Yankees praying they didn’t make a $162 million dollar mistake

mlb: arizona diamondbacks at new york yankees, carlos rodon
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Yankees head into the off-season, one of their primary concerns is whether starting pitcher Carlos Rodon can recapture his previous form. Rodon, who signed a six-year, $162 million deal, experienced the worst season of his career, raising questions about his future contributions to the team.

Rodon’s recent season was marred by injuries and underperformance. The 30-year-old pitcher recorded a 6.85 ERA and a 5.79 FIP across 64.1 innings, a significant departure from his performance in previous seasons. His struggles were compounded by multiple injuries, including chronic back issues, a left forearm strain, and a hamstring injury, leading to missed playing time.

Previous Success and Expectations

Before this downturn, Rodon had two strong seasons, suggesting he had overcome his injury-prone reputation. In 2021, he pitched 132.2 innings, followed by a career-high 178 innings in 2022. The Yankees, having invested heavily in Rodon, expect a return on their investment and hope for his significant contribution to the team’s pitching lineup.

In addition to focusing on Rodon’s recovery, the Yankees are expected to aggressively pursue Yoshinobu Yamamoto in free agency. Yamamoto, potentially commanding a $200 million deal, has yet to pitch in the MLB but is viewed as a talent capable of becoming an ace.

Rodon’s Role in the Yankees’ Future

Rodon is anticipated to play a vital role in the Yankees’ pitching strategy. Despite his recent setbacks, his successful 2022 season serves as a benchmark for his potential. In that year, he achieved a 2.88 ERA and a 2.25 FIP, making him one of the top left-handed pitchers in the game before his injury-induced decline.

mlb: new york yankees at tampa bay rays, carlos rodon
Aug 27, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) reacts after pitching against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees’ 2023 season was significantly impacted by injuries, with Rodon being a notable example. The team is hopeful that he can overcome his recent health issues and regain his consistency and effectiveness on the mound.

Advanced analytics reveal that Rodon’s four-seam fastball was particularly ineffective last season, leading to poor results. The pitch’s performance was a sharp contrast to the previous year, despite similar velocity and break. Rodon’s main challenges were confidence and accuracy, likely affected by his early-season injuries.

The Path Forward for Rodon

For Rodon to bounce back, maintaining his health will be crucial. The Yankees’ success with their high-profile veterans, including Rodon, largely depends on their ability to stay injury-free and perform consistently. As the team looks ahead, Rodon’s recovery and return to form will be key elements in their strategy.

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