Last Updated on October 23, 2023 at 1:58 am by Esteban Quiñones
Carlos Rodon‘s arrival in the Bronx was met with high expectations and excitement from Yankees fans. The left-hander, who had just signed a lucrative six-year, $162 million contract with the team, was seen as a key addition to bolster their pitching staff. However, Rodon’s first season with the Yankees didn’t go as planned, leaving fans and the organization with concerns about his future performance. For this reason, the Yankees’ coach Matt Blake expressed uncertainty, stating that it was difficult to provide a definite assessment. This uncertainty stemmed from the fact that it was the Yankees’ first year with the player, and they lacked prior experience regarding his usual preseason arrival.
“So I think it is something we say, ‘All right, that’s gotta be a focus for us of making sure we’re physically prepared to go this spring training to hit the ground running so we don’t have any hiccups,’ ” Blake said. “That would be the main priority this offseason. Then obviously we’ll have some conversations along the way — where he’s at, where he’s training and just be following up with him, just like any other guy.”
Carlos Rodon’s critical offseason
Injuries plagued Rodon’s season from the start, casting a shadow of doubt on his ability to deliver as promised. He sustained a forearm muscle strain following a spring training start, causing a significant delay in his debut for the Yankees, which didn’t happen until July 7. It was an inauspicious start for a pitcher with a history of injuries, who had seemingly turned a corner with his health in the previous two years.
His rehab was further complicated by back problems, prompting a brief return to the injured list in August due to a hamstring strain. The inconsistency in his physical condition was a source of uncertainty for the Yankees, as they hadn’t had prior experience with how Rodon typically entered the season. Pitching coach Matt Blake commented that it was challenging to determine his physical preparedness, considering it was the first year the Yankees had him on their roster.
Blake emphasized that one of the main priorities for the offseason was ensuring that Rodon was in peak physical condition to avoid any setbacks during spring training. The goal was to hit the ground running and eliminate any hiccups that might arise from inadequate preparation. It was crucial for Rodon to be at his best physically when the next season started.
Despite the rocky start, there were glimpses of hope in the latter part of the season. Rodon’s performances against the Red Sox and Pirates in back-to-back September starts were more in line with what the Yankees had expected. In those outings, he pitched a total of 11 ²/₃ innings, surrendered only four runs, and struck out an impressive 19 batters. Notably, he showcased an uptick in his fastball velocity, averaging 96.1 and 96.4 mph in those games. It was a positive sign, but his performance seemed to wane in his final two starts, including a finale with a lower fastball speed of 93.6 mph.
Both Rodon and the Yankees’ coaching staff maintained that he was in good health during this period, dispelling concerns about injury. Rodon’s shift towards incorporating more curveballs and changeups into his pitching repertoire was seen as a positive development. This adjustment complemented his usual heavy reliance on fastballs and sliders and appeared to enhance the effectiveness of his fastball. Finding consistency in his mechanics and refining his delivery were crucial aspects in helping Rodon return to the level of performance expected of him.
The Yankees are now heading into a critical offseason, and it’s equally pivotal for Carlos Rodon. With a full year of experience together, the team and the pitcher hope to establish a more effective communication rhythm during the offseason. This involves staying on top of his physical conditioning, ensuring he’s in the best shape, and addressing any issues that may have plagued his debut season with the Yankees.
As the 2023 season approaches, the spotlight is on Carlos Rodon. The Yankees’ investment in him was substantial, and fans are eager to see if he can fulfill the promise that led to his signing. This offseason represents a chance for Rodon to reset, regroup, and work towards a successful campaign that aligns with the team’s expectations.
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