Left-hander Carlos Rodon will make his much-anticipated 2017 debut tonight at Guaranteed Rate Field against the New York Yankees. Rodon was activated from the disabled list earlier this week after missing the entire season to this point with a biceps injury in his throwing arm. Veteran Masahiro Tanaka will take the ball for the Pinstripers.
Rodon will be looking to build off a very solid end to his 2016 campaign. He went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA in 28 starts on the year, but showed major flashes of starting to figure it out over the final few months of the season. In five starts last August, Rodon went 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA. He also struck out 21 combined over his final two outings of the year against the Twins and Indians.
There’s no telling what kind of pitch count the 24-year-old will be on in his first big league outing back. He struggled mightily in four rehab starts down in the minors. Rodon went 0-4 with an ERA well over 10 in those outings, so there’s a chance he’s battling a bit of rust right now. When he’s right, though, he can be electric. Walks have been a problem for him in the past, and he’ll need to be careful about that tonight against a patient New York lineup.
The Yanks have some mashers in the lineup, but they’ve also really struggled over the last few weeks. It’s also worth noting that New York goes from being an elite offense against right-handers to a middle-of-the-road unit against southpaws. With New York scuffling at the plate as a team right now, we think Rodon will enjoy a decent outing tonight. He may not go more than five innings, but run prevention shouldn’t be an issue.
On the other side we have Tanaka, who hasn’t been as bad as people may think this season. He’s gotten blown up in a few starts, which has gone a long way toward elevating his ERA. Tanaka absolutely dominated the Rangers in his last start, limiting them to just three hits over the course of eight scoreless innings while striking out nine. Tanaka has now whiffed a total of 27 batters over just his last three starts.
He’ll also have the luxury of facing a White Sox offense that has been one of the worst in all of baseball this season, especially against righties. Luis Severino dominated them to the tune of 12 strikeouts in last night’s game, and we expect Tanaka to be up in that 8-10 range once again here tonight. Tanaka may not shut them out like he did Texas, but we also don’t think he’s giving up more than three runs.
Both of these lineups have some pop, but we like the under on this game. Nine runs is too rich a total for a game featuring a pair of above-average starting pitchers going up against offenses that have hit the skids here lately.