The Yankees have certainly put a greater emphasis on building out a complete rotation in recent years. Whether it was the acquisition of Taillon a few years back, bringing in Kluber to fill out the roto and help younger arms, or of course, the massive Gerrit Cole contract, they clearly know pitching wins championships.
This offseason, they continued that mantra as they inked Carlos Rodón to a 6-year deal worth $162 million. Now, the combination of Cole and Rodón looks to be one of the best in all of baseball.
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Cole is still the ace of the staff, even with a year below his standards:
Gerrit Cole continues to be the ace of this staff, even following a down year by his standards. In his “down” year, he posted a 3.50 ERA to pair with a 3.47 FIP, and he was one of just eight guys that pitched 200+ innings last season. It’s clear as day that he’s still one of the premier pitchers in the game, not to mention he passed the legendary Goose Gossage with the most strikeouts in a single season — 257. He showed up in the postseason, continued to deal day-in-day-out whenever he took the bump and was one of the most dominant arms in the league.
Take away an uptick in HR that he gave up, which seemed to be an unreasonably high amount for someone with his skill set, and he’s still talked about as one of the elite of the elite. His 1.48 HR/9 was the second-worst of his career, and that figure should decrease this season, assuming he attacks hitters more high in the zone. Cole had a tendency to work off his fastball rather than use that dominant pitch, and he, of all players, will take note of such. There is simply no feasible argument to say he’ll regress, if anything, he’ll take a big step in the right direction. Now that he has arguably the best No.2 in baseball behind him, in Rodón, it should take some weight off his shoulders.
Rodón helps Cole by providing just as much dominance from the No.2 spot:
Rodón was the prize of the offseason, and countless teams were jockeying for his signature. Though he has only pitched 170+ innings once, this last year, he should grade out to be the best number two starter in the entire league. Last year he should’ve received more votes than he did for NL Cy Young, and his 2.64 ERA & 2.25 FIP were both amongst the best in the NL. He dominated hitters, relied on his filthy slider more than he had in years past (threw it 31.1% of the time), and the results came with it. The biggest gripe with Rodón has always been his health, but assuming he pitches 170+ innings again, he will once more be a star.
Rodón is an interesting pitcher because he doesn’t rely on crazy velocity to blow hitters by but instead plays off his fastball that dances over the plate. Though it is a 4-seam, it moves much more like a 2-seam with its 2349 RPM & 12.0 inches of drop. He and Cole should be firing on all cylinders and will make for a filthy one-two punch come October. The Giants desperately tried to get him to stay, but they knew his market was likely out of their reach, and Rodón reportedly wanted to go to the east coast.
I feel as though this will be one of the most dominant front-two duos the Yankees have run out in years. It will be truly filthy to watch the righty and lefty carve up lineups on back-to-back starts, and with Cortes and Sevy following suit, that’s one of the best four-mans in baseball. I know the fifth spot is up for grabs with Montas being out for the first month at least, but Clarke Schmidt could easily take the reins for the time being. Rodón and Cole will be the combination for the foreseeable future, and there may not be a more dominant combo in baseball.
The Yankees’ rotation should be considered one of the best in baseball:
Though the Astros have a fantastic rotation, as do the Braves, Marlins (though they may move pitching), and Mets, I will ride with the Yankees’ collection of arms any day of the week. Thanks to the star power at the front end, Cole and Rodón could very easily combine for 400 innings if all things work out. That type of value, and consistency as well, will make it so the Yanks should come out on top in most pitching metrics. They generate tons of swings and misses (both guys were in the T15% in Strikeout % & Whiff %), and both should be ready to roll and dominate.
Cole and Rodón will be the staples of the rotation for years to come, and this year will be the year they hit the ground running. We saw in the postseason just how crucial a good rotation is to success, paired with a great bullpen, of course, and the Yanks have both. The team may also still be shopping for more help to supplement the loss of Montas and could be looking to move German, who is out of options. This team is going to be great, and that’ll ride on the backs of this dominant combination at the front of the rotation.