MINNEAPOLIS -- Here's the best news concerning Carlos Rodon, news holding true even after he was hit hard for a second straight start to finish the 2018 season during Minnesota's 8-3 victory Saturday night at Target Field.The left-handed hurler with the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation performer for the White
MINNEAPOLIS -- Here's the best news concerning Carlos Rodon, news holding true even after he was hit hard for a second straight start to finish the 2018 season during Minnesota's 8-3 victory Saturday night at Target Field.
The left-handed hurler with the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation performer for the White Sox feels good.
"Stuff felt great, arm felt great, body felt good," said Rodon after finishing his season with a 6-8 record. "Just when you can't get secondary pitches over the plate, they are going to sit heater and they are going to tee off. Especially when you leave balls over the middle and you fall behind. It's a recipe for disaster."
There was a time this season when Rodon looked to be fulfilling that ace potential.
Fully healthy after undergoing season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery last Sept. 28, Rodon put together a stretch of nine straight quality starts from the open of July through the end of August. He entered the season's final month holding an ERA of 2.70.
But a not-so-funny thing happened to Rodon once September arrived. He fell off over his last six starts, lasting one inning plus six batters into the second whom he didn't retire, allowing eight runs on six hits and four walks at Target Field Saturday. Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson earned the win, ending the best season of his career.
The totals from Rodon's final two starts against the Twins and Cubs add up to 14 earned runs over 3 1/3 innings, with 15 hits and four walks against five strikeouts. His closing ERA jumped to 4.18 after finishing with a 9.22 ERA in September.
Yet, it's difficult for Rodon to get too upset going into this offseason completely healthy and completely focused on baseball.
"It's going to be nice to not have all the rehab stuff. Take a little bit of time for myself and decompress and get back after it," said Rodon, who threw 34 of his 66 pitches for strikes. "After this one-year anniversary yesterday for shoulder surgery, they say the next year should be better.
"Hopefully find that command and build it up, build that fastball command and start throwing sliders for strikes. They don't like swinging at them."
Rodon went as far as saying when hitters see spin, they lay off the pitch -- especially when he's not commanding the fastball.
"I feel great, man," Rodon said. "I was out there today and the start before, even though I had some laboring innings, it wasn't laboring on fastballs trying to throw as hard as I can. They were coming out easy, which was nice.
"Now it's time to add the second part, which is command of the fastball and command of offspeed," Rodon added.
Minnesota claimed the first three games of this four-game set, dropping the White Sox to 99 losses. They need to win Sunday afternoon's season finale behind right-hander Dylan Covey in order to avoid the fourth 100-loss season in franchise history and the first since losing 106 in 1970. But there was a small silver lining to Saturday night's setback: It clinched the third-pick overall in the 2019 Draft for the rebuilding White Sox.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Dubious record set:Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez struck out looking to open Saturday's contest which in and of itself is not exactly a huge moment. But that second strikeout gave the White Sox a total of 1,572 as a team, which is the most in a season in Major League Baseball history. Milwaukee set the record of 1,571 in 2017. Moncada tops the Major Leagues with 216, leaving him six shy of tying Adam Dunn's club record and seven shy of tying Mark Reynolds for the all-time single-season mark. Moncada also knocked out two doubles, giving him 31 for the season, and has reached base in 30 of his last 34 games.
LIMPING TO THE FINISH
The White Sox are limping to the finish line, with shortstop Tim Anderson leaving in the bottom of the fourth due to left knee soreness being aggravated by the cold weather. Catcher Omar Narvaez, who hit an RBI single in the first inning, left with lower back stiffness, while Jose Rondon, who replaced Anderson, tweaked his left ankle on a play at first in the ninth but stayed in the game.
"Tomorrow it's about getting through," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "If I can get through tomorrow with everybody what we would consider healthy ... that's what we're shooting for right now.''
HE SAID IT
"I would love to forget about those."-- Rodon, with a half-smile, when asked to take a big-picture view of his season and forget about the last two tough starts
Covey (5-13, 5.06) is scheduled to make his 27th appearance (21st start) of the season against the Twins in Sunday's season finale at 2:10 p.m. CT. Covey is 0-6 with a 6.08 ERA over his last eight starts, but has tossed 12 scoreless innings over his last two starts against the Indians. Covey has gone 4-11 with a 5.38 ERA in 20 starts this season.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.