In Carlos Rodón, White Sox have another Cy Young type in rotation

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It's time to start talking about Rodón's Cy Young candidacy originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Some helpful advice for national media brands: Don't leave out the Chicago White Sox, or the fans will be none too pleased.

Whether ESPN's graphics department or the puzzlers over at "Wheel of Fortune," not including the White Sox has been an all too frequent recipe for a social-media firestorm on the South Side.

Of course, White Sox fans tend to enjoy the chip on their shoulder of supporting the Chicago baseball team that has to earn nationwide attention. They like it even better when the response is immediate.

RELATED: TA assures Sox players, La Russa 'getting along just fine'

Who knows if Carlos Rodón saw MLB's tweet promoting the five top Cy Young candidates in the American League on Friday, a list that didn't include the White Sox lefty.

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Inspired or not, he went out and dominated the New York Yankees in the first of a three-game series, allowing just two hits, walking none and striking out a career-high 13 across six scoreless innings.

If only Twitter had an edit button.

The White Sox tried to provide some assistance.

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Social-media fun and games aside, the truth is that Rodón is an early season Cy Young candidate, a surprising turn of events from a few months back, when it was unknown whether he'd even land in the White Sox rotation. After dealing with years of horrendous injury luck, the left-hander was non-tendered in December, re-signed to a one-year deal and came to camp looking to beat out Reynaldo López for the last spot on the starting staff.

Thanks to his work with new pitching coach Ethan Katz, Rodón had a brilliant spring and ran away with the job. And he's carried it into the regular season. The guy threw a no-hitter — the second of a whopping six so far this year — but one night does not a Cy Young candidacy make, and it's been the consistent excellence that has defined Rodón's 2021 and made him a reliable pitching presence for a team with World Series aspirations.

"Carlos being a high draft pick and stuff, we kind of saw the potential right out of college from him. Injuries and a couple other things kind of held him back a little bit, but some people just take time to figure it out," White Sox catcher Zack Collins said Saturday. "And this year, he came into camp ready to go and earned his spot in the rotation and has shown everything that we've been waiting for up until this point.

"It's a long season, and hopefully we can keep him healthy and continue throwing the way he is."

Certainly, Rodón has the kinds of numbers that Cy Young voters like. After Friday's sterling effort, he owns a 1.27 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 42.2 innings of work. He's walked just 12 batters all year and, most importantly, stayed healthy.

Interestingly — and this could explain why he wasn't part of that MLB graphic — Rodón has not thrown enough innings to qualify to be among the league leaders.

If he stays healthy all season, it shouldn't be a problem for him to reach that mark. But right now, with the White Sox noticing the benefits of extra rest for the left-hander, he's not the AL ERA leader, even though he's got a lower mark than Baltimore Orioles pitcher and fellow no-hitter-thrower John Means. His 13.1 K/9 should rank third in the AL behind only elite pitchers Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, and Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Instead, Rodón technically doesn't even lead his own team, Lucas Giolito appearing on the rankings because of the amount of innings he's thrown.

Still, none of that should take anything away from what Rodón's accomplished. At this point in the season, there's no reason why he shouldn't be talked about as a Cy Young candidate.

Just ask a Cy Young winner.

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To borrow one of Tony La Russa's oft-used phrases, we don't have a crystal ball, so we don't know what the remaining four months of the season hold for Rodón, if he will join the ranks of guys like Stone, Carlton, Guidry, Bieber or even teammate and "good friend" Dallas Keuchel, or if he will fall out of the Cy Young conversation entirely.

But through the first two months of the season, Rodón has added another Cy Young caliber arm to a White Sox rotation that started the season with three of them in Giolito, Keuchel and Lance Lynn, who all finished in the top seven in the AL Cy Young vote last year.

The biggest question mark for this White Sox team before the season began was what Rodón and Dylan Cease could do behind the top three in the rotation. So far, so good. And the rotation is deeper and looking capable of playoff greatness because of it. The White Sox will need more than three arms if they want to win multiple postseason series. Rodón is giving them a chance to do just that.

"It's extremely exciting," Collins said. "Every guy that comes out of our 'pen or starts the game for us has thrown incredible this year. Everybody's given us a chance to win. When we score a lot of runs, we've pretty much won every single one of those games.

"For me, it makes it a lot easier when you've got guys throwing 98 with a nasty slider like Carlos was yesterday, throwing three pitches for strikes. What else could you ask for? Looking to carry that through the whole season and, honestly, into October. That would be awesome."

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