Carlos Rodon was the third pick in the 2014 draft, long considered to be a building block for the White Sox’s rotation. Though there have been flashes over the years, he has never lived up to the draft position.
From 2015-20, Rodon was an underwhelming 29-33 with a 4.14 ERA and 1.379 WHIP over 97 appearances (92 starts).
Part of Rodon’s struggles can be blamed on injuries, from suffering freak accidents like spraining his wrist while falling in the dugout in 2016 to the dreaded Tommy John surgery in 2019. He has never made more than 28 starts in a season, and appeared in just 43 games from 2017-20.
The White Sox signed Rodon to a one-year, $3 million deal this offseason. The money was guaranteed, but a spot in the rotation was not.
Rodon earned a spot in the rotation with an impressive spring, allowing two earned runs over 13 ²/₃ innings (1.32 ERA), striking out 16 and walking only one (not bad for a guy who walked 3.9 per nine from 2015-20). He also had a 0.73 WHIP and a .184 opponent average.
That has carried over to the start of the season. Rodon is 2-0 with a perfect 0.00 ERA, a league-best 0.36 WHIP and 16-3 strikeout-to-walk rate. Opponents are hitting .045 against him with a .228 OPS.
In just two starts, Rodon has proved to be a valuable investment (for the Chisox and fantasy owners), especially after the lefty, on Wednesday, threw the second no-hitter of the season (Roto Rage favorite Joe Musgrove had the first). Rodon was in line for a perfect game until he plunked Roberto Perez on an 0-2 pitch with one out in the ninth, so he settled for becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter within two years of Tommy John surgery.
So, what’s different?
Rodon overhauled his delivery with White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz.
“He is now keeping on his back leg better and keeping a vertical shin on the mound in his direction to home plate,” Katz told Chicago’s 670 The Score. “He now has more ability to be in the strike zone consistently. Carlos can now shape his secondary stuff in and out of the strike zone, too.”
All of that is showing, as Rodon is walking a career low 1.9 per nine, striking out a career-high 32 percent of the batters he has faced (and throwing 63.1 percent of his pitches for strikes), and his secondary pitches are being used more effectively.
The 28-year-old is using his fastball, which hit 99 mph on Wednesday (in the ninth inning, no less), 54.5 percent of the time, but his slider is doing the most damage (and, no, that is not because he has hit three batters with the pitch). Of the 209 pitches he has thrown, 54 have been sliders. It is a pitch he has used to close 10 of his 16 strikeouts, and opponents have failed to register a hit against it.
Rodon has a career-high 16.3 swinging strike rate, which ranks ninth in the majors. He has a 22.2 percent swinging strike rate with his slider (15.7 percent with his fastball and 12.5 percent with his curveball).
The only negatives for Rodon (besides his league-leading three hit batsman): an unsustainable .071 BBBIP, which is bound to regress, and a 2.14 FIP, which indicates he has gotten lucky in his first two outings. But even if he regresses and his ERA rises to his FIP or 3.87 xFIP level, that is easily still worthy of a spot in your fantasy rotation.
Rodon was the most added pitcher in ESPN leagues this week, but he remains available in about 25 percent of leagues. If he is available, grab him. If you already have him on your roster, don’t let go.
Jed Lowrie 2B, Athletics
The former Met (that’s funny) entered Friday on a six-game hit streak, going 11-for-23 (.478) with two homers and a 1.321 OPS in that span. He also had 11 RBIs, driving in at least one run in each of those games.
Michael Pineda SP, Twins
Though he has picked up just one win in three starts, he owns a 1.00 ERA with a 17-3 strikeout-to-walk rate, 0.72 WHIP and .159 opponent average.
Eduardo Escobar 3B, Diamondbacks
Had at least one hit in six of his past seven before Friday, going 11-for-29 (.379) with five homers, nine RBIs, 10 runs and a 1.403 OPS in that span.
Ronald Acuna Jr. OF, Braves
Entered the weekend with a seven-game hit streak, going 16-for-29 (.552) with five homers, 10 RBIs, and a 1.864 OPS in that stretch.
Patrick Corbin SP, Nationals
Lost his first two starts after allowing 15 earned runs over 6 ¹/₃ innings (21.32 ERA), four homers, a .387 opponent average and seven walks.
C.J. Cron 1B, Rockies
The notoriously slow starter (career .234 hitter in the opening month) was 7-for-37 (.189) with no homers, two RBIs, 12 strikeouts and a .546 OPS in his first 11 games.
Ryan Yarbrough SP, Rays
After pitching 5 ²/₃ shutout innings in his first start, he went 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA and .365 opponent average in his next two starts.
Jorge Soler OF, Royals
Struck out 18 times in 34 plate appearances from April 4-15, while hitting .129 (4-for-31) with no homers, two RBIs and a .343 OPS.
- Though Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase is striking out 11.8 per nine and has three saves in three opportunities (much to the chagrin on James Karinchak overdrafters), he has allowed unearned runs in each of his past two appearances. Just something to monitor with the flamethrowing 23-year-old.
- Oakland’s Ramon Laureano, long a Roto Rage favorite for his power and speed, had two stolen bases in 54 games in 2020, and 13 in 123 games in 2019. In his first 10 games this season, he already has stolen a league-leading eight.
- The Brewers’ Corbin Burnes has not allowed a run over his past 12 innings and only one over his first 18 ¹/₃ (0.49 ERA). Opponents are hitting .067 against him, and he has struck out 30 batters. Even more impressive: He has not walked a single batter. He is the first pitcher to have 30 strikeouts and no walks through three games since 1906, the same year the muffuletta sandwich and the prototypical bubble gum, Blibber-Blubber, were invented. Ah, what a year!
Team Name Of The Week
Beam Me Up, Piscotty