Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Will Carlos Rodon Ever Live Up To The Hype Once Bestowed Upon Him?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We’ve long heard about the hype of the White Sox’ Carlos Rodon, though for a variety of reasons he’s fallen far short of expectations.  While injuries have played a significant role in his “demise”, his performance hasn’t backed up what we heard as he progressed either.  Just look at what he did when on the mound in 2018:

120.2 IP
6 Wins
4.18 ERA
1.26 WHIP
90 Strikeouts (6.71 K/9)
55 Walks (4.10 BB/9)
41.5% Groundball Rate
.242 BABIP

There are a lot of concerns in the numbers, especially with his strikeouts falling off a cliff.  Is there enough upside for the southpaw to improve in that regard to make him viable?  Even if he does, is there anything to buy into?  Let’s take a look:

In terms of his strikeouts, he owns a career 8.61 K/9 so what happened?  You can actually argue that he never showed that type of upside in the Majors.  While his O-Swing% and SwStr% both dropped, both were relatively minor:

  • O-Swing% – 27.6% in ’18 vs. 28.4% for his career
  • SwStr% – 9.0% in ’18 vs. 9.9% for his career

His Whiff% did fall for all of his pitches, but again not enough to warrant a drop-off of 2+ strikeouts per nine innings.  At the end of the day, barring a change the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle as opposed to a strikeout per inning pitcher.  He would need to be really strong in his other skills then to get us excited…

And that’s the problem.  Rodon has never shown strong control, with a 3.84 career BB/9.  Even that is slightly skewed by his 2.95 mark back in 2016, as that’s the only time he’s been below a 4.00 mark.  Given the O-Swing% is anyone buying that type of strong mark?  Maybe injuries have played a role, as the constant starts and stops have likely caused an issue, but that’s not enough.

Rodon also lacks an elite groundball rate, with a career 44.2% groundball rate leading to a 1.11 HR/9.  While you can call last year’s mark as a bit of an aberration, with 6 of his 15 HR allowed coming to left-handed hitters (he’s only allowed 10 HR to left-handed hitters over the course of his career).  Maybe that gives a little bit of help, but he pitches in a hitter friendly ballpark and he’s going to consistently have some issues.

While it would be easy to point towards his WHIP last season as a selling point, he obviously benefited from some luck given the BABIP (even with a 30.9% Hard% we’d expect a regression).  Now let’s summarize the outlook:

  • Strikeouts – He appears to be mediocre, with the likelihood of a K/9 in the 7.50-8.00 range
  • Control – He is below average, with a 4.00 BB/9 likely
  • Groundballs – He’s pedestrian, with the potential to struggle with home runs

Where are we hanging our hat now?  The skills just don’t appear to be there.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections:

Date Posted
Dylan Bundy10/22/18
Foltynewicz, Mike10/09/18
Gibson, Kyle10/29/18
Hoskins, Rhys10/16/18
Hosmer, Eric11/05/18
Wheeler, Zack10/02/18

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