly had a louder bat for us than the one he’s showing in New York.

Trooper Galactus

For once the White Sox got the sweet spot of a guy’s career and not his single worst season ever and/or the end of the line.


Don’t umpires have the ability to inspect the ball and / or pitchers if they think something is awry?


I’ll be really curious to see what Rodon can get on the open market. His injury history makes me think 3-4 years max, but then again there are so many players that have turned a well-timed career year into absurdly big bucks.

If he didn’t like playing for the Sox he’d already be playing somewhere else. It would be awesome if we could re-sign him, assuming the bidding doesn’t get ridiculous. But if he’s already resigned to the fact that he won’t get anything near the contract length that Cole got, that might only entice more teams to get into the bidding.

If he keeps this up, maybe offer something Baueresque? Short length but insane AAV.

It’s also possible no other contending team was willing to offer Rodon a guaranteed roster spot, let alone $3 million.