White Sox

Carlos Rodon the latest White Sox pitcher to head for Tommy John surgery

Carlos Rodon the latest White Sox pitcher to head for Tommy John surgery

Carlos Rodon is the latest young White Sox pitcher heading for Tommy John surgery.

Rodon, who went on the injured list with a significant arm injury earlier this month, will have the procedure, general manager Rick Hahn announced ahead of Monday night's game, putting the 26-year-old left-hander on the shelf for about a year.

Rodon, who the White Sox selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft, joins fellow starting pitchers of the future Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning, who are both currently recovering from recent Tommy John surgeries. Kopech, who arrived in the major leagues with much fanfare last August, won't be pitching in big league games again until the 2020 season. Dunning, who had the procedure done more recently than Kopech, did not pitch above the Double-A level last season. Rodon likely won't return until the second half of the 2020 season.

It's another brutal blow for a rebuilding White Sox team that can't seem to stop taking them. Significant injuries to promising young players with big roles in this rebuilding effort keep coming, Rodon joining Kopech, Dunning, Zack Burdi and outfielder Micker Adolfo in the Tommy John category while different injuries have befallen the likes of Luis Robert, Jake Burger and Alec Hansen in the last year-plus.

Rodon, specifically, has suffered a few of these now. Injuries, including shoulder surgery at the end of the 2017 season, delayed the start of each of his last two campaigns until June. Finally in good health coming into the 2019 season, he looked ready to show what he could do with a full, healthy year. That lasted all of seven starts.

Rodon has flashed ace-like potential at times, though consistency has been elusive. He had a brilliant two-month stretch last year, during which he posted a 1.84 ERA. But he closed that campaign on a sour note, with a 9.22 ERA over his final six starts. Though brief, his 2019 season featured that same kind of mixed bag: He posted a 5.19 ERA in his seven outings.

Who knows what Rodon's absence will mean for the White Sox chances at contending in 2020. But missed developmental time for all these players has to have some effect, whether that's being experienced now or will be in seasons to come.

Rodon, though, is different from the Kopechs and Dunnings of the White Sox rebuild in that his contract is set to expire long before theirs, after the 2021 season. That means that if Rodon's recovery keeps him out a year, the White Sox will have just a season and a half of team control remaining by the time he returns. That's not to say he won't be of value should the White Sox be in a position to contend either in 2020 or 2021, but certainly they hoped for a bit more when they made him the No. 3 pick in the draft five years ago.

 

White Sox Talk Podcast: What has James McCann meant to the White Sox? Everything

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What has James McCann meant to the White Sox? Everything

Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber talk about James McCann's breakout season with the White Sox (1:15).

Then Chuck speaks with McCann about all the preparation he does for every game (9:20), why he'll never use a cheat sheet scouting report behind the plate like many catchers do (11:30) and what McCann has been badgering Lucas Giolito about since spring training (14:30).

Plus, why Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer have been so successful out of the bullpen (16:30), why McCann acts as a karaoke host on the team bus (17:40) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Buckle up, White Sox, here come the best two teams in baseball

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USA TODAY

Buckle up, White Sox, here come the best two teams in baseball

Things are about to get tougher for the White Sox. Much tougher.

The upcoming road trip features seven straight games against first-place teams, the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins. Those two teams are, by their winning percentages as of this writing, the two best teams in baseball.

The much-bemoaned makeup of this season’s American League means seeing top-shelf competition is a rarity for any team playing outside the AL East. The Astros are a mile ahead of the rest of the AL West. The Twins have appeared, so far, as the only team capable of winning an aggressively weak AL Central. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays — three teams the White Sox have already seen one time apiece — will battle it out for the AL East crown all season long, but let’s be honest, they all seem safe bets to make the postseason.

The fact that the five teams likely to make the playoffs have already put themselves ahead of the competition and it’s not even Memorial Day is its own discussion topic as the rebuilding trend sweeps through the Junior Circuit. But for the 2019 edition of the Chicago White Sox, specifically, it just means that this week is not likely to be a good one.

In the 10 games they played against the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox, the White Sox went 3-7. They were pasted by the Rays and Red Sox, who combined to outscore them 58-18 in seven games on the South Side, and they took two of three from the Yankees in The Bronx.

Of course, any expectations can be dashed in a small portion of a 162-game season. Cast your mind back to 2017, when the White Sox swept a three-game series from the soon-to-be world-champion Astros. The South Siders finished with 95 losses that season, but for three games in August, they had the champs’ number.

Will this week go similarly? Maybe. But it doesn’t seem likely.

The Astros are on fire, or at least they were before the Red Sox snapped their 10-game winning streak Sunday. That doesn’t change the fact that the Astros boast a plus-92 run differential that counts as the best in the game. Or their 3.43 team ERA (second in the AL). Or their .279 team batting average and jaw-dropping .353 team on-base percentage, both marks the best in baseball.

The Twins, the division rivals the White Sox will see for the first time in 2019 beginning Friday, aren’t far behind. That offense has been sensational, too, through the season’s first two months, owning baseball’s second best run differential (plus-77) and its second best team batting average (.270). No team in either league has hit more homers than the Twins, who have launched 87 of them in 45 games.

The White Sox, meanwhile, have a fragile, injury-affected starting rotation — after Sunday’s game, manager Rick Renteria did not share who’s starting Monday’s game — and a pitching staff with a 5.09 ERA that’s given up 68 homers this season. Sunday, Reynaldo Lopez made it through six innings of one-run ball, only for the White Sox bullpen to cough up a pair of two-run homers to the Toronto Blue Jays (one of baseball’s worst offenses) in the game’s final two innings. It was the sixth time this season the White Sox bullpen has allowed multiple home runs in a single game.

“Gulp” might be an appropriate reaction to hearing the White Sox have to go up against the Houston and Minnesota offenses seven times in the next seven days.

This isn’t to say the White Sox are merely a punching bag for these two giants of the American League right now. Certainly most of the teams the Astros and Twins have faced have suffered less than desirable fates. But the gaps between the rebuilding White Sox and this pair of contenders are not small.

The White Sox are trying to accomplish the same thing the Astros did, spending several frustrating years being patient during a rebuilding process only to come out the other side a perennial contender and World Series champion. These same Astros who are now bullying the rest of the AL lost a total of 416 games in the four seasons prior to their first playoff season in a decade in 2015. By the end of the 2017 campaign, they were world champions. That’s the template the White Sox are trying to follow.

But the White Sox aren’t to the mountaintop yet, and that might end up being painfully clear by the end of the upcoming road trip. It doesn’t mean their climb won’t get them to that same point, but don’t try to compare the 2019 White Sox to the 2019 Astros this week. That’s not the comparison that counts.

The Twins are a little different, having revamped their lineup over the offseason with free-agent acquisitions who have paid huge dividends. C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Marwin Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz (currently on the IL) have combined for 31 homers in 45 games. But homegrown guys like Jorge Polanco, Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are all playing well, too. That quintet has accounted for 43 of the Twins’ 87 homers this season. That’s a strong core of homegrown young hitters, the kind of thing the White Sox hope to have real soon, the kind of thing that’s taking shape with Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson off to good starts and Eloy Jimenez at the major league level (and likely to come off the injured list Monday).

The White Sox have obviously had their positives this season, and they’re clearly in a better place now than they were at this point last year (a 21-24 record after Sunday’s game compared to 14-31 through the first 45 games of 2018). But their rebuilding process hasn’t yet reached the point where they’re going to be trading blows with the two best teams in baseball.

There could be some surprises on this road trip. But they don’t figure to be easy to come by. Buckle up, here come the two best teams in baseball.

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