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2021 White Sox: Carlos Rodón’s Not So Impossible Journey

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“It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball,” I thought as I listened to Jason Benetti teach a masterclass on announcing during a 2021 White Sox/Carlos Rodón no-hitter watch. How does a player go from a first-round draft pick to a highly scrutinized pitcher plagued with injuries just to begin the 2021 season with a no-hitter? On April 14, Carlos Rodón became the 20th player in White Sox history to throw a no-hitter, the second of the 2021 season and first for the 2021 White Sox this season. Getting there however, seemed nearly impossible.

Rodón nearly had a perfect game if it wasn’t for the foot of Roberto Pérez late in the ninth inning. The younger guys put in work as Andrew Vaughn excelled in left field and Zack Collins, only 16 games into his career was behind the plate, but a recorded (after a replay) out by José Abreu and a great throw by Yoán Moncada helped seal the deal for a no-hitter. Rodon struck out seven and threw a total of 114 pitches. The rest of that night will go down in history. And to think, Rodón wasn’t even supposed to play that day.

2021 White Sox: How Did Carlos Rodón Get Here

Rodón was drafted in the first round, third overall by the White Sox in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft. In 2013, White Sox fans were hoping to tank the season so Rodón could be drafted at #1. While a complete tank didn’t pan out, the White Sox still managed to get their guy behind the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins. It’s worth noting that the top two are no longer playing in the league. 

Just 11 days after signing with the White Sox, Rodón made his debut with the Arizona League White Sox. Rodón would have success for the Winston-Salem Dash before being promoted to the Charlotte Knights where he debuted on August 19.

Rodón was called up to the major league on April 20, 2015 and would make his White Sox debut the next day. He pitched just over two innings, giving up two runs, walked three batters, and struck out Lonnie Chisenhall for his first Major League strikeout. Rodón’s first start and first win took place in the second game of a May 9 doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds, only giving up two earned runs in six innings on four hits, four walks and eight strikeouts. 

Carlos Rodón: Plagued With Injuries

Before long, Rodón would begin his frequent stints on the injured list. In July of 2016, a wrist sprain. In 2017, Rodón was only about to start 12 games. He started 2018 on the 60 day disabled list due to a shoulder injury. On March 18, 2019, the White Sox announced Rodón would be the Opening Day starter but just two months later it was announced that he would undergo Tommy John surgery and be out for the remainder of the season. 

In 2020, Rodón only appeared in 4 games, compiling a 0-2 record with 8.22 ERA and 6 strikeouts in ​7 23 innings pitched. He faced only three batters in the deciding game of last year’s playoffs and gave up two walks and a double before getting pulled. By December 2, he was non-tendered by the White Sox. On January 30, 2021, Rodón re-signed with the White Sox on a one-year, $3 million contract. I was certainly not the only one that disagreed with this signing, feeling as though Rodón likely wouldn’t bounce back and another starting pitcher should have been acquired. I’ve never been so happy to say I was wrong. 

2021 White Sox: Perhaps Re-Signing Was The Right Move

Was the promise there all along? His high school and college career would lead me to believe so. As a freshman, Rodón was nominated for and won several awards while breaking collegiate records. He was ranked as the top prospect and earned a spot on Team USA’s National Collegiate Baseball Team in 2012. In his sophomore year, he brought North Carolina State to the College World Series. Rodón was back on Team USA in the summer of 2013. Had he not been plagued with injuries for years, would we be having the conversation about how he is in the same ranks as other White Sox greats? 

This no-hitter comes just eight months after Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter, another player that seemed to be the worst in the pack before having a breakout season. Perhaps it’s time to trust the process for this 2021 White Sox season and romanticize baseball again. We’re all lucky to witness lightning in a bottle twice in under a year. 

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Chrystal is a lifelong baseball fan that spends her time between Indianapolis and Chicago.