Yankees’ Carlos Rodon overrides wife’s concerns, exacts revenge on White Sox

Yankees' Carlos Roodon is on the mound against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on May 19, 2024.
Inna Zeyger
Monday May 20, 2024

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Any concerns over Carlos Rodon’s health were quickly put to rest as the Yankees ace turned in a stellar outing against his former team on Sunday. Despite his wife Ashley expressing some pregame anxiety about his condition on social media, the left-hander looked every bit his dominant self on the Yankee Stadium mound.

Carlos Rodon locked in for six solid innings, allowing just two runs while racking up six punchouts. His gritty performance set the tone as the Yankees rolled to a 7-2 victory over the White Sox before an appreciative Bronx crowd of 41,041.

Carlos Rodon saved his most meaningful gesture for last. As he walked off the mound after authoring another stellar Yankees win, he paused to blow a kiss toward his wife Ashley sitting close by. Any lingering trepidation she held could be put to bed – her husband was perfectly healthy and had just defeated his doubters once again.

Carlos Rodon shines in payback performance

The pitcher clearly had something to prove against the team that let him walk in free agency last winter. With the game in hand in the sixth, Carlos Rodon reached back for a little extra heat, blowing away Korey Lee with three straight 98 mph heaters to strand the bases loaded. The fired-up ace soaked in a thunderous ovation after the big strikeout – a stark contrast to the jeers he heard in this same ballpark just a year ago.

“Going up against your former club is a big deal,” he said. “I definitely wanted to beat them.”

For Carlos Rodon, squaring off against the White Sox, the team that drafted him third overall in 2013 and played a pivotal role in his development into a star from 2015-21, held special significance. Despite striking out numerous familiar faces, the Yankees pitcher approached the game as a transformed pitcher.

Against the White Sox, Carlos Rodon limited the damage to just two runs on four hits and two walks over six innings, while striking out six batters. The 23 swing-and-misses he generated marked his highest total since July 9, 2022, when he tossed a complete-game, three-hit masterpiece for the Giants against the Padres, relying heavily on his fastball and slider.

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Carlos Rodon’s pitch selection against the White Sox on Sunday featured his signature fastball and slider, but it was his developing changeup that proved to be his most potent weapon. Chicago’s hitters swung at the changeup nine times, whiffing on seven occasions.

Carlos Rodon emphasized the importance of incorporating a third pitch, particularly against a lineup dominated by right-handed batters. The effectiveness of his changeup has been a key factor in his improved performance, evidenced by his ERA dropping to 3.27.

Complementing his repertoire, Carlos Rodon also mixed in a curveball and cutter, transforming him from a two-pitch hurler to a five-pitch pitcher. This expanded arsenal provides him with a wealth of options to navigate through challenging situations.

Carlos Rodon encountered trouble twice during Sunday’s outing. In the second inning, he surrendered a pair of runs on a Corey Julks homer and a Zach Remillard RBI triple. However, Remillard was left stranded as the Yankees star induced a pop-up from Danny Mendick, and Jose Trevino’s heads-up pickoff play at third base helped Carlos Rodon escape further damage.

Two innings later, Carlos Rodon showcased his resilience, extinguishing a White Sox threat without relying on his catcher’s assistance. With two runners on and no outs, he struck out Julks, Lee, and Remillard in succession, successfully navigating the precarious situation unscathed.

A new Carlos Rodon on the haunt

In his second season donning the iconic Yankees pinstripes, a physically transformed Carlos Rodon showcases a new approach on the mound. Armed with a more diverse pitch arsenal, he is no longer solely reliant on his once-dominant fastball and slider combination.

Following a nightmarish debut season in the Bronx, Carlos Rodon’s mental state has also undergone a significant shift. After delivering his third consecutive quality start in the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the White Sox on Sunday, he reflected on his newfound comfort level. Sitting in the dugout, the pitcher surveyed his surroundings, remarking that the stadium no longer felt overwhelming, but instead, like home.

“I sit down in the dugout now and I look around, and I feel pretty comfortable sitting in this stadium,” the lefty said. “I thought about that the first month here in April … sitting down and looking around. This doesn’t feel overwhelming anymore. This feels like home.”

Yankees' Carlos Roodon pitches against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on May 19, 2024.
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The contrast between Carlos Rodon’s injury-plagued and underwhelming 2023 campaign and his current form is stark. A healthier and more at ease, he is finding success early in the season, largely due to his expanded pitch repertoire.

Two years ago, Carlos Rodon’s dominance on the mound earned him a lucrative $162 million contract with the Yankees. Now, two years later, he is once again asserting his dominance, but in a distinctly different manner.

Carlos Rodon’s evolution as a pitcher, both in terms of his physical appearance and his approach on the mound, has been a captivating storyline in the early stages of the season. As he continues to harness his expanded arsenal and find comfort in his surroundings, the Yankees are poised to benefit from the resurgence of their prized pitching acquisition.

Yankees skipper Aaron Boone praised Carlos Rodon’s ability to find extra gear with his fastball when faced with adversity during the game.

Embracing his newfound identity on the mound, Carlos Rodon improved his record to 3-0 with a stellar 2.13 ERA over four starts at Yankee Stadium, a venue that has quickly become his home turf.

Reflecting on his evolution, Carlos Rodon acknowledged the profound impact of his transformation, emphasizing the substantial difference it has made in his performance and mindset as he continues to thrive in his new surroundings.

“When he got into trouble,” the Yankees manager said, “he had an extra gear with the heater.”

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