Rodon to continue honing changeup
DETROIT -- When Carlos Rodon next takes the mound on July 6 or 7 at home against the Blue Jays, a more complete version of the future frontline starter and current 22-year-old rookie will be on display.
That development has nothing to do with a planned extended break for Rodon of what will ultimately be two weeks since his last start Thursday at Comerica Park, but is more about the growth of his changeup. It's a pitch that the astute Rodon knew would be important to his big league repertoire back at SoxFest in January and one that he has thrown with greater confidence and conviction -- as shown by the 20 used against the Tigers per Brooks Baseball.
"Changeup development has really come a long ways," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers of Rodon. "That's going to be a big pitch for him. Not just the pitch itself, but I think the longevity of him not having to throw 60 sliders [in a start].
"Now we can throw in a fair bit of changeups to get offspeed in there instead of having to rely just on the slider. He has shown the ability to throw changeups in there for strikes and locate even later in counts.
"I'm definitely seeing him more comfortable with it," Flowers said. "You see it in the sidelines. You see it in warming up for the game. It kind of gives you the expectation of it being present in the game. He's starting to believe in it."
According to Flowers, Rodon wasn't seeing the consistency of results with the changeup during Spring Training as far as the action on it or the command. He also was trying to make the team -- or at least a strong first impression -- so Rodon didn't throw the change as much at that time.
Now that changeup gives Rodon a look somewhat akin to Chris Sale, only in the much more formative stages for Rodon.
"We saw it with Sale. We saw the way he used his changeups. It's really a game-changer for him," Flowers said. "On top of the velocity they both possess, to be able to have something that looks the same, that's 10 mph slower, both of them with pretty good sliders to go with it, that's a pretty hefty arsenal to try to defend."
Rodon realizes the changeup's important even if it's not his out pitch or even if he's not always throwing it for strikes. He was in the zone with 10 of his 20 changes Thursday per Brooks.
"Just something to keep them off balance," said Rodon, who talks to pitching coach Don Cooper about the change when they work on it during side sessions and talks with Jose Quintana about it when they throw together.
"Whatever Flo puts down is what I'm going to throw," Rodon added. "I'm comfortable with it, still developing it and trying to get better. The more you throw it, the more comfortable anyone is going to get with it."