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Carlos Rodon completes successful rookie season

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White Sox' top prospect smoothed out his rough spots and turned into a force over last eight starts

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Robin Ventura suggested it before Friday's game, and he confirmed it afterward: Carlos Rodon made his last start of the season against the Yankees.

It wasn't his prettiest work, but he found uglier means to the same end: an eighth consecutive quality start to close out his season.

That stat alone represents considerable improvement for Rodon, yet it also undersells it, since he really did transform into a reliable weapon in the White Sox rotation.

These ones are a little more evocative:

W-L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB K
First 18 4-4 5.00 15 84.2 92 50 47 7 50 90
Last 8 5-2 1.81 8 54.2 38 13 11 4 21 49
Total 9-6 3.75 23 139.1 130 63 58 11 71 139

Besides the ERA, the thing that most jumps out to me is the innings per start. Over his last eight starts, he averaged better than 6⅔ innings due to a major jump in efficiency.

  • First 18: 19.1 pitches per inning
  • Last 8: 15.1 pitches per inning

And while his strikeout rate dropped when looking only at K/9IP, his overall strikeout rate remained well above the league average for starters which is 19 percent:

  • First 18: 23.2 percent
  • Last 8: 22.4 percent

When a starter is striking out 22 percent of the batters he faces while getting grounders more than a half the time on three pitches -- two-seamer, slider, changeup -- that's a formidable combination. A combination that could, I dunno, limit hitters to an OPS below .600.

And what the hell:

  • First 18: 10 stolen bases allowed in 12 attempts.
  • Last 8: Zero stolen bases in one attempt.

This was the attempt:

To sum it up, over his last eight starts, Rodon averaged nearly seven innings a start, getting an above-average amount of whiffs and an above-average amount of ground balls. He didn't give up many hits, and when he did, they didn't go for extra bases, nor could opponents steal bags themselves.

That's already a helluva pitcher, and Rodon thinks he can be even better:

"There’s room to get better," Rodon said. "You have an idea about what you have to do. I’ve been through it once here, so hopefully I feel more comfortable next year."

It's not such tall order theoretically, because walks are the lone obvious blemish. He walked three batters or more in five of those last eight outings, and it stands to reason his control will improve with experience and the benefit of having thrown 150 innings before.

On the other hand, the head whack in his delivery might put a governor on just how precise he can be. He may have to live with the walks, although after watching him succeed in spite of the occasional control burps, it might be just another thing that keeps hitters off balance.

He's not going to win Rookie of the Year, as an eyeballing of the numbers says he'll finish a comfortable third behind the Carlos Correa-Francisco Lindor duel. The lack of leaguewide recognition will be a mild bummer, but he won't be overshadowed on the South Side. His development was the most crucial individual goal of 2015, and the success he enjoyed makes him a major player in the team's immediate future.