Maybe Carlos Rodon is a bit more high, ahhh, ummm, profile than the usual pitching, ahhh, ummm, profile candidate I cover. After all, at points over the last few years this is a guy who’s been universally owned. Things have definitely been a different story in 2017, as he missed all of April and May, and most of June recovering from a biceps injury. Following two strong starts upon his return, we’ve seen “Bad Carlos” over the last three turns. The former third overall pick has been steady, but inconsistent throughout his first two seasons in the big leagues. Apt to spells of poor control and command, that typically led to some ugly pitching lines. Is that what’s happening here? Simply a case of “Bad Carlos”? Good or bad, something has obviously been amiss the past few starts, let’s take a look under the hood and see what’s going on. Are these problems fixable or is there a lingering injury? On Sunday Rodon faced the red hot Indians and my guess is you already know what happened. Here’s what I saw.
Scouting Report: Rodon’s arsenal consists of four offerings, a mid-90’s four-seamer, a low-90’s sinker, a mid-high 80’s slider, and a mid-low 80’s changeup. Far and away the best pitch of the four is his slider. The breaking ball has gotten whiffs at a 20% rate historically, and typically had batting averages against in the sub-Mendoza range. The pitch has some nice two-plane movement running in on righthanders. He will throw his slider to any part of the zone, but loves burying it armside under the hands of righties and lefties. His tendencies are to bury the pitch low in the zone to lefthanded batters while working up and in with the pitch to righties. His changeup has slight rise to it, and also generates a high amount of whiffs, checking in at the 13-15% range histrionically. Rodon’s four-seamer sits in the mid-90’s, and gets an above average amount of whiffs, and a majority of Rodon’s grounders come on this pitch, and his sinking fastball variation. He tends to work armside with the four-seamer, while preferring to work gloveside with the sinker.
Francisco Lindor – Fastball high and over the plate at 94 for strike 1, fastball inside at 91, strike 2, slider down and in at 85, swinging strike three.
Austin Jackson – High fastball at 93, ball, high fastball at 92, swinging strike 1, slider at 84 low and inside, ball 2, slider at 85 fouled back, strike 2, 96 MPH just off the plate, ball 3, 95 MPH on the outside part of the plate fouled off, fastball at 94 hit between the short stop and the second base for a hit.
Jose Ramirez – 84 MPH slider in the dirt, ball 1, 92 mph sinker at the bottom of the zone is popped up in foul territory for out number 2.
Edwin Encarnacion – Strike at 94 on the outside part of the plate, 92 MPH sinker inside, ball 1, 94 MPH sinker too low, ball 2, slider at 84 on the inside, ball 3, 94 MPH fastball high and inside at 94 for ball 4.
Carlos Santana – 82 MPH changeup high, ball 1, 84 MPH slider on the outside, strike 1, 84 MPH slider high in zone fouled back, strike 2, 95 MPH fastball high in the zone is popped up to 2nd for the third out.
An inning that could have gotten away from Rodon was held in check. He located his slider well, but was inconsistent with his fastball. Every time he threw his sinker it missed the zone. Still got Lindor swinging, and induced two pop-ups, without allowing any hard contact.
Brandon Guyer – Fastball at 94 high and inside, ball, sinker at 91 fouled off, strike, slider at 82 off the plate, ball 2, changeup at 82 high and outside, ball 3, high fastball ball 4, walk.
Giovanny Urshela – sinker at 92 skied to rightfield for the first out.
Roberto Perez – Fastball on the outisde, pitch out, and Guyer steals second, ball 1, 82 MPH changeup shows bunt, strike 1, 85 MPH slider buried in the dirt, ball 2, 92 MPH fastball high in the zone swinging strike 2, 93 MPH sinker on the inside, ball 3, full count, changeup at 84 is hit to third for the second out of the inning.
Bradley Zimmer – 88 MPH slider in the dirt, ball 1, 93 MPH sinker low and on the outer part of the plate fouled off, strike 1, 82 MPH changeup called a ball but painted the corner, bad call, 84 MPH slider on the outside of the plate, ball 3, 84 MPH slider on the outside swinging strike 2, full count, 96 MPH fastball down Main Street, and Zimmer just watches it for strike 3.
Rodon, has limited hard contact, but I wouldn’t say he’s overpowering anyone. He’s nibbling a ton, with his balls outside the zone being easy to pickup vs whats in the zone. Needs to start attacking hitters more with his fastball. He once again limited the damage this inning despite allowing the leadoff man to get into scoring position.
Francisco Lindor – 83 MPH changeup in the dirt, ball 1, fastball at 94 is a meatball, and Lindor makes him pay parking it in the left field bleachers.
Austin Jackson – 92 MPH fastball too high, ball 1, 91 MPH sinker way off the plate, ball 2, 93 MPH fastball is hit for a hard ground ball and it just misses the glove of a diving Moncada.
Jose Ramirez – 92 MPH fastball low and off the plate, strike 1, 84 MPH slider middle-in taken for a strike, 92 Fastball off the plate, ball 1, 92 MPH sinker in the dirt, ball 2, 93 MPH fastball hit to dead center for the first out.
Edwin Encarnacion – slider way inside, ball 1, 94 MPH sinker off the plate, ball 2, 92 MPH fastball hit on the ground to third, Tyler Saladino makes a great play to snag the ball fire to second to start the double play to end the inning.
Despite giving up the homer to Lindor this was by far the most efficient inning of his day for Rodon. Only needing 12 pitches to get out of the frame. I expected Lindor to be more overpowering than he’s been.
Carlos Santana – 82 MPH changeup low in the zone, ball 1, 94 MPH fastball high and outside part of the plate, strike 1, 82 MPH changeup way high, ball 2, changeup again at 83 paints the high armside corner for strike 2, buries the slider under the hands of Santana for a swinging strike 3.
