Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth inning in Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets.
San Francisco Giants starter Carlos Rodón has spent the past 3+ innings huffing and puffing about the mound, as emotive as a bull, throwing all-gas all over the place. Patient Mets hitters and difficulty locating his fastball early in counts has him averaging around 20 pitches per inning.
The Giants are up 5-0 at this point. Rodón is pitching against himself and taking it personally.
Desperate for a quick inning, he gets Francisco Lindor to pop up to third before Pete Alonso lines a single to left center on an eye level fastball.
It’s a hit Rodón just has to laugh at. A polar bear swinging a baseball bat. It’s funny.
But it quickly becomes unfunny when Eduardo Escobar steps into the box. Escobar doubled off Rodón in the second on the 6th pitch of the at-bat. This time he takes an 0-2 count for 10 pitches, fouling off four, before collecting a walk.
This is when I learned a lot about Carlos Rodón. He’s a new friend and a little intense, but what I gathered from his fourth inning is that when gets mad —actually mad—he’s focused. He’s not slapping himself on the hip, taking a lap around the mound, spitting and swearing at himself. He takes the rubber, understands that he’s actually playing against the person with the bat in their hand 60 feet away and trusts his stuff.
In general, “stuff” is a high 90s fastball up he throws around 60% of the time and a slider. On Wednesday, he was geared to one speed and with one out and two runners on, Rodón wasn’t coming off the gas.
Here’s Mark Canha’s at-bat.
But it’s not just speed, it’s location. The ump lets Rodón in the door with the inside strike call on the first pitch and he takes up residency. That third strike is perfect. Just perfect.
J.D. Davis steps in and Rodón’s stuff is so convincing the ump can’t help but give him a little room off the plate to play with. After that, Davis’s at-bat is over. Two pitches later, it’s official.
After three starts, I’ve learned that Carlos Rodón is infuriatingly fun to watch. I like the expressions, the guff, the bull-in-a-china-shop approach. It’s amazing that he can throw his fastball 81% of the time against an excellent and professional Mets lineup that does not strike out often and still be successful.
It’s one thing for Jake McGee to make it work over an inning—but to do it over 5?
Thanks in part to some early offense and Rodón etching his name in the franchise record books, the Giants were able to get back in the win column in Flushing with a 5-2 victory over New York.
Alone at the top pic.twitter.com/pPmT8pIweM— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 21, 2022
Pretty cool Carlos. But as cool as Wilmer Flores’s glove work third?
Wilmer Flores saves the day pic.twitter.com/j9aDPGbIBj— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 21, 2022
Or Joey Bart’s cannon in the 7th?
Imagine thinking you could outrun BART pic.twitter.com/BqkbpaJ0FE— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 21, 2022
Or Brandon Belt putting his 0 for 19 b-day curse to bed with his homer in the 2nd?
Belt birthday bazooka pic.twitter.com/WVBpO5JsXS— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 20, 2022
Get a good night’s sleep. Early day tomorrow.