White Sox

Carlos Rodon paces White Sox past Indians

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Carlos Rodon paces White Sox past Indians

CLEVELAND — He probably won’t win the American League rookie of the year but Carlos Rodon’s future is as bright as any of the frontrunners.

The White Sox pitcher continues to excel late in his rookie campaign as he posted 7 2/3 more dominant innings on Saturday night. Rodon paced his team to its best game of the week as the White Sox survived another ninth-inning scare and topped the Cleveland Indians 4-3 at Progressive Field. David Robertson earned his 30th save but not until after he yielded a two-run homer in the ninth.

Rodon won consecutive starts for the first time in his career and posted his fourth win in his last six decisions to improve to 8-6 overall. While his 2015 resume isn’t as impressive as those of Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor, Minnesota’s Miguel Sano or Houston’s Carlos Correa, what he’s done recently is just as remarkable.

[MORE: Frustrated Robertson wants White Sox to know he's 'worth it']

“Those guys have some impressive numbers going with them, but there’s a longevity that comes with the kind of stuff Carlos has,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s what he really has to hang his hat on, being able to go through a lineup, facing teams back to back. What he has and what he’s capable of in the future, if he does or doesn’t win rookie of the year, doesn’t mean anything about what’s going to happen next year.”

When he arrived in Cleveland on Thursday, Rodon was dressed as a naughty nurse as part of the team’s rookie costume tradition.

On Saturday, he was just nasty.

Twice in the game’s first four innings, Rodon found himself with a runner on third base. The scenario in the fourth also included a runner on second and no outs.

Only one of those three scored.

[RELATED: David Robertson breathes sigh of relief after pickoff ends contest]

Working efficiently, Rodon got out of each jam with limited damage.

With a man on third and one out in the opening frame, Rodon got Michael Brantley to hit a grounder right at Alexei Ramirez, who was playing in, to prevent a run from scoring. He ended the first with a strikeout of Carlos Santana to strand runners on the corners.

Ryan Raburn opened the fourth with a single and advanced to third on Santana’s double. But Rodon only allowed a run and kept the game tied at 1 as he recorded three straight outs, including a weak grounder to first and an infield pop out.

“Just bear down,” Rodon said. “I just have to be aggressive when I go at them. They’re going to be aggressive. I just try to make them swing, make poor contact or strike the guy out.”

From there, Rodon kicked into a higher gear, retiring 14 of 15 batters before allowing a two-out single in the eighth inning. He needed only 102 pitches (64 strikes) as he allowed six hits, walked one and struck out four.

“The whole time he was in control, command-wise he was locating great,” Ventura said. “It’s impressive what he’s done.”

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Carlos Rodon jersey]

Even more so when you consider Rodon hadn’t pitched since Sept. 8 aside from a bullpen session earlier this week. Since Aug. 11, Rodon has a 1.66 ERA in 48 2/3 innings with 16 walks and 45 strikeouts and the White Sox have won 14 of his 22 starts this season.

Both Rodon and pitching coach Don Cooper attribute much of the rookie’s success to his work in the bullpen, where the left-hander has identified and perfected a routine in between starts. Ventura also believes part of the development has come from Rodon’s metamorphosis from the much-ballyhooed rookie to just another one of the guys. Rodon entered the season as the No. 14-rated prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.

With what he has done in a short amount of time, White Sox catcher Rob Brantly thinks Rodon should garner consideration for rookie of the year no matter how good the other candidates have been.

“There’s no question, especially for his first year and the amount of time he’s had in professional baseball, he should get some consideration for the job he’s done,” Brantly said. “He was drafted not too long ago and he’s here holding his own with some of the best names in baseball.”

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

Mark Buehrle. Jon Garland. Freddy García. José Contreras.

The 2005 White Sox had four consecutive complete games to finish off the 2005 ALCS — Contreras took his turn in Game 5 against the Angels 13 years ago Tuesday. How special was that run of starting pitching to finish that series? Consider the following six statements:

— No team has had more than two complete games in a single postseason, let alone a postseason series, since.

— There has been a grand total of four complete games in 188 postseason games (through Monday) since the beginning of 2016.

— Those 2005 White Sox remain the only team with four complete games in a single LCS (which went to a best-of-seven format in 1985).

— They are the only team since the 1968 Tigers (in the World Series) with at least four complete games in any postseason series.

— They are the only team since the 1956 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete games in a series. (The Yankees had five in a row: Games 3 through 7.)

— They are the only team since the 1928 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete-game wins in a series (Games 1 through 4).

Take a moment to look back and appreciate what Don Cooper’s troops were able to accomplish in that series. The way the game is played nowadays, we will never see it again.

If 2018 was all about 'learning experiences' for young White Sox, what did Lucas Giolito learn?

