Yankees get a so-so start from southpaw, take 4-3 loss to Rays

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

It would be an overcast day in George M. Steinbrenner Field as the Yankees would host the Rays for an afternoon contest, with Carlos Rodon getting the start. He’d look to build on his previous start, getting to 60 pitches today, but it didn’t go exactly as he hoped. A first-pitch home run would put him behind the 8-ball on the afternoon, and while he’d put together a strong second and third inning, the fourth would be another rough one as Richie Palacios delivered a knockout blow to end his outing with three runs allowed across three frames.

While they would claw back with some solo home runs from Gleyber Torres and Carlos Narvaez, it would be too little too late for the Yankees as they’d drop this one 4-3 on the afternoon.

Carlos Rodon Has Bumpy Outing, Yankees’ Bullpen Shines

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Mar 6, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

It was a weird outing for Carlos Rodon, as there were some brilliant innings and then some downright awful ones. His fastball wasn’t sitting where it should in terms of velocity, but this isn’t atypical for him at this point. Reports in 2021 and 2023 showed his fastball sitting at 92 MPH, and he was a tick above that mark this afternoon, so I wouldn’t start pressing the panic button on his velocity just yet. The important takeaway is that his body is responding well to the workload, and the goal is that he makes it through camp healthy, but strong results would certainly help the confidence.

His cutter did look strong, getting some weak contact and swings and misses on it throughout the game, and he mixed in some curveballs and changeups as well. What the Yankees are hoping for from Carlos Rodon is some form of consistency and brilliance, as while it may not be the Cy Young caliber numbers we saw with the White Sox and Giants, it can still be effective and beneficial if he’s around a 3.50 ERA and can give the team about 150 innings. Time will tell for the southpaw, but the initial results aren’t there for him right now, and that’ll create some concern on the surface.

While he didn’t complete the fourth inning, Luis Velasquez did, and he struck out a batter across his inning of work with no hits or walks allowed, sitting in the mid-90s with his heater. He’s expected to start his season with the High-A Hudson Valley Renegades.

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Gil (81) throws a live bathing practice session during spring training practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Gil looked solid in his second outing of Spring Training, sporting his usual crisp fastball and some solid sliders, but the most interesting detail was the changeup usage. The right-hander used it 33% of the time and he had more depth and velocity separation on the pitch, with it generating three whiffs in six swings while facing some tough hitters in the Tampa Bay Rays lineup. He struck out three batters and allowed two hits, one of them being his sole blemish of the day in the form of a solo blast.

Nick Ramirez would toss an inning and a third of scoreless baseball with a strikeout and could make the team with the injuries they’re dealing with in their bullpen. Tommy Kahnle isn’t expected to make the Opening Day roster, and thus the veteran reliability of the southpaw could result in them using him on their initial 26-man roster. Another name who could end up on their Opening Day roster is Nick Burdi, who was filthy in his third outing of the spring.

READ MORE: Yankees’ emerging starter displayed encouraging changes in Spring Training start

The right-hander collected two strikeouts and retired the side in order, sitting 98.4 MPH on his fastball and throwing 88 MPH sliders including the one he punched out Nick Meyer on. He’s been impressive thus far in Spring Training, although his health remains a massive question mark as he’s a two-time Tommy John survivor with an extended history of injuries that could rear their ugly head. On the offensive side of the ball, Gleyber Torres collected two knocks including a solo blast, as he’s starting to heat up in Spring Training.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Miami Marlins
Mar 4, 2024; Jupiter, Florida, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) throws to first base to retire Miami Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez (not pictured) during the third inning at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Narvaez, who is expected to serve as catching depth in Triple-A for the Yankees, served a solo shot in his only trip to the plate today as well. The Yankees will pick things up with another home game against the Detroit Tigers at 6:35 PM, although a starter has yet to be announced for this game.

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