After White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon exited his start Monday against the Tigers after three innings with shoulder soreness, manager Tony La Russa expressed doubt about whether he would make another start during the regular season.
On Tuesday, however, La Russa said the Sox hope to get Rodon ready to make a start next Wednesday against the Reds in the final homestand of the season.
‘‘We had a long conversation, [and] we’re going to do some stuff with the idea of getting him ready for the game [next Wednesday] against Cincinnati,’’ La Russa said before the Sox’ 5-3 loss to the Tigers. ‘‘His comment after the game was that he was tired. He also said he was sore and is sore this morning. Hopefully it’s normal soreness, and we’ll do a bunch of stuff to get him ready. And keep our fingers crossed that he’s good to go.’’
Having fingers crossed is no way to go into the postseason. But between Rodon’s iffy status and left-hander Dallas Keuchel’s poor second half — bad enough to make his five innings of two-run, 11-hit ball Tuesday seem decent but far from convincing — the Sox’ starting rotation heads into the final 12 days of the regular season with unwanted question marks.
Rodon’s start in the Sox’ 4-3 loss Monday, his first outing in 10 days, was cut short after 69 pitches. He allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out six.
‘‘We’re concerned,’’ La Russa said after the game.
Rodon looked concerned in the dugout but tried to downplay the issue afterward, calling it ‘‘normal soreness, nothing crazy.’’ He appeared frustrated and disappointed and didn’t want to discuss how he felt. He abruptly cut short his question-and-answer session with the media.
La Russa, however, said: ‘‘I don’t see how he’ll pitch next week.’’ But Rodon badly wants to and will get his wish. He also needs the work to maintain whatever stamina he has, so that he would be equipped to pitch past three innings should he get a start in the postseason, most likely in the American League Division Series against the Astros.
Rodon has enjoyed his best season, throwing a no-hitter against the Indians and making the All-Star team, but he has been limited to two starts in August and three in September, none lasting longer than five innings. He will be a free agent after the season.
The most pressing question for the Sox now is whether he can fill a spot in their playoff rotation.
‘‘That’s why he needs to go on the mound, just to evaluate that,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘We’re assuming he can make one of those spots, but [Monday] was not a good day. So he’s got another shot next [Wednesday]. Hopefully it will be a better result, so we can be more optimistic.’’
Keuchel was less than masterful, allowing what he called ‘‘an outrageous’’ 11 hits. But he seemed optimistic, citing less-than-hard contact on most of them.
‘‘Eight of 11 hits I gave up were 95 mph or less,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s not very good luck. That’s just the way it goes. I thought I was making some really quality pitches.’’
Keuchel, who has a 5.18 ERA in what he called a ‘‘frustrating season,’’ finished fifth in AL Cy Young voting with a 1.99 ERA in the abbreviated 2020 season. With Rodon and right-handers Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease outperforming him in 2021, Keuchel — the only soft-tosser in the bunch — has looked like the odd man out for the postseason, which requires four starters at the most.
But Rodon’s iffy condition has blurred the playoff picture.
‘‘I just have to hang with it,’’ Keuchel said. ‘‘It’s there. It’s just not showing as much as I would like it to.’’