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Fantasy Baseball: Carlos Rodon has 2017 breakout potential

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The White Sox lost their ace when they dealt Chris Sale to land MLB’s top prospect in Yoan Moncada. They are in full rebuild mode now and need an ace to replace Sale. While that is likely to be Jose Quintana, who is an ace in everything but win/loss record, Carlos Rodon has a chance to vault to those ranks, as well. The White Sox think so, too, as they are already easing Rodon into Spring Training. The Sox want to fully stretch out Rodon this Spring Training so that they can give him plenty of runs. The 24-year-old hurler has thrown just one full season in the majors (last year), and the ChiSox are ramping him up to chew up 200 innings. He’s a great late fantasy baseball option for you this draft season.

Rodon’s peripherals last year belied his final 4.04 ERA. Oddly enough, his FIP and xFIP indicate he “earned” every bit of that ERA, but Rodon’s final 2016 advanced stats contain other signs of hope. He struck out more than a batter an inning (9.16 K/9). If he pitches 200 innings in 2017, that’ll notch him 180 strikeouts. There are also two bad luck factors that should regress and get Rodon a better 2017 campaign. Rodon’s BABIP was an elevated .330 for the season, and his HR/FB was elevated as well. This bad luck led to more batters getting on base, and more balls clearing the fence. His HR/FB was at almost 14%, which is unsustainably high for the clear majority of pitchers.

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Rodon’s 2016 second half showed hardly anything but luck regression and better control. After posting a 4.50 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP, Rodon’s BABIP and HR/9 regressed to the mean. His strikeouts & walks got under control, which meant fewer baserunners. That transformed his ERA & WHIP to 3.45 and 1.22, respectively. His K-BB% (as previously noted, an indicator of a breakout) put him among the best, at 18%.

Rodon’s second half is easily dismissed as a hot streak. Rodon has a sub-4.00 ERA in three of the four “halves” he’s pitched in his career, and his 2016 first half is the outlier. According to FantasyPros ADP, Rodon currently sits at SP49, as the 183rd draftee. He, likely everyone else in his range, has a lot of issues but a lot of upsides. He’s no exception, and if you can get him even later than that as your fifth or sixth fantasy baseball pitcher, you’ll sing Rodon’s praises. Unfortunately, likely his teammate Jose Quintana, wins will evade Rodon, but the talent will shine through.

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