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Back in December, Carlos Rodon didn’t have a job. Back in March, Carlos Rodon didn’t have a secure role.
Thursday morning, Carlos Rodon has baseball’s latest no-hitter. And he was one back-foot slider away from baseball’s 24th perfect game.
Rodon grabbed baseball’s stage Wednesday against Cleveland, mowing down the Tribe on 114 pitches and collecting seven strikeouts along the way. I could bore you with statistical minutia, but let’s focus on this — the guy was throwing harder in the late innings, and after the game, he talked about having his young daughter’s name on his glove.
Fantasy baseball is a game measured by numbers, but never forget, it’s a game played by people.
Rodon’s no-no is the second of the young season, just five days after Joe Musgrove rolled the Rangers. Surely this won’t be the last of 2021, not with a stable of fire-breathing pitchers on the mound. The current batting average in baseball (.235) would be the worst of all-time. Strikeouts smother the game like never before.
Rodon’s career arc should be review by now. Hot prospect, brief success, extended struggles, similarity to Sabotage video character, Tommy John surgery. Rodon scuffled in a brief stint last year (whatever 7.2 messy innings matters) and the White Sox initially didn’t want to bring him back. But the two sides eventually worked out a deal, giving the former phenom a shot to earn a 2021 role.
Perhaps the signal to Rodon’s breakout came in the spring, when he twirled 13.2 outstanding innings (9 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 16 K) and earned the rotation spot. For all the shiny new toys at our disposal, it’s funny how walks and strikeouts will commonly take you where you need to go. It’s the water of baseball statistics.
Rodon’s fantasy-add moment is just about gone, unless you’re in an especially-lax league. He’s been chased up to 70 percent. Remember, he was nearly as good in his first start, a win at Seattle. We’re talking about 14 wipeout innings now, from a TJ-fixed pitcher into his age-28 season. The breakout sign isn’t just flashing, the bulbs have burnt out. You know what to do.
Yimi Garcia grabs the Miami baton
Shortly before Rodon finished off Cleveland, Yimi Garcia took to the mound in Atlanta. The assignment was heavy — protect a one-run lead (with a ghost runner on second), pitch to Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman and Marzell Ozuna. Basically, walk through the fire with a gasoline suit on. (Acuna was already sitting on three hits, including two homers.)
Garcia needed just 12 pitches. Strikeout, flyout, strikeout. Eleven of his 12 power offerings hit the zone. This was a lawnmower.
When we think of Miami’s staff we quickly focus on the power arms in the rotation, but Garcia is making a case as the bullpen chief. He’s allowed a mere two hits and one run over his 7.1 innings, and he definitely has the raw stuff to miss bats. It’s last call in the mixed leagues, as Garcia currently rosters at 43 percent.
I’m a little surprised the market has been cool to Jazz Chisholm, Miami’s fun second baseman. Chisholm threw some music at the Braves, with a homer, a steal, another hit, a walk. The .259 average doesn’t grab you — though that’s actually an asset in today’s game — but note the category juice (two homers, three steals). He qualifies at both middle positions, and deserves a roster tag much higher than 26 percent.
Time to add Anthony DeSclafani
The Marlins head back to Miami for an extended homestand. Friday’s game is a classic for music lovers — Anthony DeSclafani starts for the Giants. Give the people what they want: Disco vs. Jazz.
DeSclafani had an up-and-down career in Cincinnati, but maybe the friendlier San Francisco park will agree with him. He threw five quality innings at San Diego, then stopped the Reds with six bagels last weekend. The control could be a little better — four walks in 11 innings — but Disco also has 12 strikeouts. A 1.27 WHIP doesn’t support an ERA below 1, of course, but work with me, okay? Most of us need back-end starters in our mixed leagues. There's plausible upside here, and that's when we act.
That 16-percent tag looks light. Some will start DeSclafani immediately, some will add-and-watch on spec, but either way, this is a story to follow.