Revamped Rodon closes season with another solid effort
In a sense, Carlos Rodon's regular season ended much the way it started.
When he made his first trip to the mound, at Seattle on April 5, Rodon scattered 2 hits over 5 scoreless innings in a 6-0 win over the Mariners.
Making his final start Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox's left-hander allowed only 1 hit over 5 scoreless innings in a 6-1 win over the Reds at Guaranteed Rate Field.
In between, there were so many highs for Rodon, and a fair amount of lows.
Pitching a no-hitter and making his first trip to the All-Star Game fall in the former category. Dealing with soreness in his throwing shoulder for much of the second half fits in the latter one.
In his previous start before facing Cincinnati, Rodon lasted just 3 innings against the Tigers on Sept. 20 and complained of more discomfort after throwing 69 pitches and allowing 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks.
It looked like he might have been done for the year, but Rodon got another shot vs. the Reds with eight days of rest, and the Sox weren't quite sure what to expect.
"A couple times I had a doubt, 'Heck, I'm not sure if this is going to work,' " manager Tony La Russa said. "Now, can't wait to see him pitch."
It was quite a sight Wednesday night.
Unlike the season opener, when Rodon opened with 95-mph fastballs and ramped them up to 100 as he went along, he stayed around 91 mph against Cincinnati. The biting slider also was off.
Nonetheless, the results were typically stellar, and Rodon finishes the season at 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA.
"It was one of those where I didn't have my best stuff, but I went out there and pitched and tried to get outs," Rodon said. "Didn't have that overpowering fastball, but I had some secondary stuff and got some weak contact."
La Russa will wait to check on Rodon for soreness after Thursday's day off, but he was impressed with the effort.
"He has a way of getting hitters out," La Russa said. "I thought he moved the ball around, he had command of his slider, he reached back a few times. He pitched. He made pitches."
Rodon was aware the velocity was down, not that he's overly concerned.
"I went out there and got 15 outs and gave up one hit," Rodon said. "Some days, I'm not going to have it all."
Looking to secure a spot on the postseason roster, Gavin Sheets made another strong push. The rookie designated hitter opened the scoring with a 2-run homer in the second inning and added an RBI single in the fourth.
"He's really been very productive," La Russa said. "He's gotten big hits and a lot of the RBI have been important in close games. He's made a great impression."