From both a narrow and wide view, Carlos Rodon’s maturity — and talent — showed itself against Texas.
The 22-year-old Rodon limited the Rangers to two runs on four hits over six innings Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field, sprinkling three walks and five strikeouts as the White Sox ended an eight-game losing streak with a 3-2 win. It was a welcome sign after the left-hander allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings Monday night at PNC Park.
But not only did Rodon rebound from that rough outing in Pittsburgh, he overcame a brief loss of command on Saturday. He allowed two runs in the fifth inning, bringing Texas within one, but shut down the middle of the Rangers’ order in the sixth to finish his start.
“I don’t know if that inning today where he gave up a couple and lost command, I don’t know if earlier in the year he’s able to come back and give another good inning after that,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “You see it in a lot of his mannerisms, execution, the pitch after not executing. Instead of dwelling on it, he’s able to figure out what went wrong and execute the next pitch.”
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Rodon’s big fastball and sharp slider are only part of the reason why the White Sox see a high ceiling for the former No. 3 overall pick. His maturity level and poise are roundly praised by coaches and teammates, and earned more plaudits after his six strong innings against Texas.
“He continues to want to go back out there and I think that's the stuff we're learning about him,” manager Robin Ventura said. “His maturity and composure and competitiveness, it's great to see.”
That start Monday — which went under the radar in Chicago as the city celebrated the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup clincher — stands as Rodon’s worst outing as a professional. He ran into adversity before, like when he allowed five runs and six walks in four ineffective innings against Oakland May 15, but his start against the Pirates was the first time he was truly shelled since leaving N.C. State a year ago.
Rodon, though, quickly moved on from that start and began to focus on getting ready for Texas.
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“You just have to forget about it, put it behind you,” Rodon said. “As soon as that game is over, it was tough to put it behind me but forget about it, have my side (session), try to get better and then came out and competed today.”
Rodon has a 3.75 ERA over his first 50 1/3 pro innings. In his last five starts he has a 27-to-nine strikeout-to-walk ratio and hasn’t allowed a home run.
But he hasn’t pitched more than 6 1/3 innings in any of his eight starts. On Saturday, Rodon only threw eight changeup in his 102 pitches, and only three of those went for strikes, according to BrooksBaseball.net. That’s a pitch that still needs refinement, so he’s mostly thrown fastballs and sliders — though those pitches aren’t close to being as good as they could be as he continues to grow.
“The funny and scary thing is he can get a lot better,” Flowers said. “His stuff is that good where he’s able to get by with missing some spots here and there. If he can hone in the command, which has gotten a whole lot better, then we might have two (Chris) Sales.”