Brandon Guyer – 79 MPH slider way off the plate, ball 1, 94 MPH middle-middle swinging strike 1, 87 MPH slider, strike 2, 96 MPH high and outside, ball 2, 96 MPH on the outside part of the dish is taken for strike 3.
Giovanny Urshela – 95 MPH fastball high and inside, strike 1, 85 MPH slider to the same spot on the inner part of the plate, strike 2, slider way off the plate, ball 1, 85 MPH change at the top of the zone fouled off, 85 MPH slider in on the hands is popped up to short for the third out.
Great inning by Rodon, he was locateing his fastball, slider, and change, getting ahead in counts and burying the slider under the hands of righties. Rodon is getting stronger as the game goes.
Roberto Perez – 91 MPH sinker bottom of the zone, ball 1, bad call, 92 MPH fastball on the inside, strike 1, 93 MPH fastball on the inside again taken for a questionable strike 2, 86 MPH in the dirt, ball 2, 96 MPH fastball on the top of the zone fouled back, 97 MPH fastball down Main Street for a swinging strike 3.
Bradley Zimmer – 96 MPH off the plate to the gloveside, swinging strike 1, 88 MPH slider way off the plate, ball 1, 86 MPH slider high and on the outside part of the plate, strike 2, 96 MPH fastball on the inside and Zimmer jumps back, ball 2, fastball on the inner-half at 97 MPH and Zimmer swings and misses, for a swinging strike 3.
Francisco Lindor – Fastball called a strike over the outisde of the plate at 96 MPH, bad call, slider at 86 buried under the hands, swinging strike 2, 98 MPH fastball on the outerhalf is slapped at for a weak bouncer to Rodon who tosses to first to end the inning.
Since allowing the homer and single to Lindor and Jackson to open the third Rodon has been locked in. Going after every hitter and locating his fastball all over the zone. His velocity ticked up to 96-97 with his four-seamer the last two innings. This kid is a horse when he’s on.
Austin Jackson – Fastball is hit for a flyball for out number one.
Jose Ramirez – slider in the middle of the zone and Ramirez catches it with the end of the bat and puts to the left field corner for a double.
Edwin Encarnacion – 94 MPH fastball on the inner-half, strike 1, 93 MPH fastball on the inside, same spot, strike 2, slider in the dirt on the inside, ball 1, 86 MPH slider on the inside, breaks Encarnacion’s bat on a foul ball, slider under the hands gets a swinging strike 3 as Ramirez heads to third.
Carlos Santana – 85 MPH changeup high in the zone, strike 1, 97 MPH fastball low in the zone fouled off, strike 2, 97 MPH fastball way off the plate, ball 1, 85 MPH slider is grounded to third, and Saladino throws to first for the final out of the inning.
Rodon continued to cruise despite the Ramirez double. The fastball-slider combo is working right now and his fastball command, movement, and velocity have all improved as the game has gone on.
Brandon Guyer – 82 MPH changeup high and on the inner-half, strike 1, fastball at 94 in on the hands fouled off for strike 2, 96 MPH off the plate, ball 1, 96 MPH fastball in on the hands swinging strike 3.
Giovanny Urshela – 85 MPH slider paints the inside corner but it’s called a ball, fastball at 94 is fouled off, strike 1, slider at 85 fouled off to left field, 95 MPH fastball up in zone also fouled off, slider at 87 high in the zone fouled off, 97 MPH fastball is hit for dribbler by Tim Anderson for a hit.
Roberto Perez – Fastball at 94 on the outer-half, strike 1, 95 MPH on the inside, strike 2, 97 MPH fastball up and in, ball 1, 85 MPH slider on the inner-corner and he freezes Perez with the slider.
Bradley Zimmer – 96 MPH fastball high and inside to Zimmer for a swinging strike 1, slider off the plate at 85 is fouled off, 97 MPH fastball low in the zone and it’s hit to left for a base hit.
Final Line: 6.2 IP, 6 Hits, 2 Walks, 1 Run, 1 Home Run, 9 K’s, 13 Swinging Strikes, 110 Pitches, 69 Strikes
Summary: Rodon was like a different pitcher after the first two batters of the 3rd inning. The fastball command all of a sudden was locked in, and he even added a couple of ticks on the velo. The slider is a legit weapon particularly to righties under the hands. If Rodon gets ahead in counts, like most starters, he’s a very uncomfortable at bat. If he could waste less pitches on 2 strike fastballs way off the plate to the gloveside, he’d get into the 7th almost habitually. His slider was as good as advertised, a true whip-out pitch, that he locates well, consistently painting the zone. The change was okay, had some nice movement, but is pretty far behind the slider and fastball. His success started to tick up once he went away from the sinker, which didn’t seem to do much for him, other than miss the zone. All in all Rodon looked very good, let’s hope he’s finally shaken off the rust of missing spring training and a majority of the first three months. I’d start Rodon at home, and in plush matchups, might be primed for one of his famous second half runs.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto)
Disabled List (Ranking When Active): Clayton Kershaw, LAD (3), Noah Syndergaard, NYM (8), Stephen Strasburg, WAS (9), Robbie Ray, ARI (12), David Price, BOS (24), Johnny Cueto, SF (28), Chase Anderson, MIL (29), Brandon McCarthy, LAD (42), Matt Shoemaker, LAA (54), Adam Wainwright, STL (63), Aaron Sanchez, TOR (66) Matt Andriese, TB (68), Jake Odorizzi, TB (69), Scott Feldman, CIN (84), Matt Harvey, NYM (99) Brandon Finnegan, CIN (100)
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