By: Chris Larson
As the calendar begins to turn to September, some teams are looking towards this season and plan on calling up players within their system to help their team get over the hump and potentially even closer to clinching a postseason berth. On the other hand, there will be a handful of teams that will participate in the September call-up process, but with a different focus in mind: the future. For those teams, the September callup process is an integral part of their rebuild process, as they evaluate the talent that they currently have within their organization, while making a plan moving forward and potentially starting to gather an idea of what their needs might be, as soon as this coming offseason.
During every season, there are always one or two players that make a significant impact on their big league club, however, because their club is in rebuild mode or out of contention for this year, they might not get the recognition that they deserve or get attention in the first place. Here are three starting pitchers, on three clubs either in rebuild mode or out of contention for this season, that have sort of cemented themselves into that team's future plans.
1. Dereck Rodriguez (San Francisco Giants) - Dereck Rodriguez, son of Hall of Famer, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, made quite an impression with the Giants this season and has certainly cemented himself as a building block within the Giants rotation moving forward. Rodriguez received his big league callup at the end of May, May 29th to be exact, and did nothing but dazzle from Day One. During the 14 games that Rodriguez started, he posted a 2.25 ERA over 80 innings of work with 65 strikeouts and an Opponent Batting Average Against of .207. Unfortunately, Rodriguez hit the Disabled List last Friday with a hamstring strain, which put an end to his dazzling rookie campaign, but don't worry because when he's healthy, he will come back and do some amazing things. For the Giants, the starting rotation this year didn't live up to expectations again, but that was mainly due to injuries with, Johnny Cueto hitting the DL and eventually finding out that he needed Tommy John Surgery, and with both, Madison Bumgarner along with Jeff Samardzija, missing time on the DL as well. The Giants spent quite a bit of money on both Cueto and Samardzija - Cueto is still owed $65.5 million dollars, while Samardzija has $39.6 million dollars remaining on his contract. That is why the Giants need to focus on developing pitching within and Dereck Rodriguez is someone who can certainly help to anchor those efforts moving forward.
2. Carlos Rodon (Chicago White Sox) - This season has sort of been a big step forward for Carlos Rodon, who is only beginning to reach his peak, at 25 years of age. Rodon, who was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 Amateur Draft, is under control through the 2022 season and a big reason why the Chicago White Sox, decided not to trade him, at this year's July 31st Non-Waiver Trade Deadline despite there being demand. Based on how Rodon has performed this season, you certainly can't blame the White Sox for holding onto him and wanting to look towards the future, when the team is competitive, with him in tow. So far this season, Carlos Rodon has posted a 2.71 ERA over 86.1 IP with a 1.01 WHIP and 69 strikeouts. Even more impressive is how Rodon has performed over his last 8 starts. During that span, he has posted a 1.75 ERA over 56.2 innings of work with 30 hits, 23 walks, 47 strikeouts, and an Opponent Batting Average Against of .158. Certainly a promising sign that things are progressing in the right direction for Rodon and a reason why the Chicago White Sox should plan on using him as a pillar moving forward and eventually a 1-2 punch to go along with up-and-coming young star, Michael Kopech. If things progress like they look on paper for both Carlos Rodon and Michael Kopech, the Chicago White Sox will have a tremendously bright future and potentially the two biggest starting pitchers in the game, mimicking similar results to Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, and Corey Kluber.
3. Trevor Williams (Pittsburgh Pirates) - After trading franchise stars, Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen this past offseason, many people throughout baseball expected the Pirates to take a step back and have their eyes set towards the future. That is what has primarily happened this season although the team hasn't been completely horrible all year either. However, the Pirates won't be contending this season, regardless of what happens here down the stretch, and that means that they will be forced to look into the future and start building the next championship ball club. One of the starting pitchers, who certainly needs to be part of the plan moving forward in Pittsburgh, is 26-year old righty, Trevor Williams. Williams is another starting pitcher, who has sort of taken that next step in his career, and has shown how dominant he can be when on the mound and his mechanics are working in his favor. So far this season, Williams has put up a 3.44 ERA over 136 innings of work with 90 strikeouts and has a 2.5 WAR as well. Not necessarily the most dominant stats, but over the last 28 days, Williams has a 1.16 ERA over 31 IP with an Opponent Batting Average Against of .217. If Williams is able to continue to develop and throw his pitches for strikes when it counts the most, the Pirates may very well have their next ace, to couple along with recently acquired Chris Archer, as they move towards being competitive in the coming seasons.