Rodon gets back on track with masterful outing

Lefty reaches double-digit strikeouts for third time this season

August 5th, 2017

BOSTON -- was searching for answers following a White Sox loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 25, despite striking out 11 over four innings on that particular afternoon.

Rodon was calm, though, and said he would work with pitching coach Don Cooper and bullpen coach Curt Hasler to figure things out.

Based on his masterful performance against the American League East-leading Red Sox during a 3-2 loss in 11 innings Friday, Rodon has held true to his word. Rodon's first career start at Fenway Park resulted in 11 strikeouts and no walks over 7 2/3 innings, with the lefty throwing 73 of 113 pitches for strikes.

Boston knocked out four hits, while scoring one run in the fifth. But Rodon stranded the bases loaded and allowed six hits for the night.

So what has changed for the southpaw with top-of-the-rotation sort of stuff and a truly important cog in the rebuild? It sounds as if there's one or two important words in regard to his delivery and approach developed in his side work.

"Just stay consistent. Stay in the zone," Rodon said. "There's a key there, key words that are in my head that they repeat often and the catchers repeat to me that I think when I'm out there. It helps me stay in the zone and stay consistent.

"Like I said the key word is clicking in my head, just clicking when I step on the rubber and to the plate. It's happening. You keep it going."

For the fifth time in his last nine trips to the mound dating back to the 2016 season, Rodon reached double digits in strikeouts. He is one of nine pitchers with three or more double-digit strikeout efforts this year and Rodon's three join former mentor and Boston ace Chris Sale (done 14 times) as the only AL southpaws to accomplish such a feat.

And while Sale is being mentioned, the six-time All-Star had nothing but praise for Rodon when asked about his ceiling prior to Friday's start.

"He could be as good as anybody," said Sale, who spoke with Rodon on Thursday. "He's got a sturdy frame. For longevity, that's really good. I've seen him throw 100 mph. I've seen him throw sliders at 90 or 91 with really good depth. It's just about finding it yourself too. Once it all clicks for him, it's going to be really fun to watch."

Things clicked for Rodon on Friday during this memorable moment at Fenway. Rodon was intense on the mound, yelling out a few times after big strikeouts. He built on a strong start covering 6 2/3 innings, nine strikeouts and one run allowed on July 30 against the Indians and left Friday with even greater success in just his seventh start this season.

"There's a lot of history here," Rodon said. "Luckily I got to stay out in the eighth and listen to "Sweet Caroline" from the mound. That gave me the chills. It was something special."

"Probably one of the best I've seen in a while from him," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Really attacked the strike zone. Really effective with all his pitches."