With the return of the 2020 MLB season, there are few intriguing storylines that we will see play out over the next few weeks, and much like everyday life has become, these uncertainties are only posed to the White Sox because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When we last saw the White Sox, they were basking in the vibes of a team that felt it was on the cusp of something special. Maybe a playoff push, or maybe just the first step in the dawn of a new era of White Sox baseball. Either way, the roster, and the coaching staff felt pretty darn good about where they were heading back in late February.
In an early media session at Camelback Ranch, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn had this to say, “I think we can objectively sit here today and feel like… we have three of arguably the most exciting young players in the American League under control for at least the next six years.”
While all that remains true, ‘Spring Training 2.0’ or ‘Summer Camp’ as I’ve seen it referred to by MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, will pose Rick Hahn with a few questions that the club might not have had to face in early this spring.
We’re going to try to answer some of those questions in a six-part mini-series, titled “Sox Six-Pack,” and today we continue with a look at what 2020 might hold for Carlos Rodon.
I’ve been writing about the White Sox since 2015, and one of the most perplexing topics that I’ve continuously written about is Carlos Rodon.
In 2016 I was at his debut out of the bullpen against the Cleveland Indians, I was pumped to see him get out there. In a story that I wrote for On Tap Sports Net back in February, I called his 2016 MLB debut to a microcosm of his career, one filled with inconsistency and injuries.
The 2014 first-rounder just oozes talent and ability, but staying on the field has been a huge factor in his inability to put it all together for any prolonged period of time.
Honestly, it’s the shittiest part of pro sports. Watching someone so damn talented struggle to reach their potential because of injuries, something that in most cases, they have absolutely no fault in or control over.
Rodon is now 13 months removed from his Tommy John surgery last May and will be 14 months removed when the season opens next month, making it a possibility that he can contribute in some form this season.
With the White Sox more than likely carrying six starters (Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez, Gio Gonzalez, and Michael Kopech) for the majority — if not the entirety — of the season, Carlos Rodon would likely figure into a more creative role in 2020 than he’s used to.
On Thursday, White Sox skipper Ricky Renteria made it clear that creativity will be an option in what he called a “sprint,” of a season.
“All those things are obviously on the table because of where we’re at and how guys have progressed since our downtime,” Renteria said. “Clubs have to start off as well as possible to give themselves a chance in the short season.
“It’s almost a sprint now. It’s not a marathon, and I think the challenge will be making sure that we keep everybody as healthy as possible in the short run. Hopefully, as we’ve kept in touch with everyone over the little bit of a hiatus, they’ve been doing as much as they possibly can to get themselves ready for this season.”
The White Sox will have 60 games in a 66-day period to try to earn their first postseason berth since 2008, and the players are planning on doing just that. And in a season where 40 percent of their games will be played against the trio of the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Pittsburgh Pirates, why wouldn’t they?
I’m sure that Rodon will be open to whatever assignment the club gives him, and it could be a fluid situation.
In the scenario where the five starters that we expected to break camp with the team back in March is all healthy, Rodon — and Michael Kopech — could serve as openers, make spot starts, or even be a part of a scenario where Rick Renteria stacks a pair of starters in the same game.
I’ve also said numerous times that I believe that Carlos Rodon’s stuff would play very nicely out of the bullpen in the sixth-seventh inning, in high-leverage spots.
Whatever the specifics of Rodon’s role is in 2020, it seems that two things are for certain; he’s healthy and going to be part of the mix, and his time to put it all together in Chicago is running out.
With Rodon becoming eligible for free agency after the 2021 season, the time for the team to evaluate where he fits into the long-term puzzle is dwindling away. For everyone’s sake, I hope that Rodon can finally catch a break with the injury issue and reach his tantalizing ceiling while he’s still calling 35th & Shields, home.