Yermin Mercedes’ three-run homer keys six-run first vs. Indians’ Zach Plesac
Shoulder and Tommy John surgeries have sidetracked Carlos Rodon. Not receiving a contract offer from the team that drafted and developed him and made him its Opening Day starter two years ago shook him up.
You didn’t think an upset stomach was going to knock the White Sox left-hander off course, did you?
Two days after missing his second start of the season with a stomach bug that was going around his family — Rodon and his wife have two young children — Rodon took on the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, and his bounce-back season from a rough 2020 campaign took another dazzling step forward by taking a perfect game into the seventh inning.
Wednesday’s start followed his first one, in which the former No. 3 overall draft pick stymied the Mariners with five scoreless innings and nine strikeouts last Monday. And that came on the heels of an impressive spring that oozed optimism as Rodon, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, allowed two runs over four outings covering 13 2/3 innings, striking out 16 and walking only one batter.
A six-run first inning, keyed by Yermin Mercedes’ three-run, 431-foot homer, provided a comfy cushion for Rodon to work against the Indians. Andrew Vaughn doubled and scored, and Leury Garcia and Nick Madrigal had RBI singles as the Sox knocked Indians starter Zach Plesac out in the first.
Luis Robert’s ground rule RBI double added a seventh Sox run, and Yoan Moncada got grazed on the wrist by a pitch from Phil Maton with the bases loaded as the Sox extended their lead to 8-0.
Through seven innings, Rodon relied less on strikeouts as he had in his first start and in spring training, fanning three batters. Mixing his changeup and slider with a four-seam fastball that touched 97 mph when he needed it, Rodon was at 84 pitches (53 strikes) through seven.
After the Sox non-tendered Rodon this offseason, he committed to a healthier diet and went to work on altering some mechanical issues, making fixes in his delivery that have helped him command pitches better and would seen to bode well for a healthier future.
The Sox came back with a one-year contract at $3 million, which he accepted knowing a good season and staying healthy would set him up for a bigger payday when he becomes a free agent after the season. So there is that incentive working
“This is a free agent year,” Rodon told the Sun-Times in March. “The way I look at it is, go out there and compete and things will take care of themselves.”
Just how many innings Rodon will log this season is an unknown. His career high is 165 in 2016.
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I don’t even know the answer to that. I’d like to make as many starts as I can. Now, knowing what will keep me healthy for the next several years I’m not sure. What an innings limit will look like, I don’t know the outlook on that.’’
Or the outlook on what his career holds.
“As long as I can wake up and throw the baseball, that’s how long I want to play,” he said.