The White Sox announced Wednesday that they’ve placed lefty Carlos Rodon on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Aug. 8, due to left shoulder fatigue. Right-hander Matt Foster is up from Triple-A Charlotte to take his spot on the active roster. Chicago also announced that catcher Yasmani Grandal, who’s been out since early July after undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his knee, will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Birmingham.
Rodon, 28, had been lined up to start tomorrow’s Field of Dreams game against the Yankees, but that start will now instead go to righty Lance Lynn. The South Siders haven’t provided a firm timeline for Rodon’s recovery, but manager Tony La Russa tells reporters he expects it to be longer than a minimum stint on the IL (Twitter link via ESPN 1000’s Connor McKnight). Notably, Rodon has a history of shoulder troubles. He underwent shoulder surgery back in 2017 and missed most of the 2020 campaign with shoulder pain as well.
The ChiSox have had the American League Central more or less wrapped up for quite some time now, so there’s little sense in rushing Rodon back. His absence won’t seriously hinder the team’s commanding 10.5-game lead in the Central, and the team’s focus is surely on making sure he’s at full strength to close out the regular season and play a pivotal role in the postseason rotation.
Rodon serving as a key to the Sox’ postseason starting staff would’ve seemed far-fetched, to say the least, not long ago. The White Sox non-tendered Rodon last December after a pair of injury-ruined seasons in 2019-20 that saw Rodon combine for a grisly 5.74 ERA in 42 1/3 frames.
That non-tender looked to end Rodon’s time with the Sox, but just shy of two months later, he returned on a one-year, $3MM deal. It wasn’t the most well-received signing in recent memory among White Sox fans, but Rodon has proved any naysayers wrong by not only rebounding to previous levels but instead rising to new heights entirely, as recently explored by MLBTR’s Anthony Franco.
The 2021 version of Rodon has been the overpowering ace that the Sox perhaps hoped he’d eventually become when selecting him with the No. 3 overall draft pick back in 2014. Through 19 starts this season, Rodon has pitched 109 2/3 innings of 2.38 ERA ball while fanning an outstanding 36.2 percent of his opponents against a very tidy 6.8 percent walk rate. He’s bumped his average fastball velocity to a career-high 95.8 mph, fanned 10 or more hitters on five occasions and thrown a no-hitter that was very nearly a perfect game.
Along the way, Rodon has cemented himself as one of the team’s frontline starters, joining the aforementioned Lynn among the league’s more dominant hurlers. Rodon’s ERA is sixth-best among pitchers with at least 100 innings thrown — Lynn leads the way at 2.04 — and no pitcher in baseball has whiffed a higher percentage of his opponents (again, min. 100 innings pitched).
The injury shouldn’t impact the White Sox’ chances of reaching the postseason. However, Rodon himself would be best-served with a quick return to full strength, as he’s set to return to the free-agent market this winter. The dominance he’s shown to date should already position him for a hefty multi-year contract, but a lengthy absence may give teams some pause — particularly given the deep free-agent class and the number of alternative options on the market. He’ll already be viewed much differently than when the Sox cut him loose back in December, but a quick return and healthy finish would make for an even more bullish outlook.