Yankees’ $162 million pitcher finally turns in a good performance

mlb: houston astros at new york yankees, carlos rodon

The New York Yankees eagerly anticipated promising returns from their hefty $162 million investment in free-agent acquisition Carlos Rodon. However, the 30-year-old pitcher’s performance has been marked by inconsistency during his debut season donning the pinstripes.

Inconsistent Debut Season With the Yankees

Since signing a six-year contract with the Yankees, Rodon’s performance has raised concerns. Across 33 innings, his ERA stands at 6.27, with 7.09 strikeouts per nine innings, a 71.4% left-on-base rate, and a 31.3% ground ball rate. Alarmingly, Rodon has yielded a significant number of walks, and his home runs allowed per nine innings reached a career-high 2.45, with a 17.6% HR/FB ratio.

Battling Injuries and Struggles

Rodon’s journey this season has been marred by adversity. A forearm strain during spring training disrupted his rhythm, and a chronic back injury further hindered his progress. This season’s version of Rodon falls short of the performance he showcased with the San Francisco Giants in 2022. Back then, he excelled with a career-high 178 innings pitched, boasting a 2.88 ERA and nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings.

Unfulfilled Expectations

The Yankees’ aspiration was to create an elite starting pitching duo by pairing Rodon with Gerrit Cole. Unfortunately, his struggles this season have left the team in a challenging position.

Rodon relies primarily on a four-seam fastball, slider, and occasionally employs a curveball. His fastball has yielded a .235 batting average against, featuring a 19.3% whiff rate and a 10.1% put-away rate. Comparing these metrics to his previous season’s fastball performance (.213 batting average, different whiff, and put-away rates) raises concerns.

Analyzing the Metrics

Rodon’s four-seam fastball has undergone changes since the previous season. It has lost an inch of vertical movement and 0.4 inches of horizontal movement. In contrast, his slider’s shape remains largely unchanged.

Recent Performance and Progress

In his most recent outing against the Washington Nationals, following a left hamstring injury, Rodon threw 68 pitches. His arsenal included 39 fastballs, 22 sliders, and seven curveballs. His velocity showcased promise, reaching 97 mph with an average of 95.4 mph. Despite batters making contact on his fastball, and yielding six hits, he managed to concede only one earned run.

Notably, he induced 16 fly balls, the most in any appearance this season. This positive performance hints at progress and improvement.

Crucial Need for Progress

The Yankees’ situation is clear: they need Rodon’s contract to yield positive results. General manager Brian Cashman has encountered challenges with high salaries and limited production. The forthcoming relief from Josh Donaldson’s contract and Aaron Judge’s anticipated full recovery for the 2024 season offer glimmers of hope. The team’s reliance on Giancarlo Stanton’s resurgence remains essential, despite his health concerns and diminished defensive value.

As the season progresses, the Yankees eagerly await signs of improvement from Carlos Rodon, hoping to validate their substantial investment.

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