The Yankees’ 2024 season could ride on the shoulders of two bounce-back candidates

mlb: milwaukee brewers at new york yankees, giancarlo stanton
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Yankees missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, they’re still in hot pursuit of finding more pitching to reinforce the rotation. However, most of the current roster will be expected to step up and help the organization compete for a World Series. With the team having failed to reach the peak of baseball in over a decade, general manager Brian Cashman made a significant move to acquire Juan Soto and hopes of bolstering that aspiration.

This upcoming season may ride on the back of two bounce-back candidates, both of whom are coming off down seasons riddled with injury.

The Yankees Need a Giancarlo Stanton Resurgence

To start, let’s discuss Giancarlo Stanton, who is now 34 years old and has seen back-to-back down years of performance. In 2022, Stanton played 110 games, hitting .211/.297/.462, including 31 homers, 78 RBIs, and a 30.3% strikeout rate. His numbers dipped even further this past year, hitting .191/275/.420, including 24 homers and 60 RBIs across 101 games.

Stanton’s bat speed has reduced, and he’s made inconsistent contact with the baseball. Interestingly, his flyball rate was above his career average at 44.4%, but his HR/FB rate dropped 21.8%, 5% worse than his career average. He needs to regain his confidence, stay healthy, and attack the ball in the strike zone. He swung at too many wayward pitches, which put him at a disadvantage and hurt his ability to remain aggressive. For the first time since 2018, his walk rate dropped below 10%, seeing him feature the worst on-base percentage in his career.

If Stanton can support the lineup in the middle of the order, his value will be astronomical. His ability to hit over 30 homers per season and feature as a prominent bat makes him extremely valuable. While he won’t be able to help much defensively, Stanton has the capacity to reverse course and offer the Yankees a dominant season in 2024, and they will certainly need it if they want to reach the World Series.

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Carlos Rodon is the Key to the Rotation

Next up on the list is Carlos Rodon. This is an obvious one, with the Yankees giving him $162 million over six years last year. At 31 years old, Rodon is coming off his worst season as a professional. Go figure it was right after signing with the Yankees.

Over 64.1 innings, he posted a 6.85 ERA and 5.79 FIP, including his lowest strikeouts per nine rate since 2018. His 60.5% left-on-base rate and 27.1% ground ball rate were both career lows, with a minimum of 50 innings pitched.

Injuries hit him early, having suffered a left forearm strain, chronic back injury, and hamstring issue. Fortunately, all of those things seem to be under control now, and he should be ready to go for spring training.

However, the Yankees need to be extremely careful with how they ramp up his throwing program since they will need him at full capacity for the duration of the year. As mentioned, missing Yamamoto certainly hurts, but it wouldn’t have mattered if Rodon didn’t bounce back anyway since the Yankees need to get full value out of his $27.8 million adjusted salary on a yearly basis.