Giants’ Carlos Rodon keeps strange pitch-count streak going in win vs. Pirates

Rodón keeps odd pitch-count streak going in win vs. Pirates originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

When it comes to pitch counts, there have been wild swings for some of the Giants in recent weeks. Alex Wood and Logan Webb have talked about getting longer leashes, and Webb did earlier this week at home, throwing a career-high 112 pitches in a win over the Kansas City Royals. That came two starts after Webb was pulled after just 87 and expressed some displeasure about it.

There have been no swings for the staff’s other ace, though. Right now, Carlos Rodón’s pitch count might be the most predictable thing in Major League Baseball. It’s also one of the stranger stats.

Rodón threw 98 pitches in Friday’s 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, which gave him exactly 98 pitches for a fourth consecutive start. The difference this time was that he was efficient with his 98.

Rodón completed eight innings, his most as a Giant. He had not even been through seven full innings since April 15, but he needed just 58 pitches to record the first 14 outs. Rodón had a no-hitter to that point, and the fifth ended up being a 26-pitch frame after a base hit and walk. He bounced back by getting through the next two innings on 18 pitches, and then cruised through the eighth, as well.

“Probably the most important thing was some contact and balls in play. That’s important for him,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “As crazy as it sounds, if he’s striking everybody out but running really deep counts and a ton of foul balls, it’s going to be more difficult for him to get through eight innings.”

Rodón still struck a lot of Pirates out – eight of them, to be exact – but they only fouled off 18 pitches, a far cry from the 33 foul balls the Colorado Rockies hit off Rodón two starts ago. He lasted just four innings that night, and that start came on the heels of a 98-pitch, five-inning performance, and one in which Rodón was pulled after 99 pitches and 5 1/3 innings. Last weekend, he went six innings on 98 pitches against the Dodgers.

On Friday, Rodón mixed in his slider nearly as much as his fastball, getting 13 swinging strikes. He also got seven outs on the ground, which kept the innings humming along. Thairo Estrada made a spectacular play behind him early and Luis Gonzalez had a nifty sliding catch later in the game.

“Hats off to our defense,” Rodón said. “They got me through the eight innings today, caught every ball, made every play and scored the runs we needed.”

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Rodón was so efficient that it was tempting to think of a shutout, which would have been just his second in the Majors, joining a no-hitter he threw last year. But after some dugout discussions, Camilo Doval started warming up. He closed out the Pirates for his 10th save and finished off the two-hitter.

“I figured we would go to Doval,” Rodón said. “That was a good move. It’s a long season. Obviously I would like to go back out, but I thought we made the right decision. Kapler made the right decision to go to a fresh arm.”

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