On Wednesday night, Chicago White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon completed the 20th no-hitter in franchise history in an 8-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Rodon threw the second no-hitter of the 2021 season and was just one hit by pitch away from having the first perfect game since Felix Hernandez in 2012. The former third overall draft selection of the 2014 MLB Draft has had a roller-coaster career with the White Sox that reached its peak on Wednesday night.

Rodon’s Career Has Been Severly limited by Injuries

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When the White Sox made Rodon their 2014 first-round selection, the team envisioned the North Carolina State left-hander as top of the rotation starter to pair with team ace Chris Sale. Rodon’s pitching style and pitching repertoire were very similar to Sale’s as both pitchers had non-tradition throwing motions along with a high-velocity fastball and sharp-breaking slider. The 2014 third overall selection would work his way quickly through the White Sox minor league system as he would make his MLB debut in April of 2015, less than 10 months after being draft.

Rodon’s rookie season has been the healthiest of his seven-year career as it has been his only season in which he did not spend time on the injury list. Towards the end of 2015, the rookie showed a lot of promise as he won his last three starts, striking out 16 and only allowing four runs. Rodon’s rookie season made many White Sox fans believe the team would have a terrific 2016 season as the starting rotation features the left-hander, Sale, and Jose Quintana.

From 2016 to 2020, Rodon’s time with the White Sox would be mired in injuries as his first injury was due to a fall injuring his left wrist, which resulted in him missing three weeks in July. Despite the setback, he started 28 games and would average six strikeouts per start. Rodon’s best start of 2016 was his last as on September 30th against the Minnesota Twins. He struck out the first seven batters he faced and would finish the game with 10.

The more severe injuries began in 2017 as Rodon would only start 12 games as he would only pitch two months during the entire season. Although playing briefly, the left-hander continued to show potential as during three consecutive starts against future World Series-winning teams in the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers, he only allowed four runs, while striking out 18 batters.

Another significant injury postponed the start of Rodon’s 2018 season as he didn’t make his debut until June. As the Sox were in the middle of the rebuild, he showed the ability to be the team’s future top starter. In a seven-game span, Rodon recorded six quality starts pitching six innings or more, allowing less than three runs and three walks. It was this seven game performance that resulted in the White Sox making Rodon their Opening Day starter for the 2019 season.

Although he pitched like a top of the rotation pitcher to start the 2019 season. Rodon’s season was ended after seven starts as he required Tommy John Surgery. Due to the COVID-19 delayed and shortened season, he rejoined the White Sox last year and was their fifth starter. Rodon’s 2020 season was again by a shoulder injury as he made a total of four appearances, two starts, and only pitched seven and two-thirds innings. Many fans believed they saw the last of the former third overall selection in the team’s game three playoff loss against the Oakland A’s as he failed to record an out in a relief appearance.

Rodon’s Potential Has Always Kept The White Sox Enticed

Despite the long history of injuries, the White Sox have stood by Rodon and have given him every chance to succeed. Just two years into his career, the team embarked on a three-year rebuild. Chicago chose to keep their 2014 first-round selection while Hahn was trading any valuable talent the White Sox had in return for minor league prospects. From December of 2016 through July of 2017, general manager Rick Hahn traded All-Stars players, including Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton, Sale, and Quintana. The White Sox could have traded Rodon and Jose Abreu but chose to keep both, although they could have gotten top-tier prospects in return.

The White Sox were not persuaded by the injuries as they could have traded Rodon or released him due to the lack of health. When the team non-tendered the left-hander following the end of 2020, he became a free agent and later re-signed with the White Sox. Through two starts to begin the 2021 season, Rodon has rewarded the White Sox as he has pitched 14 innings, struck out sixteen, and not allowed a run.

What has kept the team enticed has been Rodon’s performances when healthy. From 2017 to 2019, he made 39 starts but had multiple quality starts through the three years. Although the White Sox had young starters in Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez, and Michael Kopech to look forward to during the rebuild, they still believed Rodon had the most potential.

Wednesday night’s no-hitter was the payoff to Rodon’s commitment and dedication to recover from all the injuries that had sidelined his promising career. Against the Indians, he was in total control as only one errant pitch cost him a perfect game. There is no guarantee Rodon stays healthy for the entire 2021 season, but if he can continue to pitch dominantly, the White sox will finally have the ace they envisioned when they drafted him.

 

Steve Pusch
Eastern Illinois University graduate, Steve earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in sports. While at EIU, Steve co-hosted a weekly radio sports talk show focused on Chicago.