Monday, March 7, 2016


Sometimes it is just plain obvious that a young pitcher or hitter will become a star.  They have a natural ability that hints at dominance as long as they work out a few kinks.  For a young pitcher who can throw hard, more often then not that means fine-tuning their control which often can be very shaky initially.  One only has to look at the best pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw to see how this can be done.  When Kershaw first came up with the Dodgers, he control was brutal at times.  Once the light bulb went on there, Kershaw never turned back as he made the Cy Young Award his personal trophy while putting up numbers not seen since Sandy Koufax. 

That brings us to the imminent emergence of the Chicago White Sox' Carlos Rodon who seems himself to be on the cusp of becoming a front-line pitcher in the near future.  Despite only being 22 years old, Rodon was promoted to the White Sox soon after the start of the 2015 season but he was slated for bullpen duty and not the rotation.  Throwing off the routine of a young starter is never a good idea as the White Sox found out when Rodon bombed right away with a 5.40 ERA at the end of April.  The White Sox quickly moved Rodon to the rotation where he was more comfortable and initially the kid acquitted himself well with a 3.20 ERA but with an ugly 1.70 WHIP due to a ridiculous 16 walks in 25.1 innings.  Then the bottom fell out as Rodon posted ungodly ERA's of 4.73 in June and 6.57 in July as the walks continued to pile up and the hits were falling in way too often for someone who throws so hard.  Faced with a tough decision on exposing Rodon to more beatings and in the process hurting his confidence, the White Sox decided to stick with him in believing the light bulb would go on at some point. 

That is just exactly what happened as Rodon would make 9 more starts in August and September and the results would be spectacular.  Showing off the blazing fastball that approaches 100-mph, Rodon reeled off an August ERA of 2.48 which was followed by an even better 2.03 mark in September.  In his final 59.1 innings, Rodon punched out 52 batters and gave up just 44 hits.  Even more intriguing was the fact Rodon walked 23 batters which was a rate quite a bit below what he did the first four months.  Put it all together and the Rodon version from August and September was what his fantasy baseball owners thought they would be getting all along.

As we look to 2016, Rodon once again is a prime fantasy baseball sleeper and probably at a higher rate then a year ago.  His first spring start was very encouraging as well as Rodon tossed three scoreless innings while giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out two batters.  There is some major breakout potential here with Rodon who could strike out 180-plus batters even with a slight innings limitation in 2016, to go along with a good ERA.  The WHIP could still be a bit shaky as Rodon will likely battle some control since he is still young but you can count on one hand young pitchers who carry as much upside. 


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