In case you missed what has happened over the past week, here’s a summary.
Rookie Yermin Mercedes was batting in the ninth inning of a 15-4 game against Minnesota.
His White Sox were on top of the Twins, and a position player was on the mound for Minnesota.
On a 3-0 count, Mercedes swung away, and went deep to left-center.
Manager Tony La Russa—a noted old-timer—took exception to his player swinging on the 3-0 pitch, and he made that clear in the postgame interview, saying that there would be consequences.
Then, the next day, Twins reliever Tyler Duffey threw behind Mercedes to send a message, and La Russa had this to say after the game:
Tony La Russa is putting on an absolute clinic for anybody interested in a course on How To Lose a Locker Room in Less than 24 Hours:
“I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled it [throwing behind Yermin Mercedes].” pic.twitter.com/drQ3u7y9Aw
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) May 19, 2021
Needless to say, it’s presumably been a turbulent season in the Chicago locker room.
Several players are flourishing regardless, however, and they deserve recognition.
3. Carlos Rodon
It’s a contract year for Carlos Rodon, and he’s pitching like he wants to get paid this offseason.
We’ve never seen Rodon look even remotely this good, and this is his seventh year in the league.
Through seven starts, Rodon has a 1.27 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 1.91 FIP.
His second start of the year was a no-hitter, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Right now, Rodon is on a 7.8 WAR pace, which would almost certainly get him into the MVP conversation.
Carlos Rodón, K'ing the Side.
White Castle Special with a side of double swords. 🍔🍔🍔🤮⚔️⚔️
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 21, 2021
2. Lance Lynn
34-year-old Lance Lynn is only getting better with age.
The righty is working on the best season of his career, and it’s coming on the heels of back-to-back top-six Cy Young finishes.
Lynn has actually had an extremely respectable career.
He had one rocky season in 2018 when he posted a 4.77 ERA, but he’s managed an ERA below 4.00 in every other year of his career.
If you recall, Lynn had Tommy John surgery after the 2015 season, which kept him sidelined for all of 2016.
Lynn’s resurgence has been admirable.
He had a 3.39 ERA over five seasons before his surgery and has a 3.69 ERA over five seasons since (including this one).
Lynn is an example of a guy who is indisputably thriving despite manager La Russa.
It’s probably a fair assumption that Lynn and La Russa aren’t on the same page about many things, and this tweet is proof:
Lance Lynn last night said "there are no rules" when a position player is pitching, adding: "The more I play this game, the more those (unwritten) rules have gone away."
Tony La Russa said of those remarks: "Lance has a locker. I have an office. … I don't agree."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) May 19, 2021
It hasn’t mattered to Lynn on the mound.
He has a 1.55 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 3.05 FIP and 270 ERA+ (league average on this stat is set to 100, so in other words, Lynn has been 170 percent better than the average pitcher this season).
We’ve never seen this version of Lynn before.
He’s made seven starts this season, and four of them have been scoreless outings.
We’ll see if Lynn can sustain his success all year long.
1. Yermin Mercedes
It’s been a long time since a rookie came into the league and had a season like the one Mercedes is working on.
Through 41 games, Mercedes leads the league in batting at .341.
He’s getting on base at a .400 clip and is slugging .531, which is good for a .931 OPS.
The Rookie of the Year award is his to lose, and at this rate, he might find himself in the MVP mix too.
Mercedes has already dealt with a lot of drama as a rookie, but he’s taking it in stride and has established himself as a key piece on this contending White Sox club.
It will be extremely exciting to see where Mercedes goes from here, because he’s already playing at an elite level.