Not many have had quite the same redemption story as Carlos Rodón has for the Chicago White Sox, who pitched a no-hitter for the White Sox in an 8-0 shutout victory against Cleveland on Wednesday.
Rodón, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, made his major league debut nearly a year later in April 2015. He threw 2 1⁄3 innings, allowing two runs, walking three and striking out one — ironically, now, against the same Cleveland franchise he no-hit last week.
That first game was a relief appearance, and Rodón would make two more relief appearances before eventually joining the rotation in 2015. His first career start came in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on May 9, when he earned his first career win by going six innings and allowing two runs on four hits, with four walks and eight strikeouts.
Rodón would finish the season with a 9-6 record and 3.75 ERA in 26 games (23 starts). The young southpaw showed flashes of elite potential, going 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA in his final nine starts.
The next year the southpaw would have many struggles, going 2-8 with several no-decisions in his first 16 starts, before landing for the first time on the injured list in July of that year with a left wrist sprain. That was probably a huge factor in Rodón going only 9-10 in 28 starts, with a 4.04 ERA in just 165 innings pitched.
In 2017, a shoulder injury (that would eventually lead to surgery) saw him miss a majority of that season — reducing him to 12 games.
It would unfortunately be much the same for Rodón and the White Sox over the next several years, as he continued to struggle to stay healthy. He started the 2018 season on the 60-day disabled list, and pitched just 31 games between that time and 2020, with Tommy John surgery lumped in during the 2019 season.
Many thought that the 28-year-old southpaw was done for and that his career was pretty much done, especially with all his struggles to stay healthy culminating in an 0-2 record with an 8.22 ERA in just 7 2⁄3 innings in four 2020 relief appearances. Worse, Rodón allowed two runs on a hit and two walks in the fourth inning of the AL Wild Card loss that booted them from the playoffs.
Rodón was non-tendered this offseason, brought back at one year, and half-price to compete for a fifth starter’s spot few thought he’d win. But Rodón worked up a very good spring, earned the fifth starter’s spot far more smoothly than Dylan Cease earned the No. 4. New pitching coach Ethan Katz helped Rodón rebuild his confidence and build high velocity on his fastball. The key, according to Katz, was an adjustment in Rodón’s lower body, which has even helped with Hard Karl’s off-speed pitches as well.
One of the remarkable aspects of Rodón’s no-hitter was how the velocity on his fastball grew all the way up to 98.8 mph by his final pitches of the game.
This is a good one: Rodón's velocity grew as the game went on, culminating in a 98.8-mph pitch in the 9th inning, his fastest in 5 years.— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) April 15, 2021
Rodón is showing, through all his adversity, that if you work hard enough and don’t quit you can still reach your full potential. We’ve all experienced that, including me, since I first started covering the White Sox in 2015 (even getting a chance to interview Rodón at Sox Fest in 2017). It's one of many reasons why you couldn’t be more happy to see it happen to such a great ballplayer and individual.
Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a continued turnaround from Rodón, helping to establish what a truly talented group this young White Sox rotation is in the process.