Fewer strikeouts, more skin net better results for White Sox’ Carlos Rodon
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DETROIT — Carlos Rodon will try to keep the best run of his career going – and he shall remain shirtless as long as it continues – when the White Sox close out their series against the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon.
Owner of a 1.40 ERA in his last six starts, a stretch in which he has not worn an undershirt beneath his jersey, Rodon has struck out 36 batters in 42.2 innings. He has pitched at least six innings in all six of those starts and worked into the eighth inning in four of them.
“Not too many strikeouts, but I’ll take going eight or seven [innings],’’ said Rodon, who, after averaging nine strikeouts per nine innings during his first three seasons, is at 7.2 but pitching better overall in 2018.
Rodon, who didn’t pitch before June 9 after having shoulder surgery last year, has an ERA of 0.98 in his last five outings, the second-lowest in baseball during that span behind the Pirates’ Trevor Williams (0.68).
It’s not the unbuttoned look that’s getting it done.
“It’s just getting ahead of hitters, being ahead with strike one,’’ Rodon said. “My changeup has been working. I’m commanding it more, and I’m getting early swings with it. And pitching in with the fastball. Seems like I’m getting a lot of outs on popups and ground balls, and the defense has helped me, too. All of that has helped me pitch deep in games.’’
Rodon’s mid- to upper-90s fastball and premium slider always have been his calling cards, but a third plus pitch could help him maintain the elite level he’s pitching at.
“The changeup is coming along nicely,’’ he said.
Rodon also has been sporting a different look — the untied top button on his jersey — that has drawn much attention on Twitter. He says he always has left the top button untied, but he hasn’t worn an undershirt since his start against the Astros in Houston on July 5, when he pitched six innings of two-run ball in a 4-3 loss.
“Funny story,’’ he said. “In Houston, I put hot [ointment] on my arms, and you sweat a lot in Houston anyway, even though it’s indoors. So I was sweating like crazy warming up with the hot stuff on. The undershirt had it caked on, and I was walking around, constantly moving. And I was like, ‘Screw it, I have to take this undershirt off.’ Four minutes before the game.
“I just didn’t put one back on. Pitched well, so I stayed with it.’’
So as long as Rodon keeps dealing, or until the weather gets cold — whichever comes first — the exposed upper-chest look is here to stay.
“I hope people enjoy it,’’ he said. “It’s just my look, I guess.’’
Moncada goes to the dentist
Yoan Moncada had the first of a two-step root-canal procedure done in suburban Detroit and was out of the starting lineup, but he returned in time for the game and was available, manager Rick Renteria said. The second step will be done Thursday, a day off.
This and that
Catcher Welington Castillo, eligible to come off the suspended list (80 days for violating the MLB drug policy) Aug. 23, is working out in Arizona, “getting himself back in shape,’’ Renteria said.
• Class A Winston-Salem outfielder Luis Gonzalez and left-hander Kyle Kubat were named Carolina League Player and Pitcher of the Week.