The lowdown on FA starter Carlos Rodón

November 10th, 2021

Carlos Rodón finally realized the potential last season that made him the No. 3 overall Draft pick by the White Sox in 2014. The 28-year-old left-hander bounced back from injury-plagued seasons in 2019 and '20 to have a breakout year for the American League Central champions in 2021. Now he's a free agent.

Here’s what you need to know about Rodón:

FAST FACTS
Birthdate: Dec. 10, 1992 (Age 29 in 2022)
Primary position: SP
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 245 lbs.
Bats/throws: Left/left
Place of birth: Miami, Fla.
School(s): Holly Springs (N.C.) HS, North Carolina State
Drafted: 1st round (3rd), 2014, by White Sox
MLB debut: April 21, 2015
Qualifying offer: Did not receive one

THE NUMBERS
2021: 13-5, 2.37 ERA (183 ERA+), 185 K, 5.0 WAR* in 132 2/3 IP
Career: 42-38, 3.79 ERA (110 ERA+), 710 K, 11.5 WAR in 669 1/3 IP
*Per Baseball-Reference

STAT TO KNOW
Among pitchers who threw at least 130 innings in 2021, Rodón led the American League in ERA and ERA+, strikeouts per nine innings (12.6), strikeout rate (34.6%), K-BB% (27.9%), batting average allowed (.189), on-base percentage allowed (.255), slugging percentage allowed (.306) and OPS allowed (.560).

QUESTION MARK
It's the health of Rodón's arm. Rodón dealt with left shoulder soreness and fatigue throughout the second half of 2021, never throwing more than five innings or 90 pitches after July 18. Even at the end of the year, his status for Chicago's playoff run was in question, although he was ultimately able to make his ALDS start. Given that Rodón has had Tommy John and shoulder surgeries in the past, teams might be wondering whether his arm can hold up to a full-season workload.

He just threw the 20th no-hitter in White Sox history
Rodón no-hit the Indians in front of the home crowd in Chicago on April 14 -- and he nearly had a perfect game, too, retiring the first 25 batters he faced before hitting Roberto Pérez with a back-foot slider in a 1-2 count in the ninth inning. Rodón still completed the no-hitter, the 20th in White Sox franchise history, most of any American League team. He became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter within two years of having Tommy John surgery.

He dialed up the heat this season
Rodón threw harder than ever before in 2021 … a lot harder. His average fastball velocity of 95.4 mph was over a full mph faster than his previous career high of 94.2 mph as a rookie. He even started hitting triple digits. Rodón topped 100 mph five times, including three different strikeout pitches. He'd only ever touched 100 mph once in his career, back in 2016. Now he has three of the five 100-plus mph strikeouts by a White Sox starting pitcher in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008).

He's got a wipeout slider
As great as Rodón's fastball was this season, his slider was even better. He got 91 strikeouts on his slider in 2021 -- one more than he got on his four-seamer -- and allowed a batting average of just .107 and a slugging percentage of .126 against it. Rodón's slider had the lowest batting average and slugging percentage allowed of any pitch type with 150-plus plate appearances decided on it last season.

But if you don't want to choose -- Rodón's 181 combined strikeouts with his four-seam/slider combo were second-most of any pitcher, behind only MLB strikeout leader Robbie Ray.

He used to play with Trea
Rodón was college teammates with 2021 MLB batting champion Trea Turner at NC State, which meant Wolfpack fans got to see Rodón's power slider in the rotation and Turner's electric speed sparking the lineup before the two of them both got drafted in the first round in 2014 (Rodón third overall, Turner 13th). Rodón and Turner even led NC State to its first College World Series appearance since 1968 in 2013. Rodón went 10-3 with a 2.99 ERA and 184 strikeouts in 132 1/3 innings that year, while Turner batted .368 with 30 stolen bases.