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USA TODAY

If 2018 was all about 'learning experiences' for young White Sox, what did Lucas Giolito learn?

We heard a lot about "learning experiences" during the White Sox 100-loss 2018 season.

It was Rick Renteria's way of describing the to-be-anticipated growing pains for highly touted players spending their first full seasons in the major leagues. Fan expectations were high for the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Yoan Moncada, and by very few measures did those players — some of the first of the organization's bevy of prospects to reach the South Side — live up to those expectations.

But that doesn't mean that those players' seasons were devoid of value. Renteria, the White Sox and the players all expect these "learning experiences" to have long-term benefits. In other words, it's the struggles now that will help these players succeed and create the planned perennial contender on the South Side.

So if those "learning experiences" were so valuable, what did these guys learn?

Giolito finished his first full season in the bigs with a 6.13 ERA, leading baseball in earned runs allowed and leading the American League in walks. What did he take from what looked from the outside like a disappointing season?

"I think I learned the most from my worst starts this year, the ones where I didn’t make it out of the first, didn’t make it out of the second," Giolito said before the end of the White Sox season last month. "Just going out there not having the right mindset from the get go and allowing the game to speed up on me really quickly, there’s maybe two, three, four games where that happened. And obviously I came out of those games upset and frustrated, but now looking back on them from this perspective at the end of the season, I really learned the most from those.

"Entering every single start, I get roughly 32 of them a year, make sure that I’m prepared, I’m ready to pitch, my routine is set and I’m following it to a ‘T.’ And over the second half of the season, I started to put up better numbers, put up more competitive starts just through that process of earlier in the year grinding and grinding and not doing well. I learned a lot about myself in that process as a pitcher and as a competitor."

Certain numbers don't exactly show a drastic improvement from one half of the season to the other: Giolito's ERA prior to the All-Star break (6.18) and after it (6.04) were pretty much the same. He had a much improved August (3.86 ERA in six starts) and a rough September (9.27 ERA in five starts).

But again, the 2018 season wasn't about what the numbers look like now. It was about what those numbers will look like a year or two or three from now, when the White Sox make their transition from rebuilding to contending.

"You go out there and you don’t get the job done, you’re knocked out of the game early, looking back on it, it’s like, ‘Now I know what doesn’t work.’ And I’m able to make those adjustments and the changes to the routine and the changes to mindset and things to be able to go out there," Giolito said. "I’m not going to have my best stuff every day. Some days I might not feel right and might be battling myself a little bit. But it’s being able to make that quick adjustment, not letting the game speed up. That’s the biggest thing.

"At this level, you go out there and you’re not feeling right in the first inning, it might be three runs, four runs on the board before you even know it. And I think getting that experience, getting to pitch every fifth day for an entire season and having a ton of downs and starting to figure it out more toward the end, it’s gaining that experience and learning what works and learning what doesn’t."

Throughout the season, Renteria complimented Giolito for the pitcher's ability to move on from rough beginnings to starts and turn in a five- or six-outing despite the early trouble. Giolito did a good deal of that throughout the season, with longevity during starts rarely being an issue, even if the run totals were high. Only six of his 32 starts in 2018 were shorter than five innings, and the percentage of his starts that lasted six and seven innings increased from the first half of the season to the second.

And then there are the walks, and there was a significant decrease in the amount of guys Giolito was putting on base between the first and second halves of the season. He walked 60 batters in 103.1 innings in the first half for a BB/9 of 5.2, compared to 30 batters in 70 innings in the second half for a BB/9 of 3.9.

So there were positives for Giolito to take from his 2018 campaign.

"The second half of the season, bouncing back from what I was doing. Cutting down on the walks, starting to pitch better, pitch more consistently. Even games when I wasn’t sharp, I was getting hit around, not doing so well, I did a better job of at least giving the team a chance, getting a little bit deeper into the game," he said. "So I’d say those are some of the highlights, learning from the mistakes and learning from the failures and within the season being able to make the right adjustments to be more successful."

On Opening Day, Giolito talked about how different a pitcher he was more than a year after joining the White Sox organization. One full season in the big leagues, and Giolito is again a different pitcher. It's that continuing evolution that the White Sox hope will make him a mainstay in their rotation of the future.

"More experience, more mature. I’m no longer really fazed by the big situation. If I get into trouble in the first inning, I’m not worrying about it or thinking about it or how I screwed up the last at-bat, last pitch, I walked a guy, gave up a double, whatever it might be. Now, what’s in the past is in the past, even when I’m out there," he said. "If I mess up a couple pitches, I know the adjustment to make and I’m going to do my best to make that adjustment without it taking a couple innings or even never making the adjustment the entire start, which is what was happening through April, May, June.

"Just getting that experience and learning to make those adjustments on the fly. I’d say that’s what I’m really taking away from this year."