Yankees’ $162 million pitcher remaining confident after getting shelled in final spring training performance

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees need all the value they invested in starting pitcher Carlos Rodon last off-season, which amounted to $162 million over six years. Unfortunately, the 31-year-old had a disappointing 2023 season despite expectations that he would lock down the number two spot behind Gerrit Cole.

Instead, Rodon suffered multiple injuries, leading to just 64.1 innings pitched, hosting a 6.85 ERA with 8.95 strikeouts per nine, a 60.5% left-on-base rate, and a career-worst 27.1% ground ball rate. His home runs per nine skyrocketed, and he has allowed the most walks since 2019.

With Cole already set to miss a few months, the Yankees desperately need Rodon to carry his weight and step up for a team that is rather thin in the rotation. They are hoping for the bounce back of several key arms, but Rodon certainly didn’t offer much optimism in his final spring training performance on Saturday afternoon.

The Yankees Need Rodon to Carry His Weight and Then Some

Over four innings, Rodon allowed seven hits and five earned runs, striking out just two batters against the Philadelphia Phillies. However, over his previous 9.2 innings, Rodon only gave up one earned run, so it is fair to say it could’ve been an anomaly.

The veteran starter is putting spring training behind him, suggesting that none of it matters now that the regular season is about to start and the slate will be clean for everyone.

“Now it’s real,” Rodon said on Saturday. “Now the games matter and whatever this spring training was, it’s gone. It doesn’t matter anymore. Now the games count.”

Despite being shelled by the Phillies, Rodon feels confident that he will step up in the regular season and put together consistent performances that represent the opposite of what he displayed last year, his first season with the Yankees.

“I feel confident in myself,” Rodon said. “I felt like I could have thrown more today. So that’s a good sign that I had more in the tank. But it’s nice to go through a whole spring training and get those up-and-downs and get that pitch count up.

Ideally, Rodon would help supplement the loss of Cole until his eventual return, but for now, there is more pessimism than optimism that he will roll back the clock and put together his 2022 metrics when he pitched 178 innings with a 2.88 ERA. That is the player of the Yankees ultimately signed to a long-term extension, and they are desperately trying to get their money’s worth, helping Rodon lose a significant amount of weight and try to stifle any further possibility of injury.

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