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Rodon yet to consistently fill the zone

Left-hander has issued 15 walks in 16 innings over first three starts

CHICAGO -- There's little doubt in the minds of anyone associated with the White Sox that Carlos Rodon will develop into a frontline starter, much sooner than later.

But for the 22-year-old southpaw, who made his third big league start during a 4-3 loss to the Indians on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, this ascension clearly remains a work in progress. It's a sentiment that Rodon himself fully understands after walking five in six innings while striking out four and holding the Indians to just one run.

"Yeah, little steps, day by day, getting better," said Rodon, who threw just 56 of his 103 pitches for strikes. "I just have to fill the zone."

"Give him some time," said White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton, who homered for a second time as a member of the South Siders. "He'll be good for us and we have all the faith in the world in him. When it does come around, it's going to be dangerous."

Video: CLE@CWS: Ventura on missed opportunities

Through his three starts, Rodon has allowed 13 hits and eight earned runs over 16 innings. He has fanned 17, but the biggest issue centers on his 15 free passes.

Rodon walked one in the first inning, one in the third, one in the fourth and two in the sixth, including Jose Ramirez, who eventually scored the game-tying run. According to, Rodon threw no changeups and just 13 of his 29 sliders for strikes. What makes Rodon special, his wipeout slider and a fastball that touches the high 90s at times, also can get him into trouble when working out of the zone at this level.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura pointed out before the game that it's an adjustment for Rodon now facing more accomplished hitters, veteran players who won't offer at pitches well off the plate.

"Guys are a little more patient. You just have to throw strikes," Rodon said. "When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, that's it right there. They lay off those good sliders that usually get chased. They got in those counts where they can hit and it's tough."

"The way he fought back and got out of that inning was a positive," said Ventura of Rodon. "As he goes along, he's going to get better with command and things like that. The stuff is there, definitely. But cleaning it up, being able to get through that without giving the other team opportunities, you've got to make them beat you. You can't give them stuff like that."

This raw stuff possessed by Rodon sets him apart. It's now all about refining the basics -- throwing strike one and strike two before getting behind in the count.

"Not great, not bad, just in between," said Rodon of his no-decision. "It's tough with five walks."

"That slider he throws, he throws mid- to upper-90s as a lefty, that's tough to deal with," said Eaton of Rodon. "It's just a matter of time working with our catchers and getting his routine down and understanding what he needs to do. We think he's going to be very good."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
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