Carlos Rodon’s best outing for Yankees fails to dispel efficacy doubts

Yankees' Carlos Rodon starts vs. the Nationals on August 22, 2023, in New York.
@HoodieDomingo
John Allen
Wednesday August 23, 2023

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On Tuesday night, Carlos Rodon made a remarkable comeback after his stint on the injured list and battered previous three outings. His was the only silver line in the Yankees’ 2-1 defeat by the Nationals. However, Carlos Rodon’s best outing for the Yankees was far away from his peak, which enticed the team to sign him with big expectations.

The left-handed pitcher delivered a six-inning performance in Yankees attire for the first time, conceding just one run and managing his pitch count efficiently. Together with Carlos Rodon’s statistics with the call-ups of Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza — even though both prospects failed to contribute offensively on Tuesday, expectations were high. Though the starter somewhat justified it by holding the Nationals to a single run, he couldn’t save the Yankees from enduring a ninth consecutive loss for a team that has now slipped five games below a .500 record.

Carlos Rodon’s Yankees best still trails his finest

Despite showing his best till now in pinstripes, Carlos Rodon’s performance wasn’t as encouraging as his basic statistics might indicate. The left-handed pitcher only managed to secure one strikeout, causing Washington’s batting order to miss the ball on just three occasions. Carlos Rodon surrendered six hits, with a notable amount resulting in powerful hits, including a third-inning home run by Carter Kieboom. If the Nationals hadn’t made multiple outs on the basepaths, it’s uncertain how many additional runs they might have scored.

After the loss, Yankees manager Aaron Boone mentioned that the opposing team handled left-handed fastballs effectively and displayed a high level of aggressiveness during the game. He noted that despite this, Carlos Rodon managed to use his secondary pitches effectively and varied his pitching strategies to prevent them from focusing solely on hitting left-handed fastballs. Boone also acknowledged that the opposing team swung early in the count and managed to put the ball in play consistently.

Catcher Ben Rortvedt expressed satisfaction with Carlos Rodon’s performance as well. According to him, Carlos Rodon’s pitches showed excellent quality and the starter effectively utilized his off-speed pitches to complement his fastball, creating a balanced approach to keep the opposing hitters uncertain.

Carlos Rodon’s outing on Tuesday did provide the team with an opportunity to win. The 2-1 loss cannot be attributed solely to his performance. Instead, it’s the offensive struggles and their ongoing lackluster showings that have caused the team to fall 10 games behind in the Wild Card race, experiencing their longest losing streak since 1982.

Red flags were clear

Despite his use of a mix of pitches including his slider and curve, Carlos Rodon’s outing highlights a notable issue with his four-seam fastball. During Tuesday’s game, he didn’t manage to induce any swings and misses with this pitch, even though he threw it 39 times. The Nationals’ average exit velocity against Carlos Rodon’s fastball, based on the 14 balls put in play, was measured at 94.8 mph.

Two years ago, Carlos Rodon’s four-seam fastball was regarded as the most effective pitch in the entire league, as per Statcast’s data. In the subsequent year, it ranked fifth-best among all pitches in the league. However, his fastball’s dominance seems to have waned, and he struggled to overpower even the struggling Nationals lineup while playing for the Yankees.

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Twitter-@TalkinYanks

Carlos Rodon was also uneasy with the situation, acknowledging that the current circumstances are not aligned with the team’s aspirations. He emphasized the need to focus on the upcoming games rather than dwelling on the current state. He highlighted the importance of looking forward to the next game, indicating that the outcome of Tuesday’s match was in the past and he should put it behind him.

When the Yankees acquired Carlos Rodon last offseason, it was anticipated that they were adding a strikeout pitcher with impressive skills to their rotation. While it’s fair to consider his performance on Tuesday with some leniency due to his gradual return from a hamstring injury, his overall performance this season has fallen significantly short of expectations. The concerns are amplified by the fact that Carlos Rodon, who is signed for the next five seasons, has not yet demonstrated consistent health and has shown certain red flags.

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