The first man to throw a pitch for the 2019 Chicago White Sox will be Carlos Rodon.
A little more than a week out from the start of the regular season, manager Rick Renteria announced Monday that Rodon will get the ball for the South Siders when they take on the Kansas City Royals on March 28 in the Show Me State.
Not only will this be the first Opening Day start for the 26-year-old lefty, but it will be the first start he's made in April since 2016. Injuries and the recovery from them have delayed Rodon's season debut until June each of the last two years. The 2019 campaign is a pivotal one for Rodon, who finally enters a season in good health with the chance to show the White Sox he can pitch consistently over the course of an entire season.
And consistency was the issue in 2018. After Rodon returned from shoulder surgery in June, he had stretches where he looked like an ace in the making and stretches where he looked far from someone who could top the White Sox rotation of the future. He had a brilliant two-month stretch in July and August, posting a 1.84 ERA over nine starts. But he finished the season poorly, with a 9.22 ERA in six September starts.
"For a lack of a better term, I s**t my pants," Rodon told Our Chuck Garfien last month. "It seems like it always happens. Right in the middle of August and July, I get on a good run and then I s**t my pants."
Rodon has had mixed results this spring. In three outings, he's got a 5.11 ERA with eight strikeouts, four walks and three home runs allowed in 12.1 innings. He made one start against the Royals during the 2018 season, allowing only two runs in six innings despite surrendering five hits and five walks.
As for how the White Sox rotation will stack up after Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Ivan Nova are locks to make the rotation. The fifth spot is up for grabs but seems likely to go to Ervin Santana, who was signed to a minor league deal early in spring training. General manager Rick Hahn raised the possibility last week that if Santana wins the job but isn't quite ready for the start of the regular season, the White Sox schedule could allow them to only use four starting pitchers for a little while. We'll see if that's how it plays out.
After opening the season with a three-game series over four days in Kansas City, the White Sox travel to Cleveland for two games in three days against the division-rival Indians. The home opener comes April 4 against the visiting Seattle Mariners, the start of a three-game series over the course of four days on the South Side.
Rodon will be the fifth different pitcher to make the Opening Day start for the White Sox in the last five years. James Shields took the ball last year, succeeding Jose Quintana (2017), Chris Sale (2016) and Jeff Samardzija (2015).Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.