In a rotation headlined by Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn and Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Rodón might not have been the leading candidate to throw a no-hitter for the White Sox in 2021. But on Wednesday night in Chicago, the left-hander did just that, coming within one ninth-inning hit-by-pitch of a perfect game in the White Sox 8-0 win over the Indians.
At one point, this sort of performance was expected from Rodón, a celebrated collegiate star whom the White Sox selected third overall in the 2014 Draft. But despite making it to the Majors by the following April, Rodón’s MLB career hadn’t quite taken off in the way many projected.
Entering Wednesday, Rodón had a 4.10 career ERA in 98 career games (93 starts), with no shutouts and only one complete game — which came back in his rookie year. Even that was an eight-inning performance in a loss, meaning Rodón had never recorded an out in the ninth inning.
Non-tendered and then re-signed to a one-year deal by the White Sox this past offseason, the injury-plagued lefty had thrown just 47 1/3 innings between the start of 2019 and Wednesday, thanks in large part to his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Then he threw nearly one-fifth that many innings Wednesday alone, while making history.
Here are 13 more amazing facts to know about Rodón’s no-no:
• This was the 20th White Sox no-hitter, the most of any American League team. The only team with more is the Dodgers (23), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last White Sox no-hitter was the first of the 2020 season, Giolito’s on Aug. 25 against the Pirates.
• Rodón missed a perfect game by one batter: a ninth-inning, one-out hit-by-pitch of Roberto Pérez. It’s just the sixth time in the Modern Era (since 1900) that a pitcher has missed a perfect game by one hit-by-pitch, according to Elias, and the second this season, along with Joe Musgrove. The only others to lose that perfecto on a ninth-inning HBP are Max Scherzer on June 20, 2015, and Hooks Wiltse on July 4, 1908.
• With Rodón falling just short, MLB still has not seen a perfect game since Félix Hernández threw one for Seattle against Tampa Bay on Aug. 15, 2012. That’s the longest drought since more than 13 years elapsed from May 8, 1968 (Catfish Hunter) to May 15, 1981 (Len Barker).
• It’s only mid-April and we’ve already seen two no-hitters. It’s just the eighth time we’ve had multiple April no-hitters, and the first time since 1994 (Kent Mercker, Scott Erickson). There have never been more than two no-hitters in April. And if this feels like a fast start to the season, consider this: April 14 is the earliest calendar date by which we’ve had two no-hitters in any season in MLB history.
• This is the second time there has been a no-hitter on April 14, and the other also belonged to the White Sox. Eddie Cicotte no-hit the St. Louis Browns on April 14, 1917. That was the sixth no-hitter in franchise history.
• Musgrove threw his no-hitter on April 9, meaning that just four days passed between the last two no-hitters in baseball. As The Athletic’s Jayson Stark noted, that’s the fewest days between no-hitters league-wide since 2011, when Francisco Liriano threw one on May 3 and Justin Verlander followed up with his own on May 7.
• Rodón was the third overall pick in the 2014 Draft out of North Carolina State. He joins Verlander (No. 2 pick), Josh Beckett (No. 2 pick) and former White Sox righty Philip Humber (No. 3) as the only top-three Draft picks to throw a no-hitter since the Draft began in 1965, according to Elias.
• White Sox catcher Zack Collins was making just his 15th career start behind the plate, in his 16th overall game at catcher. His 15 games caught before catching this no-hitter are tied for the fifth-fewest before catching a no-hitter in the Modern Era (since 1900), according to Elias. In 1969, Don Bryant also caught a no-hitter in his 16th career game at the position. The four individuals to do it after fewer games: Curt Blefary in 1968 (fourth career game at catcher), Jerry Grote in 1964 (fifth), Ferrell Anderson in 1946 (seventh) and Harry Barton in 1905 (eighth).
• Rodón threw 57 fastballs out of his 114 pitches (50%) and averaged 95.0 mph. Amazingly, his three fastest pitches of the night all came in the ninth inning. Rodón threw a 97.9 mph pitch that Pérez fouled off before the hit-by-pitch and then threw heaters of 98.8 mph and 97.5 to the final batter, Jordan Luplow. Both were called balls but showed that Rodón was emptying the tank as he neared the finish line.
• In the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), only two left-handed starters have ever thrown a pitch 98.8 mph or faster in the ninth inning of a game or later. CC Sabathia did it once, to his final batter in a shutout of Tampa Bay in 2011. And James Paxton did in twice, to his final batter in a no-hitter at Toronto in ’18.
• José Ramírez hit a liner to left in the seventh inning that had a 110.6 mph exit velocity and was barreled, with an .820 expected batting average that was the highest of any Indians batted ball in the game. After the game Rodón talked to NBC Sports Chicago’s Jason Benetti about that Ramírez at-bat, noting the strong contact, and said that after that out was made, “That’s when I started kinda feeling it,” with regard to the no-hitter.
However, Ramírez’s drive was the exception. Rodón allowed hard contact (95-plus mph) on just seven of the 20 batted balls against him, and a .300-plus xBA on only five of 20.
• On the Cleveland side, Indians’ starter Zach Plesac recorded just two outs, not making it out of the first inning. It’s just the sixth time the opposing starter did not make it out of the first inning when a no-hitter was thrown, according to Elias, and first time since Mike Leake on July 12, 2019, when the Angels had a combined no-no against the Mariners.
• Tony La Russa managed his first no-hitter since Bud Smith’s in 2001 with the Cardinals. There was a span of 19 years, 223 days between that and Rodón’s. That’s the third-longest span between no-hitters managed, trailing only Connie Mack (29 years, 14 days from 1916 to 1945 no-hitters) and Leo Durocher (23 years, 118 days from 1946 to 1969 no-hitters). On the flip side, this was the first time a Terry Francona-managed team was ever no-hit. Francona managed 3,146 regular-season games before the no-hitter, the third-most of any manager before being no-hit for the first time. Only Bucky Harris (3,661) and Walter Alston (3,610) managed more games before their teams were no-hit, according to Elias. It is worth noting, of course, that Alston managed opposite Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956, but that was in the World Series.