Rodón 'gave us everything' in season-ender

October 13th, 2021

CHICAGO -- It was quite a year for left-hander , who went from being non-tendered by the White Sox in December to experiencing a breakout season and starting Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Astros on Tuesday.

Rodón -- who was bothered by left shoulder soreness down the stretch -- emptied the tank against the Astros, reaching as high as 99.4 mph with his fastball, but he ultimately was charged with two runs over 2 2/3 innings in a 10-1 loss at Guaranteed Rate Field that ended the White Sox season. And with Rodón a free agent after signing a one-year deal worth $3 million in February, it could’ve been his last appearance in a White Sox uniform, although he didn’t address that possibility after the game.

"It was a fun ride. It ended a little shorter than we thought as a team," Rodón said. "But, you know, we enjoyed the time together."

Rodón is set for a significant raise this offseason. He was elite when healthy, going 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 24 starts and becoming an All-Star for the first time in his seven-year career with Chicago. He struck out 185 batters and walked just 36 in 132 2/3 innings, finally putting it all together and showing he had recovered from Tommy John surgery that limited him to a combined 13 appearances from 2019-20.

Rodón, though, saw his velocity fade down the stretch and threw just 43 innings in the second half of the season due to shoulder issues. But his velocity returned against the Astros, including a strikeout of Alex Bregman on a 98.8 mph fastball in the first inning. It was his fastest pitch since July 6 and much harder than in his last outing on Sept. 29, when his heater maxed out at 92.7 mph.

"I knew about a couple of days ago I felt pretty close to normal,” Rodón said. “And then you add in the amazing crowd. First time for me to see some playoff games at home, and it was something special.”

But after holding the Astros scoreless through two innings, Rodón saw it unravel in the third. He hit Jose Altuve with a fastball and walked both Bregman and Yordan Alvarez to load the bases with two outs. He nearly escaped the jam, getting ahead of Carlos Correa with an 0-2 count, but he gave up a two-run double on an elevated fastball to end his afternoon.

"I thought he did exactly what he did all year, he gave us everything he had," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "He gave up the base hit with two outs, but he was out there firing from the beginning. He was competing. It's exactly what he gave us all year to the extent that he had the stamina, so we all felt very good about his effort."

Rodón was part of a talented White Sox rotation that led the AL in ERA but struggled in the postseason against the Astros. , , and Rodón combined to allow 14 runs in 12 1/3 innings for a 10.22 ERA in the four-game series.

Lynn, Giolito and Cease will return next year, after Lynn signed a two-year extension during the season. struggled in 2021 but still has one year left on his deal, while will be eligible for arbitration. And could become a full-time starter after spending most of the year in relief. So the White Sox do have some in-house options and might not bring Rodón back.

Rodón knows it’s a possibility and didn’t immediately head to the clubhouse after the game, wanting to soak it all in from the dugout despite the loss.

“You just kind of think through the season you had,” Rodón said. “And then you look at the guys out on the field that are cheering in front of you. For me, I wanted that feeling. That's why I just sat there -- sat there and watched just for a little extra motivation and let that sit there for me.”

Rodón also thanked the White Sox fans for their support over the years. He dealt with injuries and the expectations that come with being the No. 3 overall pick in 2014 MLB Draft, but still put together a memorable 2021 season.

“It's been an interesting road for me, and just to have the opportunity to pitch an important game, it meant a lot,” Rodón said. “So thank you, White Sox fans, and thank you to the organization.”