This year, a great 60 games merely means 102 remain

Jun 8, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) warms up before the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off his worst start of the season in which he gave up three homers to Cleveland, Carlos Rodón’s five innings against Toronto on Tuesday wasn’t the most comfortable viewing experience. He toggled to “Hard Karl” mode after some early struggles and broke the switch, which was just as well since a talented and entirely right-handed Toronto lineup would have likely damaged anything less.

Rodón didn’t get a win to show for the effort, but he lowered his ERA back below 2 (1.96), and he’s about one start away from posting the third-highest strikeout total of his career despite a workload that would be a distant fourth:

  • 2018: 90 strikeouts over 120.2 innings
  • 2021: 88 strikeouts over 59.2 innings

I’m not sure about the durability of a Rodón who throws 106 pitches over five innings while touching 100 mph, except that it’s superior to a Rodón who throws 106 pitches over five innings while sitting at 91. Also, Tony La Russa has given him extra rest wherever possible, and thanks to the schedule and a rotation full of credible starters, the definition of “possible” is broader than usual. Rodón has only made two starts this year on standard rest (four days), which is the same number of starts he has after five and eight days off. Seven days’ rest took the lead for the season, as Tuesday’s outing against Toronto was his third such start.

Rodón is on track to throw his next two starts on standard rest, which would be only his second consecutive pair of such starts this season. That three-dong night against Cleveland marked the back half of the first pair, which might inform the thinking on La Russa’s side. Should it go as poorly, there’s a two-off-day week afterward to refuel.

* * * * * * * * *

And Rodón will need to replenish often, because there’s still a whole lot of season left. More than 100 games, in fact! Through 60 games, the projected standings are now on the White Sox’s side, as they hold a four-game lead over a Cleveland team with its own flaws, and 7½ games over a third-place KC team that most saw as trying a year too early, even if that trying is a welcome sight after so much tanking around the game.

  • FanGraphs: 91-71, good for the league’s second-best record and an AL Central title by eight games.
  • PECOTA: 88-74, good for the AL Central title by a rounding error over Cleveland.

The second one is fascinating, because the White Sox hold an edge in the record by two-tenths of a win despite having a lower likelihood of winning the division (43.7 percent, versus 46.7 for Cleveland). That, combined with the superior run differential, probably speaks to the White Sox having a much higher ceiling in their win total than Cleveland with talent on hand, especially if Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert are able to offer anything whenever they return. PECOTA was the low system on the Sox before the season, so it’s fun to treat the algorithm as though it’s capable of begrudging acceptance.

If this season were only 60 games long, they’d be home (in the postseason) by now. They’d hold the second seed behind Tampa Bay and host the Yankees in the first round.

And if Carlos Rodón could take his first 60 games of this season and retroactively apply it to last year’s 60-game schedule, it’s hard to imagine another outcome besides the American League’s best record. Replace the innings thrown by Rodón, Reynaldo López and Gio González in 2020 (65⅔) with Rodón’s 2021 workload (59⅔), and the White Sox’s team ERA drops from 3.81 to 3.37. Their 213 runs allowed would fit right between Cleveland (209) and Minnesota (215) for the fewest in the American League. The team’s run differential stands a chance at approaching +100. That team has a pythagorean record of 40-20. That team probably doesn’t lose six in a row over the final week, including four in Cleveland. That team has a defined third starter for a three-game series.

Alas, Rodón probably doesn’t reach this current form if it weren’t for the embarrassing sequence of failures that led to his non-tendering, so we’re left to see how Rodón can ration his supply of high-90s heat over the remaining 102 games.

But as the White Sox embark on the second of the 2.7 60-game schedules that fit inside a standard season, it’s worth noting how weird it feels to stop a season here. Last year’s schedule didn’t feel that strange to me in real time because COVID-19 compromised everything it didn’t outright eliminate, and fans were lucky for whatever baseball could be played. Also, the season happened to be just long enough for the Sox to fall into the third place as all the projections foretold. But as the country (fingers crossed) puts the worst of the pandemic behind it, it’s worth pausing to welcome the old challenges of powering through the most arduous schedule in sports, even if the White Sox would benefit from another drastically shortened season right about now.

(Photo by Matt Marton / USA TODAY Sports)

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texag10

Its weird comparing last year to this year through 30 games. The pitching is appreciably better which was expected just based on the starting rotation being solidified a bit more this season but the hitting isn’t too far behind last year’s even with all of the injures we’ve endured.

karkovice squad

That was an incredibly taxing start–equivalent to 127 pitches over 9 IP before other stresses–so it’ll definitely be important to keep an eye on how he responds to that workload and normal rest.

Last edited 2 years ago by karkovice squad
Un Perro

Sorry if this has been previously discussed, but from where does the nickname “Hard Karl” come? Google advises that it came up last year, but I can’t find a definitive history of this alternate personality.

Soxfan2

I believe it’s his username for when he streams video games on Twitch

dansomeone

I’m just glad it’s not “Hot Carl.”

Joliet Orange Sox

I’ll put this here since it’s the current thread and I missed it if it was discussed elsewhere. The Cubs have unveiled their city connect uniforms. The cap is based on the Chicago flag. The uniform is solid dark blue with “Wrigleyville” emblazoned across the chest. Somehow the mlb.com article about these uniforms is titled Cubs embrace all of Chicago with new unis.

Cubs city connect uniforms

Last edited 2 years ago by Joliet Orange Sox
soxygen

You do have to wonder how much changes to the scoring environment have helped and whether we’ve been helped more than other teams.

For the AL, RA/G dropped by 0.22 and FIP is down 0.37. For the Sox, RA/G is down by 0.65 and FIP is down 0.81.

Teams with question marks at the back of the rotation often fall apart when the ball starts flying out of the yard. But so far, we’ve held together pretty well. Most of that is clearly execution, but and extra quarter or half run per game and our weaknesses would be getting a lot more exposure.