San Francisco Giants: Carlos Rodón, the All-Star

When the Giants announced the signing of Carlos Rodón in March their fanbase celebrated in unison. Joyous arms were raised above heads across the land simultaneously. This was the sort of marquee purchase the club should be making on a regular basis, was the general feeling shared among Giants fans. For two years and $44 million, including an opt-out after the first season, Rodón’s addition to the ballclub was considered to be a win-win deal for all involved.

As we near the All-Star break, the first-half results have been nothing short of spectacular. Rodón has been as advertised, the embodiment of the fire-hurling ace we hoped to see.

At the time of writing Rodón sports a 2.70 ERA over 17 starts and 100 innings of work. The veteran left-hander has 124 strikeouts during that time, good enough for an 11.16 K/9 rate that puts him fifth-best in MLB, and second behind only Corbin Burnes in the National League. His FIP is an NL-leading 2.14 and he’s minimised the long-ball to great effect, surrendering just four home runs.

Any preseason doubts about Rodón’s health and fastball velocity have been put firmly behind him, and was epitomised best in his recent domination of the San Diego Padres on 10 July.

Rodón pitched a masterful complete game, going the distance for the first time since his 2021 no-hitter with the White Sox in April of last year. Over nine innings Rodón scattered just three hits and a walk, for a single earned run, and racked up 12 strikeouts in the Giants 3-1 victory. The hometown Padres could not live with his fastball, which got stronger as each inning progressed. Catcher Jorge Alfaro struck out to end the game on three fastballs, with the final pitch clocking in at an astounding 99.1 mph. It was a straight-up challenge pitch, Rodón daring Alfaro to try and make contact, any contact at all. 

The final punchout saw Rodón roar off the mound in celebration, with a hop and a skip to accompany his release of emotion. According to ESPN Rodón racked up 27 swings and misses, the most by a Giants pitcher in a game since Tim Lincecum’s famous 2013 no-hitter (29 swings and misses), which was, interestingly enough, also against the Padres.

It was easily the best pitching performance of the Giants’ season, and the exclamation point on a fantastic first-half for Rodón. Shortly after, most of us expected to see his name included on the All-Star roster for the National League.

And yet, somehow, Rodón’s name was conspicuously absent.

Thankfully any disappointment at this bizarre omission proved to be short-lived: Rodón was soon selected to his second career All-Star appearance after Brewers reliever Josh Hader bowed out, and he’ll join teammate Joc Pederson in Los Angeles when the All-Star festivities begin next week. The Giants will probably hope Rodón doesn’t feature in the game itself, to save the pitcher any wear and tear on his precious arm, but the selection is deserved validation for the terrific year Rodón has enjoyed in San Francisco so far.

Which raises an interesting question: will Rodón finish out the year as a Giants pitcher?

Over the past month the team has dropped from the heights of postseason contention into a battle to keep their heads above the .500 mark. The club have begun to show recent signs of a possible recovery but if the Giants slip further behind the pack in the chase for a wild card berth, would the team consider becoming sellers at the impending 2 August trade deadline? 

If so, Rodón suddenly becomes an available asset that could command a haul of young talent that would revitalise a roster currently possessed by an older, increasingly slower and injury-prone roster. Should Rodón be shopped on the market, he would become the best pitcher available. The Giants could request a king’s ransom, even if it would be a sad acceptance that the 2022 season is effectively over from a competitive standpoint.

From a fan perspective, I’d really hate to see Rodón’s stay in San Francisco come to a premature end. The Giants’ results over the next couple of weeks will ultimately determine Rodón’s future with the team. Rival clubs will be salivating at each Giants loss this month, knowing Rodón could fall into their grubby hands if Gabe Kapler’s men can’t put enough wins together to keep the Giants in the race. 

Whatever the future holds for Rodón and the Giants, there’s no doubt he’s been exactly what the team wanted, an All-Star in every sense of the word.

Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @AshDay29

Photo credit for featured image by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images.

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