Carlos Rodon’s second start of the 2018 season lasted just as long as his first.
After throwing 97 pitches in five innings against the Boston Red Sox last weekend, Rodon threw 100 pitches in five innings against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday. Things didn’t go so hot this time around, though he only gave up two hits. Problem is he put five guys on base in other ways, walking three batters and hitting two others. Oh, and one of those hits was a home run.
He didn’t get shelled, but he acted a little like it after the game, not at all happy with his performance.
“Need to be more consistent,” Rodon said. “Falling behind, putting myself in bad situations. Got to go deeper in the game for the team. Not my best.”
Rodon shouldn’t be expected to arrive from months of recovery from shoulder surgery as a flame-throwing ace. This was just his second big league start since last fall. But he didn’t live up to his own expectations, and struggling with command and issuing walks, hitting batters, have been big problems for other White Sox starting pitchers this season. Lucas Giolito is still battling command issues on a start-by-start basis.
As those issues have subsided rotation-wide and starters have lasted longer in their outings, the White Sox have won more games. There’s no secret there: When the pitchers pitch well, the team fares better.
While he only gave up two runs Thursday, Rodon left to watch the bullpen give up three more.
“He came into the dugout after we told him he was done for the day. He was like, ‘I’ve got to be better,’” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s not as efficient, obviously, as we need him to be.
“But for all intents and purposes, it’s probably his sixth game or seventh game. Not to make any excuses for him, but it’s kind of like a little bit of spring training. He’s trying to get himself into some rhythm.
“Hopefully the next one will be better, he’ll be able to go deeper, a little more efficient. He’s got good stuff, so that’s good. I think he got up to 95 or 96 (mph) today on some fastballs. Continues to work and we’ll see if he can clean it up.”
The “it’s still kind of spring training for him” explanation didn’t fly with Rodon.
“I don’t want to make that excuse,” he said. “When you show up at this level, it’s time to compete.”
Whatever your opinion on that matter, what is inarguable is that Rodon is just two starts into his 2018 season. The expectations are high, as are the stakes, with Rodon one of many young arms competing for spots in the White Sox rotation of the future.
But he’s got plenty of time this season and beyond to make his case.