The move won’t be without its complications, though, as the 22-year-old still will not be permitted to simply start every fifth game like the four other members of the rotation. The White Sox still want to control the youngster’s innings load as best as they can.
“Although we have mapped out through the All-Star break what the plan tentatively will be, we are going to remain flexible and may have to make some alterations,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “There will be periods of breaks for him in this process. We’re going to do it this way for a couple of reasons.”
First and foremost, the White Sox want Rodon to remain strong through the entire season. His career high in innings is the 132 1/3 he threw as a sophomore in 2013 at NC State, plus a handful more with USA Baseball that summer.
Secondly, the White Sox are considering Rodon’s long-term health by growing his yearly innings output gradually.
“There is going to be scheduled periods of breaks, there will be times when he is skipped, there will be times when he has more than the regular four or five days off,” Hahn said. “But the process of transitioning him into a starter will begin Friday in Oakland.”
The move will push Hector Noesi from the rotation, although the right-hander is not done as a starter. Noesi will remain a long man out of the bullpen and figures to grab a start on occasion when Rodon needs a breather.
Rodon is understanding to the process.
“In my first full season in pro ball, you have to manage innings,” he said. “I’m kind of not used to that kind of workload. The most I’ve thrown is 130 or 150 innings. It gets up to 190 or 200 pretty easily [in the major leagues].”
Asked if Rodon would be limited to somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 innings, Hahn claimed the team doesn’t have a firm number in mind.
“No team, I think, would be that arrogant to say they know exactly what a pitcher’s breaking point is in terms of effectiveness or health risk,” Hahn said. “This is a process we have been through before. We had Chris Sale go from 70-some-odd innings in the bullpen one year to over 190 the next year, but a 120-inning jump is not what is going to work for every guy.
“Each guy is an individual and we are going to monitor Carlos’ stuff and health and effectiveness and what Carlos is reporting as we go through this process.”
In four appearances with the White Sox this season, Rodon is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA over 12 1/3 innings. He also threw 10 innings to start the season at Triple-A Charlotte.
His lone victory came last Saturday, in his only start, when he gave up two runs on four hits over six innings against the Cincinnati Reds. Rodon struck out eight, but had four walks in that game while throwing 108 pitches.
“I didn’t expect anything, just to go along with what they put in front of me and take it day by day,” Rodon said. “At the end, we will evaluate how many innings I throw. And whatever it is, we’ll manage to it.”