Posted on May 14, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
It was always going to be difficult for the Chicago White Sox to stay competitive in 2019. That task got a whole lot more difficult on Monday with the team announcing that two key pitchers are out for the season. As expected, starter Carlos Rodon will undergo Tommy John surgery, which will keep him out for the rest of 2019 and part of 2020. In addition, reliever Nate Jones had surgery Monday to repair a flexor mass tear in his right arm. The surgery will keep him sidelined for the rest of the 2019 campaign.
Rodon was Chicago’s opening day starter this season. Despite being 26 and missing time the last two seasons due to injury, he began the season with close to 500 big league innings under his belt. The White Sox were expecting him to lead an otherwise young and largely inexperienced rotation this season. However, that will not be the case.
After seven uneven starts, Rodon went on the Injured List earlier this month with elbow inflammation. Tommy John surgery was initially recommended to the southpaw. After seeking a second opinion, Rodon received confirmation of the diagnosis and will undergo the surgery on Wednesday. Not only will he miss the rest of 2019, but he will likely miss the first chunk of the 2020 season as well.
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“Given the timing of the surgery, it is reasonable to expect Carlos to be able to rejoin us during the second half of the 2020 season,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn said Monday. “In the coming months, we’ll hopefully be able to give you a little more precise update on the projection on his return to action.”
Jones, meanwhile, went on the IL in late April with elbow inflammation. After recovering from his own Tommy John surgery in 2013, Jones has quietly become one of the most consistent setup men in baseball. He posted an ERA of 3.00 or under in each of the last three seasons. Like Rodon, the White Sox were banking on him being a key veteran on a rebuilding team this season.
Instead, Jones will join Rodon on the sidelines the rest of 2019. Jones is in the final guaranteed year of his current contract. The White Sox have options on him for both 2020 and 2021. Had he remained healthy and continued to pitch well this season, Chicago would have most likely picked up his option for next season. However, his future with the club is now up in the air.
At the moment, the White Sox are just two games under .500. They’ve managed to stay somewhat competitive early in the year despite having one of the worst pitching staffs in the American League. With Rodon and Jones out for the season, the Chicago pitching staff is likely to get worse before it gets better. That will make it more difficult for the White Sox to remain in contention in the AL Central or the Wild Card race.
Perhaps more importantly, losing Rodon and Jones is a blow to Chicago’s rebuilding efforts. The White Sox are expecting to be in better shape to compete in 2020. However, Rodon and Jones were once again expected to be big parts of the team. Now the role either one will play in 2020 is up in the air. In one day, the White Sox lost two of their most important pitchers for not only this season but possilby next season as well.