Other than Dexter Fowler standing and watching Kyle Schwarber’s first home run in Cincinnati Tuesday night – the very definition of a “moonshot” that tied the game before Schwarber won it with another bomb four innings later – only one thought prevailed in trying to summarize the Cub rookie’s breakout night.
A few hours away in Chicago, White Sox rookie Carlos Rodon had the fun task of facing the machine that is the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. And for the guy picked one spot ahead of Schwarber in last June’s 2014 MLB Draft, things couldn’t have gone more differently.
Rodon managed to strike out six Cardinals in just four innings, but he also put on 10 baserunners – and a grand slam from Matt Holliday ended his night after four innings. It was the third time he failed to get past the fourth since joining the White Sox rotation on May 9th, primarily because he has an absurd 44 walks in those 12 starts.
The point isn’t that Carlos Rodon can’t consistently locate a pitch to save his life yet. It’s that the White Sox have a rookie figuring shit out on the fly in an otherwise solid rotation (especially when Jeff Samardzija pitches at home) while they sit dead last in basically every offensive category.
As we noted before the All-Star break, an expensive offseason plan has backfired on the south side thanks to the organization’s nearly nonexistent presence of homegrown, impact bats.
Meanwhile on the north side, the Cubs’ last two first-round picks – Kris Bryant and Schwarber – are helping prove that it’s more effective to ‘fast track’ young hitters to the major leagues than doing so with pitchers.
Of course, that strategy worked for the White Sox better than anyone in 2010 with Chris Sale, who was in the Chicago bullpen less than two months after signing with the Sox. The problem is, there aren’t very many pitchers alive like Chris Sale.
And even Sale had to wait to join the White Sox rotation – racking up 79 relief appearances in 2010/2011 before his first start in 2012. Flash forward three years, and it appears the Sox have skipped that step of the process with Rodon. Why?
Honestly, in all likelihood, Carlos Rodon is going to be a damn good major league pitcher. And he’s certainly good enough to be in the White Sox rotation right now.
But, as his inflated walk count will tell you, he’s not really ready. Instead, he could be honing his command in AAA or at the very least contributing out of the White Sox bullpen – which has been pretty mediocre besides David Robertson.
Besides the 28-year-old Jose Abreu, the closest things to a ‘young impact bat’ on the roster are Adam Eaton (26) and Avisail Garcia (24). Both solid players, but not exactly franchise cornerstones. Same goes for recent call-up Tyler Saladino (26).
So let’s flashback to last year’s draft, and say the White Sox draft Kyle Schwarber. Instead of rushing the talented Rodon to provide any kind of “young reinforcement” spark – where his contribution to a solid staff is minimal – Schwarber is a massive boost to the middling White Sox lineup, (catcher or DH, who gives a shit) giving Abreu legitimate protection and moving LaRoche and Garcia to their more appropriate 5/6 spots in the order.
Not to mention the intangible benefit of having an exciting young hitter for the fanbase to watch every day.
Needless to say, that’s an optimistic outlook, but you get the point. The boring-as-hell Chicago White Sox don’t need another young lefty in their rotation. They need to catch up to the rest of the league and realize that the quickest way to rebuild a franchise is through offensive talent.
Obviously, it didn’t have to be Kyle Schwarber. But the irony of Schwarber’s career night coinciding with another developmental Rodon start – when they were drafted back-to-back by teams that are less than 10 miles from each other – served as a sharp reminder of what could have been.