Thinner Carlos Rodon makes cleaner delivery but Yankees careful to give a verdict

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The spring opener of Carlos Rodon threw up multiple facets, revealing a complexity that warrants careful consideration. Given its early stage, it’s important not to overreact to the outcomes. However, the southpaw’s cleaner performance was essential for the Yankees to dispel uncertainty over their big investment.

Carlos Rodon, who struggled in the 2023 season, took the mound for 2.2 innings, allowing only one run. However, his outing was not without its struggles. In the second inning, he faced control issues, issuing two walks and hitting a batter, leading to a bases-loaded situation. Although he managed to escape the jam, he ultimately surrendered a home run to Alejandro Kirk on his final pitch of the day, a 48th-pitch fastball that sailed over the left-field wall.

Yankees’ cautious optimism over Carlos Rodon

While the New York Yankees secured a convincing 12-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, starting pitcher Carlos Rodon‘s performance left some room for concern among fans and analysts.

Carlos Rodon is pitching at the Tankees' sping training facility in Tampa on February 16, 2023.
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Carlos Rodon’s performance sparked questions about his current form, particularly in light of his previous season’s struggles. Following the game, Yankees legend Ron Guidry, present in the stands, reportedly engaged in a discussion with the Yankees’ coaching staff, suggesting the potential for a deeper evaluation of Rodon’s situation.

When Bob Klapisch of NJ Advance Media inquired of Gator what his impressions were of Carlos Rodon’s performance. He remarked that his performance was perhaps an improvement compared to last year.

While Carlos Rodon’s recent spring training outing raised questions about his form, the New York Yankees organization maintains a positive outlook on the left-handed pitcher. The Yankees’ internal evaluation of the pitcher’s performance focused on his development and potential, rather than assigning blame. The organization has invested significantly in Carlos Rodon, and there’s a collective belief that he can regain the form he displayed with the San Francisco Giants in 2022.

It’s important to acknowledge the positive aspects of Carlos Rodon’s outing. He arrived at camp noticeably slimmer, showcasing an improved physical state. Additionally, his pitching mechanics appeared more refined and agile.

In the first inning, Carlos Rodon displayed flashes of his capabilities, efficiently retiring batters with just 11 pitches, including nine strikes and two strikeouts. As he himself acknowledged, “It’s reassuring to see that my ability to induce swings and misses is still intact,” acknowledging the positive aspects of his performance.

Despite the concerns raised by the second inning, the Yankees remain confident in Carlos Rodon’s potential. They will continue to monitor his development closely throughout spring training, aiming to see him return to his former form and contribute to the team’s success in the upcoming season.

Despite the New York Yankees’ hopes of solidifying their starting rotation, free agency negotiations have not yielded the desired outcome. This raises questions about the team’s pitching depth heading into the regular season.

Rodon’s bad 2023 catalyst for Yankees rebuilding

Carlos Rodon’s underwhelming performance in 2023 has cast a shadow on the team’s pursuit of another top starter. While Rodon’s agent, Scott Boras, negotiated a significant $162 million contract with the Yankees last year, his performance fell short of expectations. This has reportedly impacted the Yankees’ efforts to acquire Blake Snell, with negotiations stalled for weeks.

The Yankees face several challenges in improving their rotation. Adding Snell would require navigating a hefty price tag, potentially ranging from $55 million to $63 million due to luxury tax implications. Additionally, acquiring Dylan Cease from the Chicago White Sox would require trading away top prospect Spencer Jones, a proposition deemed undesirable by the Yankees.

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While no immediate solution appears on the horizon, the Yankees are not entirely without options. Marcus Stroman, who was signed as a free agent after last season, adds depth to the rotation behind the established starting pitchers.

With spring training progressing and negotiations stalled, the Yankees are left with a difficult decision. They must decide whether to enter the season with their current rotation, accept the limitations it may present, or pursue alternative options within their financial and prospect constraints.

Carlos Rodon was initially envisioned as Gerrit Cole‘s reliable partner in the playoffs. While this remains technically true, his recent performance has raised concerns. Although he showcases a slimmer physique and improved fitness, his transformation seems incomplete.

The next crucial step for Carlos Rodon is regaining his fastball velocity. During his start against the Blue Jays, his average fastball clocked in at 93.6 mph, a significant drop from his 2023 average of 95.9 mph. Rodon attempted to downplay these concerns, stating to reporters, “I wasn’t raring back or anything” as it was his first outing.

While Carlos Rodon’s explanation is reasonable, he additionally needs a reliable strikeout pitch. In 2023, hitters displayed aggressive tactics, forcing him to deal with a career-high 53.2% swing rate on his pitches. Furthermore, his contact rate has increased by 10% over the last two years.

The Yankees face a critical decision regarding their Game 2 playoff starter. Carlos Rodon remains in the mix, but his ability to regain his peak form and develop a reliable outpitch will be crucial in determining their confidence in him for such a high-stakes situation. Spring training performances and continued evaluation will likely play a significant role in the team’s ultimate decision.

Rodon works on pitches While Yankees consider rotation options

Blake Snell has been linked to a move to the Yankees
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The Yankees are working with Carlos Rodon to improve his pitching repertoire, encouraging him to incorporate more curveballs and change-ups. While he expresses a lack of confidence in these additional pitches, he is currently experimenting with a cutter during spring training.

Carlos Rodon’s recent mediocre performance against the Blue Jays has raised concerns among Yankees fans about the overall effectiveness of the starting rotation. This has led to increased calls for the acquisition of free-agent pitcher Blake Snell.

However, both Carlos Rodon and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner have publicly expressed confidence in the current rotation. When asked about the calls for Snell, Rodon suggested Clarke Schmidt as a possible internal solution and stated, “I do” when questioned about his satisfaction with the rotation. Steinbrenner has also echoed this sentiment, despite ongoing rumors.

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