Take a bow, Carlos Rodón.
From all the injuries and being non-tendered, Rodón rose up and made history on Wednesday. The former third overall pick pitched the 20th no-hitter in Chicago White Sox history in an 8-0 win over Cleveland. Let’s get to what made him special.
Also, a tip of the cap to Zack Collins, who caught just his 16th career game.
A night these two will remember forever. pic.twitter.com/yEgQE0jQY5— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 15, 2021
Arguably most impressive about Rodón’s performance was how he got stronger as the no-hitter progressed. He limited Cleveland to two of its seven hard-hit balls in the final three innings, while his velocity increased in the ninth inning.
A couple of defensive plays saved the no-hitter, especially José Abreu’s sliding to first that barely beat Josh Naylor in the ninth inning. He also forced a tough out in a 3-1 count to José Ramírez, which Andrew Vaughn handled well in left field in the seventh inning. But for most of the game, Cleveland couldn’t touch Rodón — other than Roberto Pérez’s foot — and even the hard-hit balls were hit right at defenders. Rodón struck out seven batters.
He owned a game score of 101 during a 114-pitch performance, which was his highest pitch count since July 29, 2018 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Rodón threw 133 pitches all of last season.
4-seam fastball: 50% | 7 called strikes + 12 whiffs (39%) | 95 mph avg.
Slider: 25% | 3 called strikes + 5 whiffs (42%) | 86 mph avg.
Changeup: 23% | 8 called strikes + 2 whiffs (18%) | 86.3 mph avg.
Curveball: 3% | 3 called strikes + 0 whiffs | 77 mph avg.
What’s the opposite of Rodón’s no-hitter? Whatever Zach Plesac did on Wednesday.
The Cleveland starter recorded two outs, as the White Sox hit the ball hard to give Cleveland’s outfield a cardio workout. Plesac left after facing nine hitters, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and six hard-hit balls, which was highlighted by Yermín Mercedes’ 431-foot three-run home run.
It was shocking not only because of how Shane Bieber handled the White Sox on Tuesday, but also because Plesac held Chicago to four earned runs in 20 2⁄3 innings (3 starts) last season. Plesac finished with a game score of ... 6.
The White Sox seemingly took their frustration out on Plesac, even if he only lasted 26 pitches:
Changeup: 35% | 1 called strike + 1 whiff (20%) | 85.1 mph avg.
Slider: 31% | 2 called strikes + 0 whiffs | 86.4 mph avg.
4-seam fastball: 27% | 0 called strikes + 0 whiffs | 91.7 mph avg.
Curveball: 8% | 0 called strikes + 0 whiffs | 77.8 mph avg.
Fastest pitch: Rodón’s fastest pitch clocked in at 98.8 mph to Jordan Luplow in the final at-bat of the night. It was called a ball. Rodón owned the five fastest pitches, with three coming in the ninth inning. He was throwing gas.
Let's update that through the end:— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 15, 2021
Hey, 98.8 in the 9th there? His fastest pitch since 2016. pic.twitter.com/gGPB6wgDFL
Most swing-and-misses: Rodón induced 19 whiffs, a 35% whiff rate.
To anyone watching, the most pressure was obviously the final out of the no-hitter. To analytics, which have no emotions, it came in the first inning, when José Abreu flew out to Naylor and advanced Adam Eaton to third base. It clocked in with a 1.81 LI.
Zach Plesac’s average player index (0.97 pLI) led all players by a wide margin. He instantly put runners on base and the White Sox moved them into scoring position.
Abreu and Moncada each owned a 0.43 pLI, but how much pressure did Rodón feel in that ninth inning?
Yermín Mercedes turned a strong start into an excellent first inning. His three-run home run swayed the odds by 15.2% (0.152 WPA) in favor of the White Sox. Chicago ended up doubling its scoring the rest of the game.
Yermín Mercedes is out of this world. pic.twitter.com/MriYTmaqCr— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 15, 2021
By going 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs, Yermín Mercedes owned a .151 WPA. He’s now hitting .500 with a 1.363 OPS on the season.
Rodón finished second, with a .110 WPA.
Luckiest hit: An eight-run performance involves at least a little luck. Luis Robert’s RBI double in the third inning owned a .070 xBA. The White Sox had three base hits with a sub-.100 xBA, including singles from Nick Madrigal and Mercedes.
Toughest out: Andrew Vaughn’s double down the left-field line will get the attention, but he also smoked a ball into the right-center field gap. He hit it 103.2 mph, but it was caught by Naylor. It recorded an .890 xBA.
The closest Cleveland got to ruining Rodón’s no-hitter came on José Ramírez’s seventh-inning at-bat. Ramírez’s had an .820 xBA that traveled 110.6 mph. Naylor’s .540 xBA on his ninth inning out does justice to how close he was to spoiling history.
Hardest hit: Yermín Mercedes unleashed a 431-foot home run that looked every bit of the moonshot of his 485-foot bomb from the home opener six days ago. He admired the gargantuan bomb as it soared through the night at a scorching 111.2 mph.
The final out by Luplow was hit at 99.4 mph, which was the seventh hard-hit ball Rodón allowed.
Weakest contact: Yoán Moncada’s ground out in the second inning was hit at only 57.9 mph. It was a drastic decrease from his 101.1-mph RBI single in the first inning, which opened the scoring.
Longest hit: Yermín Mercedes gets the honor, with his 431-foot blast in the six-run first inning.
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average
Who was the White Sox’s MVP in Wednesday’s historic win over Cleveland?
This poll is closed
Carlos Rodón: NO-HITTER
Yermin Mercedes: 3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI
Nick Madrigal: 3-for-4, RBI
Yoan Moncada: 1-for-5, RBI, made final out of no-hitter
Who was the White Sox’s Cold Cat in Wednesday night’s win over Cleveland?
This poll is closed
Jose Abreu: 0-for-3, 2 BB, 2 SO
Zack Collins: 0-for-4