The New York Yankees are tantalizingly close to regaining their full health, even though there’s still some uncertainty surrounding the timeline for Aaron Judge’s comeback from a right big toe ligament tear. However, the Bombers’ anticipation is at an all-time high, with two key players from their starting rotation set to return in the coming weeks.
Carlos Rodon: A Promising Comeback on the Horizon
On Friday, Carlos Rodon, the Yankees’ $162 million-dollar free-agent signing, will play his third rehab assignment on July 1, gearing up for his much-anticipated return on July 7th, just before the All-Star break.
The Yankees’ strategy involves giving Carlos a taste of action before the week-long hiatus, ensuring a fully fit return for the second half of the season.
When General Manager Brian Cashman secured Rodon’s services this past off-season, he envisaged Rodon providing top-notch pitching alongside Gerrit Cole at the forefront of the rotation. Rodon’s record speaks for itself, coming off back-to-back formidable seasons, first with the Chicago White Sox, then with the San Francisco Giants. His impressive ERAs, 2.37 in 2021 and 2.88 over a career-high 178 innings the following year are a testament to his prowess.
Moreover, Rodon tallied 6.2 WAR, recording an impressive 12 strikeouts per nine innings and boasting a 75.1% left-on-base rate, in addition to a career-low 6.5% HR/FB ratio. The 30-year-old’s lethal combination of a four-seam fastball, slider, and curveball has often left batters bewildered. His fastball has consistently delivered, recording a .213 batting average against with a 27.9% whiff rate and generating 8% more vertical movement than the average pitcher.
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Nestor Cortés: From Injury to Recovery
Parallel to Rodon’s progress, Nestor Cortés is also making steady headway in his rehabilitation process, finally returning to the mound. Cortés, a pitcher with a distinctive skill set, has been battling a shoulder injury, which significantly dented his self-belief and overall pitching performance, resulting in a disappointing 5.16 ERA over the initial 59.1 innings this season.
Cortés’s strikeout numbers slightly dwindled, his ground-ball rate slumped from 33.5% to 25.9%, and his left-on-base rate took a 14% nosedive. Thankfully, Cortés’s struggle had a cause, and he’s now expected to make a full recovery and bolster the team’s performance during the second half of the year.
Though it’s probable he’ll need a few more weeks to regain full fitness, the Yankees are optimistic about welcoming back two valuable lefty arms to the rotation, a significant boost for the team’s prospects.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have successfully kept the momentum going with their superb performances, thanks to one of the finest bullpens in the game. The imminent return of these two vital starters should reinforce the Yankees’ dominance, taking them closer to peak performance in this year’s campaign.