Carlos Rodon fulfills biggest redemption milestone with win over Royals

New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon throws during the game against the Kansas City Royals Monday, June 10, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo.
Joe Najarian
Tuesday June 11, 2024

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Carlos Rodon, who had a disastrous performance at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City during his first season with the Yankees, returned nine months later as a transformed pitcher. In his previous outing on September 29, Carlos Rodon failed to record an out, facing eight Royals in the first inning, allowing six hits, walking two, and giving up eight earned runs, which raised his season ERA to a staggering 6.85.

However, this time around, Carlos Rodon has been healthy, consistent, and pitching like the arm the Yankees expected when they signed him for $162 million in free agency two winters ago. He demonstrated his improved form by shutting down the Royals for seven innings in Monday’s 4-2 series-opening win.

Carlos Rodon mentioned that he had circled this game on the calendar, wanting to show up and give his team the best chance to win after his poor performance last year. He admitted that it was difficult to forget last season’s brutal conclusion and that it was “hard to get that one out of your head.”

“I knew this game was coming,” the Yankees pitcher said following the game. “It was circled on the calendar and I wanted to show up and give my team the best chance to win after coming out of here last year, of what happened and not pitching well. I definitely remember that.”

The pitcher revealed that he used the memory of that game as motivation, which contributed to an extremely productive offseason and helped pave the way for his tremendous start to the current season.

Carlos Rodon overcomes the ghost of 2023 failure

New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodón throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Monday, June 10, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo.
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Carlos Rodon, the Yankees’ resurgent left-hander, showcased his remarkable turnaround from last season’s struggles with a commanding performance in Monday night’s win over the Kansas City Royals. Rodón improved his record to 9-2 with a 2.93 ERA, cementing his role as the team’s number-two starter behind Luis Gil in a rotation that has been without ace Gerrit Cole all year.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone praised Carlos Rodon’s command and versatility on the mound, highlighting the pitcher’s effective use of his fastball, slider, and changeup in various parts of the strike zone. Boone remarked that Carlos Rodon’s ability to mix his pitches and maintain a presence both up and down in the strike zone, as well as on both sides of the plate, has been crucial to his success.

“He’s got a presence all over the strike zone,” the Yankees manager said. “His fastball up, he’s been getting it to where he wants to. The slider has been good. We’ve seen him feature more and more of the changeup. That’s become a real factor for him. So I think just having a presence up in the strike zone, but also down and on both sides of the plate, when you can do that and you have quality stuff, you got a chance to be successful and that’s what we’re seeing.”

New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon walks off the mound after the second inning during the game against the Kansas City Royals Monday, June 10, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo.

In the first four innings, Carlos Rodon was nearly untouchable, allowing just one baserunner via a hit-by-pitch in the second inning, which was swiftly erased by a double-play ball. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth until Nelson Velazquez singled through the left side. His shutout bid was eventually spoiled in the seventh when Freddy Fermin drove in a run with an RBI single.

Despite these minor setbacks, Carlos Rodon escaped further trouble in the seventh, inducing a groundout from MJ Melendez to strand a pair of runners before turning the game over to the bullpen, which successfully preserved the lead.

On a night when the Yankees displayed their ability to win in various ways, Carlos Rodon proved that he is a completely different pitcher compared to the one who struggled last season. Reflecting on his disastrous outing at Kauffman Stadium in September 2023, Carlos Rodon admitted that it was hard to forget that game, stating “it wasn’t just one start, it was the culmination of the whole 2023 season.”

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