Major league hitters have shown Carlos Rodon they’re not afraid to lay off his wicked slider-fastball combo.
One outing after he issued six walks, the rookie walked five more batters in a six-inning start on Wednesday. He was much better this time as he limited the Cleveland Indians to one run but Rodon has room for improvement. The White Sox lost to the Indians, 4-3, at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday.
“I mean it’s different, guys are a little more patient,” Rodon said. “You just have to throw strikes. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, that’s it right there.”
When Rodon was promoted last month, general manager Rick Hahn said this would be the final step in the left-hander’s development. Even with top-flight talent, the White Sox expect some growing pains for Rodon.
In his second and third starts, Rodon ran into patient clubs in the Oakland A’s and Cleveland Indians, teams that weren’t chasing his slider. Rodon only threw strikes on 13 of 29 sliders on Wednesday, according to Brooksbaseball.net.
“They lay off those good sliders that usually get chased (in college),” Rodon said. “They got in those counts where they can hit and it’s tough.”
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Holding a 1-0 lead, Rodon issued a leadoff walk to Jose Ramirez in the sixth and he stole second base. Rodon then walked Ryan Raburn before Nick Swisher singled to load the bases with one out. Mike Aviles’ sac fly tied the game at 1 but Rodon stranded a pair of runners when he got Brandon Moss to fly out to deep left.
Same as he did out West, Rodon flirted with trouble in the early innings. He stranded a pair of runners in the first inning and man in scoring position in the second. Two double plays got Rodon out of trouble in the third and fourth innings.
“The way he fought back and got out of (the sixth) was a positive,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “As he goes along he's going to get better with command and things like that. The stuff is there, definitely. But cleaning it up, being able to get through that without giving the other team opportunities, you've got to make them beat you. You can't give them stuff like that.”
Rodon has walked 19 batters in 22 1/3 innings. But he likes how he pitched in tight spots on Wednesday, especially with the help of a pair of double plays.
“Not great, not bad, just in between,” said Rodon, who has a 4.03 ERA. “It’s tough with five walks, gets the pitch count up, but two good double plays turned by that tandem right here, one of the best in baseball, I think. Especially when you see those double plays turned right there. That was impressive. But just leadoff walks hurt.”