OPINION: Renteria’s Rodon Experiment Shouldn’t Be Taken Lightly
Ricky Renteria’s bullpen decision-making in the series finale against Cleveland further exasperated concerns about his ability to effectively manage a competitive White Sox team.
Before we get started here, I just want to throw put out a forewarning. There is going to be some armchair managing to come and I don’t want anyone to act like they didn’t do the same thing last night. It all revolves around Chicago White Sox manager Ricky Renteria’s call to the bullpen in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians.
Let me repaint the picture for you: the White Sox had just taken a 4-1 lead at Progressive Field in the top of the seventh inning after Dallas Keuchel put together another excellent performance. In the bottom half of the frame, Jimmy Cordero entered the game and faced three pinch-hitters in a row. All of them reached safely on balls that, let’s be honest, weren’t hit very hard. Cordero then recorded two outs, one on a groundball to third that Yoan Moncada came home with for the force out, and the second a lazy fly ball into short left field. So, again, bases loaded, two outs.
On the same day that the club activated both Carlos Rodon and Aaron Bummer from the injured list, Renteria decided to bring in Rodon for Cordero. In his first relief appearance since 2015 and his first game since August 3rd, Rodon gave up a two-RBI single to Cesar Hernandez and a go-ahead double to Jose Ramirez. The Sox went on to lose their fifth in a row and drop to a full game behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central standings.
Let me be clear, I understand that Renteria wanted to get Rodon some work before the playoffs, and I don’t even have a problem bringing him in for the seventh, but I do have an issue with him coming into a bases-loaded scenario. Additionally, Hernandez was having a good game at the plate against another lefty, so why not keep Cordero in to face him? Or bring in another right-hander? Hell, if you don’t care about handedness and just want a shutdown guy, how about Aaron Bummer? I know Rodon said that he’s the one who threw the ball, and any of the guys in the pen would have wanted to be in that situation, but this should have been treated like a playoff game and a guy who isn’t built for that type of situation shouldn’t have been thrown into the fire.
There are fans out there on White Sox Twitter and even some MLB writers who brought up the point that at least now the team knows that Rodon isn’t the guy for that situation, nor is Gio Gonzalez supposed to pitch in the ninth. My problem is, you can’t tell me that testing these guys, who have made their careers on being starters, in a playoff-like game where every day is meaningful in a division race.
If Renteria wanted to test this out with Gonzalez at the beginning or even in the middle of the season, go for it. The Rodon situation is actually more frustrating. Just bring him in for the beginning of the seventh so he can at least throw from the windup with a clean slate. To me, it was a baffling move and the entire team paid for it by getting swept by the Tribe. Surely, it was a quiet trip back to Chicago, unless Keuchel got fired up again, which wouldn’t surprise me after that horrible performance on the road.
Buckle up for the Crosstown Classic by tuning in to the Sox On Tap Podcast on your favorite listening platform. These final three games are not only for the division, but for playoff seeding as well. Here’s to hoping this team turns it around at home.