White Sox must win for Carlos Rodón to give what he can give

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Sox must win Game 3 to get what they can from Carlos Rodón originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Tony La Russa and the Chicago White Sox are going with Dylan Cease with their season on the line.

It's not a bad call, certainly, and Cease has earned the chance to make the start in Game 3 of the American League Division Series after a strong campaign.

But Carlos Rodón, who pitched like a Cy Young winner when he was on the mound, will have to wait for his chance to throw in the postseason.

RELATED: How Sox will attempt to avoid elimination in ALDS Game 3

Of course, Rodón has been the subject of near daily questions posed to La Russa for weeks now, as the All Star's persistently sore left shoulder has made what he can give the White Sox this month a complete mystery. The lefty was included on the team's ALDS roster, at least proving there was a chance he could take to the mound in this series against the Houston Astros, a team he pitched extraordinarily well against twice earlier in 2021.

La Russa said that Cease being able to give the White Sox length in Game 3, as well as Rodón's health status, factored into the team's decision to start Cease in Game 3.

"There's more certainty (with Cease)," La Russa said. "But we have some optimism about, if we get a win tomorrow, maybe (Rodón will) be the pitcher for Game 4."

For Rodón's part, he's feeling capable.

"It was a kind of a thing where (they would put me on the roster) if I felt good enough to pitch. Obviously, I do feel good enough to pitch," Rodón said Saturday. "If I did, I was going to be on the roster. I totally understand the other aspect. (if) you've got a guy who can't perform, then obviously you need someone who can perform. So it makes sense (to leave me off in that scenario). Fortunately, I feel good enough to go out there and throw the ball.

"I mean, I would love (the opportunity to pitch in this series), obviously. Tomorrow is the most important thing. It's a must win."

If Rodón gets that opportunity, it's still unknown for how long he'd take the ball. La Russa outlined before the playoffs began that the White Sox would take whatever Rodón could give, no matter how few innings that meant. Pitching coach Ethan Katz echoed that sentiment Thursday before Game 1.

"Whatever he can give, when Carlos is on the mound, good things have happened for us this year. So we'll take anything," Katz said. "We'll take five outs. We'll take five innings. Whatever he's able to do is a huge bonus for us."

And so with La Russa deploying one reliever after another in Friday's Game 2 loss, with none of them being Michael Kopech, it brought to mind the speculative idea that the White Sox might prefer to pitch Rodón and Kopech in the same game, with Kopech able to provide multiple innings and bridge the gap from a potentially short Rodón start to the back of the bullpen.

But with the season on the line, it's quite possible Kopech could be called on in Sunday's Game 3.

That's also something to think about. Should the White Sox keep their season alive with a Game 3 win but do so with Kopech logging multiple innings, what might that mean for a potential Rodón start in Game 4?

But undoubtedly, the chief concern for the White Sox is how Rodón is feeling, if he's physically capable of pitching. If he is, the White Sox will get a potentially strong playoff weapon, a guy who in two starts against the Astros during the regular season held one of baseball's best offenses to one run and just four hits in 14 innings of work.

No wonder the White Sox will take what they can get out of the left-hander.

Now they just have to see if they get a chance to use him.

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