Yankees’ starting rotation is depending on their $162 million pitcher

mlb: spring training-toronto blue jays at new york yankees, carlos rodon
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees‘ starting rotation in 2024 heavily relies on Carlos Rodon bouncing back from what was arguably his worst season as a professional last year.

Rodon, now 31, tossed just 64.1 innings after throwing 178 during the 2022 season with the San Francisco Giants. He collected a 6.85 ERA, 5.79 FIP, 8.95 strikeouts per nine, a 60.5% left-on-base rate, and a career-low 27.1% ground ball rate. His walk numbers spiked, and he gave up the most home runs per nine in his career at 2.10. Several injuries derailed his campaign and throwing program, forcing him to rush through the process and put him behind the curve.

Rodon’s Spring Training Performance and Adjustments

Fortunately, Rodon has slimmed down and is in great shape following his first spring training performance on Sunday afternoon. Rodon tossed 2 2/3 innings, striking out five batters and throwing 48 pitches. The lefty starter had some good metrics to build off of, even incorporating a new cutter.

While he only threw the cutter three times, it generated 2484 RPMs, which is phenomenal, and sat only behind his slider in spin rate. While it only averaged 78.2 mph, it is important to note that he is just starting to incorporate the pitch, and getting a feel for it is the priority.

Rodon wasn’t dialing up his full velocity, touching 95 mph with his fastball and averaging 93.6 across 32 pitches. While his fastball had a bit of inconsistency regarding location, with several high and away, the Yankees saw plenty of good moments that showcased Rodon’s vintage resiliency and upside.

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Yankees Monitoring Health and Performance

“It’s good to see there’s some swing and miss still in my arsenal, and just kind of build off that,” he said.

Even manager Aaron Boone was impressed by some of the stuff Rodon showed, a good stepping stone as he continues to ramp up ahead of the regular season.

“Carlos was good,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Stuff-wise was pretty good. Just another important step for him to go out there and have some success and get to that three ups, near 50 pitches. It’s all progress.”

The most important variable is maintaining Rodon’s health over the next few weeks, but getting through his first start without any issues is a great sign.

In fact, the Yankees have been mostly healthy over the first three spring training games, which is an accomplishment in itself. While Carlos did give up a solo homer to Alejandro Kirk right before being pulled in the third inning, he worked his way out of trouble on multiple occasions and fought back after losing command of the strike zone.

The Yankees have another game on Monday afternoon at 1:05 PM against the Minnesota Twins, featuring several of their primary starters. Juan Soto will start once again in the two-hole and DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton will get their first action of spring training.

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