Yankees see All-Star-caliber performance from $162 million pitcher

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

With Gerrit Cole still recovering from an elbow injury, the Yankees have depended heavily on other starters to compensate for his absence. This season, the spotlight has been on Carlos Rodon, whom the Yankees signed for $162 million during the 2023 off-season.

Carlos Rodon’s Performance and Adaptation

Rodon, a 31-year-old lefty, has had a respectable start to the 2024 season, boasting a 2.70 ERA across five starts and totaling 26.2 innings pitched. While his expected ERA (xERA) is 3.74, his actual performance has been better, indicating a bit of good fortune.

Rodon’s fastball averages 95.3 mph, and he uses it 57.8% of the time, along with his slider at 17.7%. This season, he’s added a cutter to his arsenal, used 15.1% of the time, which has been effective with a 20.7% whiff rate and a .125 batting average against.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees, carlos rodon
Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

During Monday’s game against the Oakland Athletics, Rodon delivered an outstanding performance, pitching 7.0 scoreless innings and allowing just one hit while striking out four on 92 pitches. He skillfully utilized his full range of pitches to dominate the Athletics.

“I used everything today,’’ Rodon said after the unfortunate loss. “Last year was more of a fastball, slider mix and this year, I use different pitches to get ahead. I wouldn’t say I reinvented myself. I always threw four pitches and I added a cutter for five.”

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that although Rodon didn’t appear sharp early on, he settled in and arguably had his best start of the season.

“He pitched,’’ Aaron Boone said of his lefty starter. “I didn’t think, early on, he had good life like his last start. He made a lot of really good pitches and there was a little bit of everything.”

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

Yankees’ Offensive Struggles and Upcoming Challenges

Despite Rodon’s impressive outing, the Yankees’ offense struggled, marking their fourth game without scoring this season. They managed only three hits and struck out 11 times against J.P. Sears, a former Yankee.

The team faces a critical game against Oakland at 7:05 PM on Tuesday evening, with Marcus Stroman pitching for the Yankees against Paul Blackburn for Oakland.

Blackburn boasts a 1.08 ERA over 25 innings this season, including 18 strikeouts. Given Blackburn’s form and the Yankees’ recent offensive woes, their left-handed hitters will need to perform better against the right-handed pitcher.

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