Saturday night saw left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon‘s debut as a starter for the Chicago White Sox. Rodon was a starter at North Carolina State for three years before being drafted by the White Sox third overall in the 2014 amateur draft. Rodon made fourteen starts for NC State before being picked, pitching 98.2 innings to the tune of a 2.01 ERA and three complete games. Rodon reported to the Arizona rookie league after being selected, and ended 2014 at Triple-A Charlotte.
Fast forward to the offseason. There was speculations all around Rodon. Some said he would go the Mark Buehrle/Chris Sale route, in which Rodon would work out of the bullpen his first season or two, and then make the leap to the rotation further down the line. Other’s said that given the general weakness of the back end of the White Sox rotation Rodon could break Spring camp as the fifth starter in the White Sox rotation.
Fast forward again to Spring Training 2015. Rodon pitched well in camp, accumulating a healthy ERA of 3.06 over 17.2 innings with 21 strikeouts. General Manager Rick Hahn apparently was not convinced, as Rodon was optioned to Charlotte to begin the season, but it was still expected that the 22-year-old would make an appearance in some capacity this season.
This held true, as Rodon was called up on April 20. The lefty made his big-league debut a day later, on the 21st of April against the Indians, pitching 2.1 innings out of the bullpen. Yes, Rodon had been called up to work as a long-relief man out of the ‘pen. However, with Hector Noesi and John Danks both struggling in the rotation, the notion was that as long as Rodon could put together a few good outings out of the bullpen, he would replace one of the struggling starters (likely Noesi). The young pitcher had a shaky first appearance, as he gave up two runs on three hits in the 2.1 innings of work. Management was not scared away, however, as Rodon would make two more relief appearances, both scoreless. The first was against the Baltimore Orioles April 29 (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R), the second against the Minnesota Twins (3 IP, 6 H, 0 R).
Rodon would then be called upon to make a spot start in place of the suspended Jeff Samardzija. Saturday, May 9, saw Rodon’s debut as a starter, and the lefty impressed against the Cincinnati Reds. Rodon went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out eight. Rodon said after the game, “I felt comfortable. Two-seamer was working good. I could throw that nice and easy, and it has that late life and sink.”
Rodon isn’t the only one feeling comfortable, as Hahn announced today that Rodon would be making the permanent leap to the rotation. Hahn had more to say about Rodon’s scheduling, seeming to emphasize how the team would not be running their future star into the ground. “This is going to be a process, though,” Hahn said. “This isn’t something that he’s going to start taking the ball every fifth day. He will start Friday in Oakland and then, although we’ve mapped out through the All-Star break, tentatively what the plan will be, we are going to remain flexible and may have to make some alterations. There will be periods and breaks in this process.”
As the team has been struggling to start the season and has completely under-performed given their offseason, the arrival of Rodon gives the fans something to get excited about. Rodon will carry a 1-0 record and a 2.91 ERA into Oakland on Friday.