Yankees preparing to get star free agent acquisition back next week

carlos rodon, yankees
Feb 22, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) during photo day at George M. Steinbrenner Field Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since March when the initial report of Carlos Rodón’s forearm strain came out, the Yankees believed this day would have come in April or May. Persistent back issues, setbacks, and shutdowns further delayed the return of the Yankees’ $162 million investment, but after finishing his third and final rehab start, all reports about his health and preparedness suggest his next start will happen in the Bronx.

After tossing 10.2 IP of one-run baseball across three starts, Carlos Rodón struck out 17 batters and looked sharp, walking just three batters as well. Bryan Hoch reports that reports looked good following that final start according to Aaron Boone, and this would be a massive boost for a Yankee rotation that’s mustered the ninth-lowest fWAR (4.1) and 15th-best ERA (4.31) through the first half of the season.

Yankees Get Much-Needed Boost to Rotation

The Yankees have struggled with health and consistency in the rotation, as outside of Gerrit Cole, they haven’t had a single starter give them consistently great outings from April to July. Clarke Schmidt’s been a lot better as of late, and Domingo German’s two blow-up starts on the season have inflated his ERA despite being a serviceable backend starter for New York. Luis Severino has been brutal, struggling to generate swings and misses while giving up a lot of long balls, due to diminishing movement on his fastball and a lack of confidence and command in his slider.

Nestor Cortes missed all of June with a shoulder injury and remains on the IL still, although he’s seen his barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and strikeout rate worsen across the board this year. It’s clear the Yankees need help in their rotation, and Rodón looks to bolster that part of this squad. Their bullpen’s excellence has kept them afloat, as they have the fourth-best ERA as a team because their bullpen is far and away the best at preventing runs. They’re the only team in the sport with a bullpen ERA below three, but they’ll burn their bullpen out if their starters don’t begin to perform.

luis severino, yankees
Oct 3, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) leaves the game following the seventh inning after giving up no hits to the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. The Yankees won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t what the Yankees invested $88 million into (third-most in baseball) alongside prospects and roster spots, but Rodón is looking to help steady the ship. He’ll be on a pitch limit in his first few outings, and his command will be spotty at times, but if he’s anything close to the pitcher he’s been in the previous two seasons, the Yankees will get one of the best arms in baseball.

Despite not throwing a single pitch in 2023, Rodón still remains sixth in fWAR among all pitchers (11.1) and between 2021 and 2022, he held the fourth-best ERA (2.67) and best strikeout rate (33.9%) with second-place being his teammate and rotation ace Gerrit Cole. The Yankees look to get a big lift to their rotation, and Rodón is one of baseball’s premier arms.

They currently don’t have a fifth starter in the traditional sense, going to bullpen games and spot starts from Jhony Brito and Randy Vásquez, who for rookies have given the Yankees consistent chances to win. It’ll help keep the bullpen from having to get 12 or more outs a game on days Cole doesn’t pitch, and finally gives the fans a chance to see the star pitcher that the Yankees rolled the red carpet for over the winter.