Chicago White Sox

White Sox's Carlos Rodon poised for breakout season

White Sox starter Carlos Rodon pitches against the Angels on July 24 in Anaheim, Calif.
White Sox starter Carlos Rodon pitches against the Angels on July 24 in Anaheim, Calif.

Pitchers taken with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft are expected to eventually emerge as No. 1 starters.

It’s looking as if Carlos Rodon’s time finally has arrived.

The White Sox added the left-hander in the first round of the 2014 draft with the third pick. Armed with a big fastball and wipeout slider, Rodon was on the Sox’s 25-man roster the next year.

Beginning his career out of the bullpen, the former North Carolina State All-American quickly moved into the Sox’s rotation and looked to be on the fast track to stardom. A shoulder injury wound up slowing Rodon to a complete stop.

Rodon pitched with discomfort in 2017 but wound up having arthroscopic shoulder surgery in September.

He returned to the Sox’s starting five in June of last season and was 6-8 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 starts.

On the bright side, Rodon reeled off nine straight quality starts from
July 5 to Aug. 27, the longest streak by a Sox pitcher since at least 1908.

On the dark side, Rodon ran out of gas in September and was 0-5 with a 9.22 ERA in his final six starts.

“I’m never going to blame it on being tired or any of that stuff,” Rodon said earlier in spring training. “I felt pretty strong. I just got my [butt] whupped. That’s pretty much it.”

Never one to make excuses, Rodon did admit it was nice to report to spring training this year 100 percent healthy.

Manager Rick Renteria quickly noticed the difference.

“He’s looking good,” Renteria said. “He’s staying nice and loose. We’re really happy. He’s coming into the season healthy. We can see the difference in his arm action and the fluidity of it. We hope to continue to see that.”

Although an announcement is not expected until next week, Rodon is expected to get the ball March 28 and make his first opening day start at Kansas City.

“It’s something you have to earn,” Rodon said. “To my standards, I haven’t earned that yet. It’s something I’ll have to prove in spring training.”

In his first two Cactus League outings, he gave up three runs in seven innings, allowing four hits and two walks to go with five strikeouts.

Rodon might eventually be looking up at Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease in the Sox’s rotation, but everything is in place for a breakout season.

“You can tell that the psychological burden of being hurt or recovering is gone,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “I think he’s ready to take that next step in his career now. He’s in a really good spot to take off on some of the success he’s been able to piece together while healthy the last couple of years.”

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