One month ago, Carlos Rodón was battling for the fifth starter spot in the Chicago White Sox rotation, after undergoing Tommy John surgery, dealing with shoulder issues and getting non-tendered by the team.
On Wednesday, he was completing the 20th no-hitter in White Sox history.
The left-hander entered the history books against the Cleveland Indians, allowing no hits in nine innings for the second White Sox no-hitter in as many years. Lucas Giolito accomplished the same in 2020. It is also the second no-no in MLB this year, coming less than a week after Joe Musgrove's historic night.
As impressive as a no-hitter is for Rodón, he was only two outs from the 24th perfect game in MLB history. A hit-by-pitch off the ankle of Roberto Perez led to Cleveland's first baserunner of the game in the ninth inning. A profane chant from the Guaranteed Rate Field faithful followed.
Rodón's final line: nine innings, no hits, no walks, one hit-by-pitch, seven strikeouts, 114 pitches.
Adding to the impressiveness of the night was that Rodón only got stronger as he went on. His first fastball of the night came in at 92.4 mph, with his velocity progressing until he hit 98.8 mph against the final batter of the game.
A stunning comeback for Carlos Rodón
Either way, the accomplishment is a stunning feat for Rodón, a former top prospect and third overall pick who became an afterthought in Chicago's current youth movement.
In the six seasons before 2021, Rodón held a 4.14 ERA, and had especially struggled since 2018. Always a talented pitcher, he simply couldn't stay healthy, and never took the step forward so many expected of him. His nadir came in 2020, when he made only four appearances (8.22 ERA) in sporadic fashion due to a shoulder issue, possibly related to Tommy John surgery in 2019. After that season, the White Sox non-tendered him.
Rodón returned to Chicago on a one-year, $3 million deal and spent spring training in a battle with Reynaldo Lopez for the fifth starter spot. He earned the nod after three strong starts and credited a change in mechanics for his progress, per MLB.com's Scott Merkin:
"I think a lot of that has made me more consistent with my fastball and my command of all my pitches.
“My mechanics have cleaned up a lot and taken a lot of stress off my body as a whole. It’s less stress on my arm the way I’m throwing now than I was before, because I utilize my lower half better. It just takes that energy, or that stress, out of my arm. I feel confident that it can carry me through a whole season.”
Now, Rodón has opened his season with 14 shutout innings plus a little piece of history. In a season of high hopes for the White Sox, that can only be a good sign.
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