1. Is this a good time to appreciate what Carlos Rodon has been able to accomplish already in his young career? He was promoted into a major league starting rotation less than a year after he was drafted, and recorded his first double-digit strikeout game in his fifth career start. He entered Monday night’s game with a 10-game quality start streak going, in which he had not allowed more than two runs. That’s quite the resume.
Perhaps now would be a good time to sit back and admire it, after he just showed the world that he’s a work in progress, with a lot of progress still needed. Monday night against the badly slumping Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Rodon had the shortest Sox start since Neal Cotts walked the park at Yankees Stadium in 2003. Rodon was mercifully pulled after a third of an inning but not before doing his darnedest to prove beyond the shadow of the doubt that he was going to miss by a foot to the armside on every other throw until Robin Ventura forced him to stop.
Rodon is never going to be anything more than average at the very best with his command, and even that would represent a triumph over the violent mechanics and inconsistencies that have been present in his delivery throughout his career, and which reared their head fully on Monday night. Scouting friend of the blog Mauricio Rubio from 2080 Baseball, noted Rodon’s head whack was more pronounced, along with a stiffer back through his start, and given how messy he was last week in Minnesota, it’s no surprise things crested here.
Not to minimize a clearly awful and troubling night for someone serving as the Sox No. 3 starter this year, and a guy who ideally surpasses Jose Quintana by the end of the season, but if anyone was going to completely lose their mechanics in a start this year, it was going to be Rodon, and if anyone was going to have it be a natural point in their development, it was going to be Rodon. And if anyone can straighten out and strike out 10 guys his next time out…well, this is getting repetitive.
It’ll be a fun update from Rodon’s throw day this week with Don Cooper, because it will certainly merit some attention.
2. There was real human cost to Rodon’s wildness, as J.B. Shuck got optioned to Triple-A to free up space for another bullpen arm after Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam and Dan Jennings (49 pitches!) all logged several innings of mop-up.
Shuck has lost some of his place on the team so far this year. His scratch outfield defense and speed is not the godsend it was to a team that now starts Austin Jackson, and has Tyler Saladino on the bench. And his hegemony over opportunities against left-handed pitching is infringed upon by Jerry Sands. Starting out the year by reaching base once in 11 trips isn’t helping either, so while getting optioned seems like a minor inconvenience, it carries a real threat for Shuck, and it’s all because Rodon couldn’t throw a strike.
3. Credit to Rodon for momentarily distracting from the moribund White Sox offense, which has now scored five runs in four games, and hasn’t even scored as many as four runs in a week. It can feel like nitpicking since they are 8-5 and superficially off to the superficial hot start they desperately needed, but three runs per game and the worst TAv in all of baseball are very real reasons for concern.
Chief among these concerns would be Todd Frazier, who is now 2-for-23 over the last week with 10 strikeouts, replete with a lot of worrisome whiffs on fastballs in the zone. Early, unstabilized pitch whiff data indicates he’s certainly in a bad stretch of whiffing on ~15% of hard stuff–certainly a bad spike–but not unprecedented for cold snaps in his career. Combined with admitted pressing and poor plate judgement, and we have an awful, interminable slump from the heart of the offense, for a franchise that really cannot endure another big-ticket offensive addition tanking on them.
4. It’s natural over the course of a season for holes to emerge in the lineups and rotations of contending teams. There are too many variables with injuries, declining veterans, disappointing youngsters, and random down years for even the best teams to not have a reason to add at the trade deadline.
Where the Sox are not done any favors is that this natural process is taking place alongside their work-in-progress DH situation. Adam LaRoche‘s sudden retirement always necessitated the addition of another left-handed bat, and Avisail Garcia is more than likely not going to develop into a capable major league hitter, nor a suitable platoon half. This situation could have been addressed all offseason, but instead was allowed to fester, and is now presumed to be something they will be on the lookout to fix with some of their new-found surplus money as the season develops. But having a built-in fixer-upper position heading into the year gives them extra work on top of the distinct possibilities that the catching platoon remains dreadful, Jackson’s bat continues its downward trend, or shortstop remains a sinkhole and Tim Anderson is not ready. The Sox currently look at least a bat short, but could be distinctly in need of two by mid-year.
Which is all to say, they really cannot afford this Frazier situation to tank on them.
The prospect of this incredibly bizarre and unique situation getting played up as a heartwarming father-son story and not a dispatch from The Land of the Super Rich and Oddly Employed is disconcerting, but at least it offers the chance of another extremely weird LaRoche revelation.
UPDATE: No it did not. Apparently LaRoche and a journeyman relief pitcher working as undercover agents collecting intel on southeast Asian sex trafficking rings was the last great reveal of this saga. For shame.
Lead Photo Image: Kim Klement // USA Today Sports Images