For the first time in three weeks, Carlos Rodon knows exactly what he’ll do at first pitch when he arrives at the ballpark on Saturday afternoon.
Whereas the pitching prospect has begun to adapt to the every day uncertainty in the bullpen, not knowing if he’d be needed each game, the White Sox announced Rodon would make his first major league start against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday. The announcement came shortly after news that Jeff Samardzija has dropped his appeal and began to serve his five-game suspension before Wednesday’s contest.
“I obviously have never started at this level, but at other levels, every five days you know what your day is and you know your routine,” Rodon said. “I’m back on it. It’s the same thing, the same routine I’ve done in Triple-A and college and high school, its just a little better hitters.”
Chris Sale is expected to follow Samardzija’s lead and drop his appeal on Thursday, which meant the White Sox needed a sixth starter this turn in the rotation. Rodon’s already stretched out, having thrown at least 60 pitches twice since he arrived on April 20 after making 87 in back-to-back minor league starts.
Rodon threw 63 pitches in Saturday’s loss after he relieved Hector Noesi.
“He still kept his pitch count up there,” manager Robin Ventura said. “As far as him going out there and what to expect out of him from the start, there’s really not a limit to him going out there. He’s going to be out there and making his start and we expect good things.”
Rodon has shown he’s capable of those expectations this spring. He dominated the Kansas City Royals for four innings in mid-March and pitched well against the Los Angeles Dodgers, too. He struck out 21 batters in 17 2/3 innings and posted a 3.06 ERA.
As for what Rodon can expect after his first start, the White Sox aren’t yet saying. There’s an expectation from the fan base that once Rodon, the No. 3 overall pick last June, moves into the rotation, he wouldn’t be removed. But, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has said Rodon’s innings this season are a “scarce resource,” that they intend to monitor his workload.
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Rodon already has thrown 16 1/3 innings between the majors and minors. Saturday’s game is only the 27th for the White Sox, which means they have 27 turns of the rotation left this season. Were Rodon to stick and average six innings per start, he’d wind up with more than 180 innings pitched, which is likely higher than the White Sox hope to use him in the regular season.
Ventura said the White Sox would “figure it out” how to use the left-hander from here, but also added Rodon’s start is “a one-time thing” -- likely for now.
Rodon doesn’t want to look too far ahead as to how the White Sox may employ him. He’s just happy to know what he’ll do at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday.
“Honestly I have no idea,” Rodon said. “It’s just looking forward to Saturday and looking forward to that first hitter.”