Can Carlos Rodon be the ace of the White Sox rotation of the future? He sure looked like it against Cardinals

Vinnie Duber
NBC Sports Chicago
<p>Carlos Rodon pitched perhaps his best game in a White Sox uniform Wednesday, conjuring mental images of him leading the team's rotation of the future.</p>

Can Carlos Rodon be the ace of the White Sox rotation of the future? He sure looked like it against Cardinals

Carlos Rodon pitched perhaps his best game in a White Sox uniform Wednesday, conjuring mental images of him leading the team's rotation of the future.

The White Sox rotation of the future is a mighty crowded one. But if Carlos Rodon keeps pitching like he did Wednesday, he'll definitely have a spot on that starting staff.

Heck, if he keeps pitching like he did Wednesday, he'll be the ace of that staff.

Rodon had arguably his best outing in a White Sox uniform in a win over the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched 7.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits and two walks and striking out seven batters. He was objectively excellent, having the kind of performance that was hoped for when the White Sox pick him with the No. 3 selection in the 2014 draft.

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It was also the kind of performance that reminded onlookers that Rodon is still very much in the mix to be one of the featured arms in that rotation of the future.

Rodon's status as a pre-rebuild acquisition and the subsequent additions of Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen and Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning and Dylan Cease to this organization made it easy to forget about Rodon - all that plus his back-to-back lengthy stays on the disabled list to open the last two seasons. He carried those questions about his health into the 2018 campaign, and until he strings together a full season, they'll linger.

And then there's the questions about consistency, which follow every player who isn't playing at an All-Star level. Rodon has shown flashes of brilliance in the past, and he's struggled mightily at times, too. In order to achieve that "ace" status, he'll need to make outings like Wednesday's a more regular occurrence.

Rodon is in the process of trying to do just that.

"Some guys just show up and they're just great. Sale, Kershaw, Scherzer, guys like that," Rodon said. "Some other guys, it's a grind. It's going to be up and down. You're going to have some good days, you're going to have some bad days. You're going to take some lumps, you're going to give some lumps.

"You've got to learn through adversity. There's going to be some tough outings. I've had numerous tough outings, you guys have watched them. I think a couple years ago I pitched against this (Cardinals) team, a little different, and I didn't even get out of the first inning.

"There's days like that, and there's days like today where you've got all your stuff and it goes well."

This season alone has seen Rodon searching for that consistency. In a start last month against the Oakland Athletics, he was terrific, with just two runs allowed over eight innings. The following start, he gave up five runs. Last time out against the Houston Astros, he only allowed two runs but also walked six guys. And then Wednesday he was darn-near unhittable.

Rodon is still a young pitcher, not to mention a guy who's only made seven starts this season. But just like he's done in the past, when the flashes of brilliance are there, he conjures mental images of what he could look like leading the rotation of the future when the White Sox shift from rebuilders to contenders.

"You can put him in a better-than-average class, a top tier, 1-2-3 pitcher, championship-type caliber competitor," manager Rick Renteria said when asked what happens if Rodon pitches like this on a consistent basis. "It opens up the door to us potentially having quite a few guys in the rotation here in the near future that are able to give you what you need in order to be able to compete."

Whether or not Rodon can develop into an ace is good food for thought in the dog days of this rebuilding effort. But one of Rodon's teammates thinks he's already there.

"He is already an ace," catcher Omar Narvaez said. "Every time he comes down, he is an ace."

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