Yankees’ lefty starter showing he’s worth every penny of $162 million

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, carlos rodon
James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have been eagerly anticipating a return on their significant 2023 investment in pitching talent, hoping for Carlos Rodon to live up to expectations.

Rodon’s Resurgence for the Yankees

After a less-than-stellar first year with the Yankees, Rodon is reminiscent of his excellent 2022 season with the San Francisco Giants, where he boasted a 2.88 ERA across 178 innings. This revival is a welcome development for the Yankees, who banked heavily on Rodon’s capabilities.

Despite a noticeable drop in strikeouts, Rodon’s overall metrics are aligning with his past performance levels. So far this season, he has pitched 49 innings with a 3.31 ERA and nine strikeouts per nine innings, an 85.5% left-on-base rate, and a 32.4% ground ball rate. His last two starts have been particularly strong, allowing only three runs over 12.1 innings and tallying 13 strikeouts.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, carlos rodon
Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Analyzing Rodon’s Arsenal

Rodon’s season has not been without its challenges, such as a rough outing against Baltimore on May 2, where he surrendered six earned runs in just four innings. However, this appears to be an outlier, as his performances before and after this game have been solid.

This season, Rodon has effectively employed a mix of a four-seam fastball, slider, and cutter. His fastball has a .248 batting average against, and his slider has been especially effective, with a .213 batting average against and a .190 expected batting average. The slider boasts a 39.8% whiff rate and a 25.9% put-away rate, showing 43% more horizontal movement than average.

Notably, Rodon’s slider relies on vertical rather than sweeping movement. He has also introduced a cutter, used primarily against right-handers, which accounts for about 10.3% of his pitches, adding an element of deception.

Despite still recovering from the setbacks of multiple injuries last year, Rodon is showing considerable progress. The Yankees recognize his efforts toward regaining form and acknowledge that while occasional poor performances are expected, the overall trend is positive. Rodon is on his way to justifying his hefty salary, though the team will be looking for even greater consistency as the season progresses.

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