If there’s any singular player the Yankees desperately need to bounce back in 2024, it is starting pitcher Carlos Rodon. After missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Yankees are banking on Rodon to be their No. 2 behind Gerrit Cole, who just won a Cy Young award in the American League.
When general manager Brian Cashman signed Rodon to a six-year, $162 million deal, he expected the star lefty to support the rotation significantly. He was coming off two phenomenal seasons with the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants, hosting a 2.88 ERA, including 12 strikeouts per nine, a 75.1% left-on-base rate, and a 34.1% ground ball rate across a career-high 178 innings in 2022. In addition, his HR/FB ratio sat at 6.5%, but that number ballooned to 15.2% this past season, also hosting a 6.85 ERA across just 64.1 innings.
Unfortunately, we did not see the best version of Rodon, who sustained a left forearm strain early in the year, dismantling his throwing program. He was also diagnosed with a chronic back injury and sustained a hamstring injury late in the season. His entire year was thrown off course, but Rodon is more than capable of bouncing back and being the linchpin in the rotation.
In fact, his performance could be the variable that helps improve the team significantly since the Yankees are also relying on Nestor Cortes to bounce back, Clarke Schmidt to take a step forward, and Marcus Stroman to stay healthy.
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The Yankees Clearly Have Rodon on a New Diet
Fortunately, it seems as if Rodon has been working diligently to lose weight this off-season, similar to Giancarlo Stanton. A picture posted by his wife, Ashley, suggests that Rodon not only looks thinner but leaner.
That could help support better stamina since heavier weight would put more pressure on his back and lower body. The hope is that being in better shape significantly improves his durability, which is a direct link to his performance.
The Yankees haven’t done much to support the rotation outside of signing Stroman, so they are taking a big risk, but the upside is certainly still there. The perfect storm of negatives happened in 2023, so who’s to say the opposite can’t go down in 2024?