If you hadn’t followed Carlos Rodon’s spring and assumed that Sunday was a regular start on a regular schedule, you would have been hard-pressed to know he had been the subject of some concern.
Rodon held the Angels to just one hit (a squibbed Albert Pujols single through a vacancy in the shift), one walk (to Mike Trout) and a stolen base (to said Trout on outside-corner dart of a slider for strike three) while striking out five, including this backwards K of said Trout.
That strikeout was classic Rodon. He missed his spot by most of a plate, but the slider was crisp enough to still lock up baseball’s best player. (It doesn’t hurt that Omar Narvaez likes calling and catching the backdoor breaker.)
The hardest contact he allowed on the day was flagged down by Adam Engel on a slick sliding catch in center. Throw in another big day for Yoan Moncada, and White Sox fans saw nothing but good news, at least through the view on MLB.tv.
Based on the mystery and intrigue surrounding Rodon’s delayed start, we might have had reason to expect worse. The start of his spring was delayed, first with the sound of noble intentions and what-you-worry jokes, and then a more ominous tone of physical concerns in 2016 beyond the broken wrist. When Ricks Renteria and Hahn said that Rodon wasn’t going to be on track to start a game until the second series of the season — when he’s the No. 2 starter on paper — the story continued to track in the wrong direction.
The fact that Rodon made a start and looked Rodonny doing so reverses this slide. He could stand to throw more strikes, of course, but he worked quickly in the absence of shallow counts. The only discouraging word might be that his velocity sat 90-91 during the first inning, but his slowest fastballs are often in his first innings of work, so that data point isn’t enough fuel for hand-wringing.
If you consider his first start a base for the rest of his build-up, it’d be hard to throw down a better one. His next step: making a start every fifth day from here on out. Because Rodon and the White Sox have liked to keep us guessing this spring, they released a schedule that only covers the next four.