Yankees’ $162 million pitcher trending toward major bounceback

mlb: game two-new york yankees at boston red sox, carlos rodon
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees did plenty to reinforce their offense and rebuild their outfield this off-season, but their 2024 season may fall on the shoulders of the starting rotation and several players carrying their weight.

Last season, the Yankees hoped that spending $162 million on Carlos Rodon would give them a dominant No. 2 pitcher behind Gerrit Cole. Cole went onto the AL Cy Young award, and Rodon was nothing more than a bust in his first season donning the pinstripes. Now 31 years old and headed into the second year of a six-year deal, Rodon is looking to bounce back and has taken the necessary steps.

On Thursday, general manager Brian Cashman spoke to the media, stating that Rodon had traveled down to Tampa to start his preseason program early. Not only has he cut weight and leaned out, but Rodon should be 100% ready to go from a health perspective.

Last year, he only pitched 64.1 innings, hosting a 6.85 ERA, 5.79 FIP, 8.95 strikeouts per nine, 60.5% left-on-base rate, and 27.1% ground ball rate. It was nothing compared to his 2022 season with the San Francisco Giants when he pitched 178 innings and recorded a 2.88 ERA.

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The Yankees Need The Rodon They Paid For

The Yankees know that Rodon can be something special and help lock down the rotation this upcoming season, but a lot rides on his shoulders, and he must be feeling the pressure.

Behind him, the Yankees are hoping that Marcus Stroman, Nestor Cortes, and Clarke Schmidt can remain healthy and effective. Cortes battled a left rotator cuff strain last season, and Schmidt struggled with hurdles transitioning to a starting role.

Cashman even noted that they are taking a few gambles in the rotation, and that is not an ideal strategy, but they will reinforce the position appropriately if required. The Yankees will have the summer trade deadline to make any acquisitions necessary, even if it means going after a star like Dylan Cease or Corbin Burnes, who’s on an expiring contract and in his final year of arbitration.

Nonetheless, Rodon is the linchpin in the rotation this upcoming season since the Yankees can’t afford to have more than one liability in the unit. They are paying Rodon $27 million per season to be a dominant arm, and that is precisely what they expect from him moving forward.