One of the biggest questions after the 2021 season is whether the White Sox should bring back star pitcher Carlos Rodon. Although Rodon was injured for a good portion of the season, it is undeniable that his contributions were immense, as he finished second on the White Sox in rWAR, only trailing Lance Lynn.
Rodon finished 2021 with a 2.37 ERA in 24 games and 132.2 IP, a season which would have most likely resulted in a Cy Young had he remained healthy. For everyone that’s wondering if he just had a lucky year, his fxWAR was 2.63, which isn’t that far off from his 2.37 regular ERA.
That said, it’s still hard to believe that a season of that caliber could have come seemingly out of nowhere. His 2.37 ERA beats a previous career ERA of a modest 4.14 by a lot; needless to say he did something right in 2021. The question is, what did he do right?
His last full season was 2016, which says something about his injury history. In 2016, he finished with a 4.04 ERA and a 4.01 FIP, a fairly modest season. In that season, he threw his 4-seam fastball 38.7% of the time, his sinker 21.1% of the time, his changeup 10.1% of the time, and his slider 25% of the time. In 2021, however, he cut out his sinker entirely. That means that his 3 pitch combo of his 4-seamer, changeup, and slider was all he threw. He actually threw curveballs 1.6% of the time, but that’s practically irrelevant.
As you can see here, his different pitches definitely affected his performance. His magical 2021 season wasn’t due to luck at all–it was due to him changing his pitch usage. Cutting out his sinker entirely was most likely the best move for Rodon, as evidenced here.
So we’ve established that Rodon is a solid pitcher. Now let’s answer the main question: will he come back in 2022? At this point, I would say it’s 50/50. His agent is Scott Boras, who is notorious for negotiating big contracts for his undeserving clients. Given that Boras and Rodon will most likely want a long term deal, it will be a tough decision for the Sox given Rodon’s injury history.
If the Sox are going to get Rodon back, it’s going to have to be on a 1 or 2 year contract; I doubt that the Sox are willing to lock in a long term commitment to Rodon.
In conclusion, Rodon is an excellent pitcher. His odds of returning to Chicago in a Sox uniform, though, are 50/50 or lower. Is this good news or bad news? I’ll let you decide.
Photo Credit: Chicago White Sox Twitter @whitesox