The Yankees might have made a $162 million mistake

mlb: detroit tigers at new york yankees, carlos rodon
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

In what has been a remarkably challenging year for the New York Yankees, their starting rotation stands out as a particular point of disappointment. Entering the season, expectations were sky-high, featuring an enviable lineup of Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortés, Frankie Montas, and Domingo German.

A Carousel of Injuries and Inconsistencies

Sadly, the roster has been marred by a series of injuries and unpredictable performances. Severino, Montas, and German are likely on their way out following this offseason, leaving the Yankees with a significant rebuilding job ahead. It’s a future that demands immediate attention.

Carlos Rodon: A $162 Million Question Mark

Making matters worse, General Manager Brian Cashman may have committed a $162 million blunder with Carlos Rodon. The pitcher’s 2023 performance has been nothing short of dismal. Rodon was jeered off the mound on a recent Thursday after a catastrophic 3.2 innings, where he yielded eight hits and seven earned runs and managed a paltry four strikeouts from 73 pitches.

“I’m not going to make any excuses for my performance tonight,” he said. “I just wasn’t good and it has to be better.”

A Sinking Ship: Rodon’s Plummeting Stats

Rodon’s monthly ERA tells a sad tale—5.75 in July, 6.23 in August, and a staggering 9.35 in September. His season-average ERA now sits uncomfortably at 6.60. Not only has his ERA taken a beating, but his other statistics have also significantly declined. His strikeouts per nine innings have dropped from an impressive 12.9 last season to a mediocre 8.00 this year. Adding to the concern, Rodon is also averaging over four walks and 2.33 homers per nine innings, coupled with a 16% HR/FB ratio.

The laundry list of declining metrics continues. Rodon’s left-on-base percentage has dipped to a career-low 67%, and his ground-ball rate is below 30% for the first time ever.

The Injury Factor: Is Rodon’s Health to Blame?

One could argue that Rodon’s troubling stats are not entirely his fault. After suffering a forearm strain during spring training and then contending with a chronic back injury, Rodon has been visibly off-kilter. A hamstring issue several weeks ago hasn’t helped matters. Despite these setbacks, he has managed to clock only 46.1 innings this season, which is hardly commensurate with his $22.8 million adjusted salary for the year.

A Long-Term Commitment: Is Rodon Worth the Investment?

With Rodon under contract until 2029, the Yankees have a long road ahead. He’ll be 35 by the time he hits free agency and is already grappling with recurring injuries and plummeting consistency. While the team hopes for a renaissance in 2024, this contract increasingly seems like a gamble that may not pay off.

Pitch Problems: The Technical Side of Rodon’s Struggles

While his velocity remains intact, Rodon’s pitch shape and location have been erratic. His whiff rates have seen a significant decline compared to last season, and the break on his pitches has also deteriorated. If Rodon can’t turn things around by next season, this could become another regrettable chapter in Cashman’s series of unfortunate decisions.

The Domino Effect: Rodon and Montas’ Impact on Yankees’ Future

The combination of trading for Montas and signing Rodon could have devastating repercussions for the Yankees’ future. While there’s still a chance for Rodon to justify his contract, Montas may never don the pinstripes again. The Yankees are at a critical juncture, and how they navigate their pitching woes will have a lasting impact on the franchise.

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