Yankees’ $162 million pitcher earns every penny in dominant start

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees, carlos rodon
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees secured a victory in the second game of their three-game series against the Houston Astros on Wednesday. This Houston team, now 12–24, appears to be a shadow of its former self. The Yankees have now beaten the Astros nine times in a row.

Yankees Dominate Astros in Game Two

Carlos Rodon, the Yankees’ starting pitcher, delivered a quality performance deserving of his $162M contract, pitching six innings and allowing just two earned runs while striking out seven batters. Despite Kyle Tucker hitting a solo homer in the first inning, the game largely went in the Yankees’ favor. The Astros’ second run came in the seventh inning when the Yankees already held a comfortable 8-1 lead.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Credit: James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

Rodon’s Improvement and Role in the Rotation

This season, the 30-year-old left-hander has a 3.56 ERA and a 4.60 FIP, averaging nine strikeouts per nine innings, with an 83.3% left-on-base rate and a 33.9% ground-ball rate across 43 innings. Rodon is trending in the right direction after a disappointing 2023 season, where he posted a 6.85 ERA. In his last four starts, he’s given up 10 runs in 23.1 innings while seeing a slight uptick in strikeout rate.

Consistency is crucial, and Rodon is already showing strong velocity on his fastball, averaging 95.2 mph. His slider has been particularly effective, holding batters to a .205 average and achieving a 38.2% whiff rate with 22 strikeouts. While he relies primarily on his four-seam fastball and slider, he has also experimented with a cutter, yielding only a .200 batting average against, with just two hits allowed.

Currently positioned as the number two starter behind Gerrit Cole, Rodon remains a crucial part of the rotation. However, the Yankees have been shuffling their pitching order, and Luis Gil has been the most consistent and dominant starter. With Cole’s return from injury approaching, there will be an interesting discussion about how the rotation will shift.

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