Though Erik Johnson will get more starts and Frankie Montas should make one too, the White Sox don’t have any current plans to shut down Carlos Rodon.
The White Sox are likely to employ a “semi six-man rotation” over their final 27 games in order to find space for some of their other intriguing arms, manager Robin Ventura said Monday.
While they could space out their rotation and reduce the workloads of others, as of now they don’t plan to limit Rodon, who has pitched 128 2/3 combined innings this season. Instead they’re likely to use a mix-and-match method for the stretch run unless Rodon -- who is 2-2 with a 1.85 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 34 innings in his past five starts -- dramatically slows down.
“I think he can go to the end of the year,” Ventura said. “I don’t think he’s gotten to that point where he’s hit a wall or we’re in a numbers crunch or anything like that. But if we get to a point where we need to use him, we can use him and you get to a point where you want to take care of him, you take care of him.”
The International League pitcher of the year, Johnson is at a point where the White Sox would like to further explore whether or not he belongs in the 2016 rotation. The White Sox have been pleased with Johnson’s improved command as he has averaged 2.66 walks per nine over 138 2/3 innings this season, down from 4.80 in 2014 (69 in 129 1/3).
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Johnson continued that trend on Sunday when he didn’t walk a batter in six innings against the Kansas City Royals. He kept the ball down, worked both sides of the plate with his fastball and kept an aggressive Royals offense mostly off balance with his curveball.
One American League scout said: “Much better than I saw last year. More power and finish to stuff, a did a good job of throwing strikes with all his pitches.”
The improved velocity and movement and a steady routine has had Johnson -- the No. 2 prospect in the organization before 2014 -- confident all season he’s ready for another opportunity.
“I really know, I think, what I need to do to be that consistent guy,” Johnson said. “For me, I just kind of shaped a routine around what it takes me to be consistently the same guy every time I go out there.”
Ventura expects to see Johnson more than once the rest of the way.
“The way he threw yesterday, he gets another shot at going out there,” Ventura said. “It will probably be a semi-six man rotation in a way. You can get everybody an extra day. You can kind of play games with it and slot guys a little bit differently if you need to.
“But he’ll definitely be pitching a couple of more.”